The Most and Least Popular Governors in America

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Andy Beshear, the Democratic candidate for Governor of Kentucky, declared victory over Republican Gov. Matt Bevin after the polls closed on November 5th. Even though Kentucky went to President Donald Trump by 30 percentage points in 2016, it seems party loyalty was not enough to overcome Bevin’s unpopularity. With a dismal 34% approval rating, Bevin is the least popular governor in the country.

As Kentucky’s 2019 gubernatorial election demonstrates, popularity is important for governors — both for political clout and, for those who are not up against term limits, job security.

24/7 Wall St. reviewed public opinion data from research company Morning Consult to rank America’s 50 state governors by popularity. Governor approval ratings are based on survey data collected during the third quarter of 2019 and range from 34% to 73%.

As there are many unique political opinions among voters, elected officials are rarely able to please everyone. There are policy areas that are less subjective, however — perhaps most notably, the economy. 

Poor economic performance tends to hurt political popularity of elected officials, while strong economic performance appears to have the opposite effect. In eight of the 10 states with the least popular governors, the annual unemployment rate is higher than the 3.9% national average. Similarly, unemployment is line with or lower than the national rate in nine of the 10 states with the most popular governors. Here is a list of states where it is hardest to find full-time work. 

There is no set salary for governors, and compensation for the job varies by state — from as little as $70,000 to more than $200,000. While there is no hard and fast rule, generally, states with larger populations have higher governor salaries. Here is a full list of the highest and lowest paid governors in the United States.

Click here to see the most and least popular governors in America
Click here to read our methodology