Special Report

America's Most and Least Popular Governors

U.S. governors are the most powerful elected officials in state government. Occupying their state’s most high-profile position and representing constituencies that can include a broad range of public interests and political values, they are subject to regular scrutiny.

As is true for every politician voted into office across all levels of government, approval ratings are very important to governors — both for political clout and, for those who are up for re-election, job security.

24/7 Wall St. reviewed public opinion data from research company Morning Consult to rank America’s governors by popularity. Governor approval ratings are based on survey data collected during the fourth quarter of 2019 and range from 32% to 69%. Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear and Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves were not included on this list, because they assumed office after the survey was conducted.

Click here to see America’s most popular governors
Click here to read our methodology

Many factors shape public opinion, and no single variable seems to explain a high or low approval rating.

Economic conditions, such as the availability of gainful employment, are often among the most serious concerns for voters. While unemployment rates do not track with governor popularity in all 50 states, seven of the 10 states with the most popular governors have unemployment rates as low or lower than the 3.5% national December jobless rate. Here is a list of states where it is hardest to find full-time work.

Spending priorities are influenced by many state officials and institutions. And while governors often have considerable control over budget considerations, measures of fiscal management do not consistently help explain public approval.

One frequently used indicator of a state’s fiscal management is its rainy day fund — reserve savings that can be drawn from in the event of an economic downturn. The status of the rainy day fund is just one of many measures that can help gauge how well a state is run. Here is a list of the best and worst run states in America.

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