Monday, February 20, 2006

Taft's Approval Dips Down to 14%

I was In the new batch of polls for January 2006 from SurveyUSA, Gov. Bob Taft's (R-OH) approval rating for the month of January stood at an incredible 14%. The second most unpopular governor, according to this SurveyUSA poll, is Gov. Frank Murkowski (R-AK), which is strange because as a US Senator he was fairly popular with Alaskan voters. I guess appointing his daughter to his US Senate seat didn't help matters but they did elect her back to Washington in 2004.
Back to Ohio and Taft, Gov. Bob Taft has previously set a record for the lowest approval rating of any Ohio Governor at 17% (the previous record was held by Dick Celeste in the mid-1980s, in the neighborhood of 30%), but this new number beats Taft's own previous record. His numbers for last month, according to SurveyUSA, were 14% approve, 82% disapprove and apparently 4% unsure of any opinion of the Governor. With all the gubernatorial candidates for '06 continually distancing themselves from Gov. Taft (both the GOP and Democrats) it's no wonder that Taft truly exemplifies a lame duck executive. Taft will also be a haunting ghost for either Petro or Blackwell come November. With Taft still in the Governor's Mansion in Bexley, he is a constant reminder of how dissatisified Ohio voters may be with the status quo and how they may want a change in political leadership. It would have been nice for the White House to step in and appoint Taft to some far off US Ambassadorship so he could have become an afterthought in Ohio. At this point, appointed-Lt. Gov. Bruce Johnson (R-Columbus) would serve as a more effective Governor of this state anyway. Had the rumors of about a year ago worked out, Gov. Taft would have gotten an Ambassadorship from the Bush Administration but only before Taft would fill the vacant Lt. Gov. spot (due to Lt. Gov. Jeanette Bradley being appointed State Treasurer after Deters' resignation to become Hamilton County Prosecutor) with then-US Rep. Rob Portman. Portman would almost instantly be elevated to Ohio Governor after Taft would resign to become an Ambassador. Thus, Portman could walk into 2006 as an incumbent and possibly scare off Blackwell, Petro, and Montgomery in the Republican primary for Governor. But this well-orchestrated plan (pure speculation but I think the whole idea has Ohio GOP Chairman Bob Bennett's fingerprints all over it and much kudos to him for thinking of it) never panned out. Portman was ultimately appointed US Trade Representative and Taft was left to his own devices in Columbus. What a squandered opportunity. Now, as a party, we face an energized Democratic gubernatorial candidate who is currently leading in the polls. What could have been...

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