Special Report

The Approval Rating For Every Democratic Governor in America

gageskidmore / Flickr

Every year from 1992 to 2021, Americans have been more likely, or as likely, to support the Democratic Party than the Republican Party, according to Gallup polls. But now, for the first time in three decades, popular sentiment has flipped. The Associated Press reported that an estimated 1 million voters switched to the GOP in 2021, and according to a May 2023 Gallup survey, just 43% American adults now identify as or lean Democratic, compared to 46% who identify as or lean Republican. 

The shift away from the Democratic Party as a whole is likely, at least in part, a reflection of waning confidence in the Biden Administration. A recent Gallup poll puts President Joe Biden’s job approval rating at just 39%, well below his all-time high of 57% in early 2021. And with both the presidency and control of Congress at stake in the 2024 election, this trend should be sounding alarm bells in the Democratic Party. (Here is a look at Biden’s approval rating in every state.)

In stark contrast to public opinion of the president, however, Democrats in executive positions at the state level remain relatively popular. Currently, 24 of the 50 state governors are Democrats, and among them approval ratings range from 42% up to 63%. 

Using survey data from Morning Consult, a public opinion research company, 24/7 Wall St. identified America’s most and least popular Democratic governors. We ranked all 24 Democratic state governors by their 2023 approval rating. Ties were broken by disapproval ratings, and in cases where governors shared the same approval and disapproval rating, the governor with the largest survey sample size ranked higher.

Notably, four of the 24 Democratic governors on this list hold office in states that tend to vote Republican in national elections. In fact, two of the five most popular Democratic governors – Andy Beshear of Kentucky and Laura Kell of Kansas – lead states that Donald Trump handily won in the 2020 presidential election. (Here is a look at the most, and least, effective presidents in American history.)

There are several reasons it is not uncommon for minority parties to win state gubernatorial elections. For one, governor races typically focus on local issues such as education, crime, or infrastructure, and candidates have more room to distance themselves from national party leaders, like Biden. Minority party gubernatorial candidates can also adopt more moderate positions and appeal to a larger cross section of voters. 

Click here to see the approval rating for every democratic governor in America.

Click here to see our detailed methodology.

24. Oregon Gov. Tina Kotek
> Popularity: 42% approve; 39% disapprove
> Tenure: Took office in 2023, currently serving first term
> 2020 presidential election results: 56.5% Democratic (13th highest); 40.4% Republican (11th lowest)
> Governor’s annual salary: $98,600 (4th lowest of 50 states)
> Unemployment rate, 2022: 4.2% (higher than nat’l avg.)
> Population: 4,207,177 (24th smallest of 50 states)

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23. Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs
> Popularity: 47% approve; 36% disapprove
> Tenure: Took office in 2023, currently serving first term
> 2020 presidential election results: 49.4% Democratic (24th highest); 49.1% Republican (24th lowest)
> Governor’s annual salary: $95,000 (3rd lowest of 50 states)
> Unemployment rate, 2022: 3.8% (higher than nat’l avg.)
> Population: 7,079,203 (14th largest of 50 states)

Source: Public Domain / White House / Wikimedia Commons

22. Rhode Island Gov. Dan McKee
> Popularity: 50% approve; 37% disapprove
> Tenure: Took office in 2021, currently serving second term
> 2020 presidential election results: 59.4% Democratic (7th highest); 38.6% Republican (7th lowest)
> Governor’s annual salary: $145,755 (24th lowest of 50 states)
> Unemployment rate, 2022: 3.2% (lower than nat’l avg.)
> Population: 1,091,949 (8th smallest of 50 states)

Source: Photo by Alex Wong / Getty Images

21. New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham
> Popularity: 51% approve; 43% disapprove
> Tenure: Took office in 2019, currently serving second term
> 2020 presidential election results: 54.3% Democratic (15th highest); 43.5% Republican (15th lowest)
> Governor’s annual salary: $110,000 (8th lowest of 50 states)
> Unemployment rate, 2022: 4.0% (higher than nat’l avg.)
> Population: 2,109,366 (15th smallest of 50 states)

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Source: David Ryder / Getty Images News via Getty Images

20. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee
> Popularity: 51% approve; 43% disapprove
> Tenure: Took office in 2013, currently serving third term
> 2020 presidential election results: 58.0% Democratic (10th highest); 38.8% Republican (8th lowest)
> Governor’s annual salary: $187,353 (6th highest of 50 states)
> Unemployment rate, 2022: 4.2% (higher than nat’l avg.)
> Population: 7,617,364 (13th largest of 50 states)

Source: Mark Wallheiser / Getty Images News via Getty Images

19. Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards
> Popularity: 51% approve; 41% disapprove
> Tenure: Took office in 2016, currently serving second term
> 2020 presidential election results: 39.9% Democratic (13th lowest); 58.5% Republican (11th highest)
> Governor’s annual salary: $130,000 (16th lowest of 50 states)
> Unemployment rate, 2022: 3.7% (higher than nat’l avg.)
> Population: 4,657,305 (25th largest of 50 states)

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Source: Michael M. Santiago / Getty Images News via Getty Images

18. New York Gov. Kathy Hochul
> Popularity: 51% approve; 41% disapprove
> Tenure: Took office in 2021, currently serving second term
> 2020 presidential election results: 60.9% Democratic (6th highest); 37.7% Republican (6th lowest)
> Governor’s annual salary: $250,000 (the highest of 50 states)
> Unemployment rate, 2022: 4.3% (higher than nat’l avg.)
> Population: 20,114,745 (4th largest of 50 states)

Source: Pool / Getty Images News via Getty Images

17. Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers
> Popularity: 52% approve; 43% disapprove
> Tenure: Took office in 2019, currently serving second term
> 2020 presidential election results: 49.4% Democratic (24th highest); 48.8% Republican (23rd lowest)
> Governor’s annual salary: $152,756 (22nd highest of 50 states)
> Unemployment rate, 2022: 2.9% (lower than nat’l avg.)
> Population: 5,871,661 (20th largest of 50 states)

Source: Scott Olson / Getty Images News via Getty Images

16. Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker
> Popularity: 52% approve; 43% disapprove
> Tenure: Took office in 2019, currently serving second term
> 2020 presidential election results: 57.5% Democratic (11th highest); 40.6% Republican (12th lowest)
> Governor’s annual salary: $184,758 (8th highest of 50 states)
> Unemployment rate, 2022: 4.6% (higher than nat’l avg.)
> Population: 12,821,813 (6th largest of 50 states)

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15. North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper III
> Popularity: 52% approve; 37% disapprove
> Tenure: Took office in 2017, currently serving second term
> 2020 presidential election results: 48.6% Democratic (25th lowest); 49.9% Republican (25th highest)
> Governor’s annual salary: $165,750 (15th highest of 50 states)
> Unemployment rate, 2022: 3.7% (higher than nat’l avg.)
> Population: 10,367,022 (9th largest of 50 states)

Source: njnationalguard / Flickr

14. New Jersey Gov. Philip Murphy
> Popularity: 53% approve; 39% disapprove
> Tenure: Took office in 2018, currently serving second term
> 2020 presidential election results: 57.3% Democratic (12th highest); 41.4% Republican (13th lowest)
> Governor’s annual salary: $175,000 (10th highest of 50 states)
> Unemployment rate, 2022: 3.7% (higher than nat’l avg.)
> Population: 9,234,024 (11th largest of 50 states)

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13. Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro
> Popularity: 53% approve; 26% disapprove
> Tenure: Took office in 2023, currently serving first term
> 2020 presidential election results: 50.0% Democratic (22nd highest); 48.8% Republican (23rd lowest)
> Governor’s annual salary: $213,026 (3rd highest of 50 states)
> Unemployment rate, 2022: 4.4% (higher than nat’l avg.)
> Population: 12,970,650 (5th largest of 50 states)

Source: Scott Olson / Getty Images News via Getty Images

12. Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz
> Popularity: 54% approve; 41% disapprove
> Tenure: Took office in 2019, currently serving second term
> 2020 presidential election results: 52.4% Democratic (19th highest); 45.3% Republican (18th lowest)
> Governor’s annual salary: $127,629 (14th lowest of 50 states)
> Unemployment rate, 2022: 2.7% (lower than nat’l avg.)
> Population: 5,670,472 (22nd largest of 50 states)

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

11. Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey
> Popularity: 55% approve; 21% disapprove
> Tenure: Took office in 2023, currently serving first term
> 2020 presidential election results: 65.6% Democratic (2nd highest); 32.1% Republican (2nd lowest)
> Governor’s annual salary: $185,000 (7th highest of 50 states)
> Unemployment rate, 2022: 3.8% (higher than nat’l avg.)
> Population: 6,991,852 (15th largest of 50 states)

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10. Maryland Gov. Wes Moore
> Popularity: 55% approve; 16% disapprove
> Tenure: Took office in 2023, currently serving first term
> 2020 presidential election results: 65.4% Democratic (3rd highest); 32.2% Republican (3rd lowest)
> Governor’s annual salary: $180,000 (9th highest of 50 states)
> Unemployment rate, 2022: 3.2% (lower than nat’l avg.)
> Population: 6,148,545 (18th largest of 50 states)

Source: Bill Pugliano / Getty Images News via Getty Images

9. Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer
> Popularity: 56% approve; 40% disapprove
> Tenure: Took office in 2019, currently serving second term
> 2020 presidential election results: 50.6% Democratic (20th highest); 47.8% Republican (21st lowest)
> Governor’s annual salary: $159,300 (19th highest of 50 states)
> Unemployment rate, 2022: 4.2% (higher than nat’l avg.)
> Population: 10,062,512 (10th largest of 50 states)

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8. California Gov. Gavin Newsom
> Popularity: 56% approve; 38% disapprove
> Tenure: Took office in 2019, currently serving second term
> 2020 presidential election results: 63.5% Democratic (5th highest); 34.3% Republican (5th lowest)
> Governor’s annual salary: $218,556 (2nd highest of 50 states)
> Unemployment rate, 2022: 4.2% (higher than nat’l avg.)
> Population: 39,455,353 (the largest of 50 states)

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

7. Maine Gov. Janet Mills
> Popularity: 57% approve; 40% disapprove
> Tenure: Took office in 2019, currently serving second term
> 2020 presidential election results: 53.1% Democratic (17th highest); 44.0% Republican (17th lowest)
> Governor’s annual salary: $70,000 (the lowest of 50 states)
> Unemployment rate, 2022: 3.0% (lower than nat’l avg.)
> Population: 1,357,046 (9th smallest of 50 states)

Source: Michael Ciaglo / Getty Images News via Getty Images

6. Colorado Gov. Jared Polis
> Popularity: 58% approve; 35% disapprove
> Tenure: Took office in 2019, currently serving second term
> 2020 presidential election results: 55.4% Democratic (14th highest); 41.9% Republican (14th lowest)
> Governor’s annual salary: $90,000 (2nd lowest of 50 states)
> Unemployment rate, 2022: 3.0% (lower than nat’l avg.)
> Population: 5,723,176 (21st largest of 50 states)

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5. Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly
> Popularity: 58% approve; 34% disapprove
> Tenure: Took office in 2019, currently serving second term
> 2020 presidential election results: 41.6% Democratic (18th lowest); 56.2% Republican (18th highest)
> Governor’s annual salary: $110,707 (9th lowest of 50 states)
> Unemployment rate, 2022: 2.7% (lower than nat’l avg.)
> Population: 2,932,099 (16th smallest of 50 states)

Source: Mark Makela / Getty Images News via Getty Images

4. Delaware Gov. John Carney
> Popularity: 58% approve; 31% disapprove
> Tenure: Took office in 2017, currently serving second term
> 2020 presidential election results: 58.7% Democratic (9th highest); 39.8% Republican (10th lowest)
> Governor’s annual salary: $171,000 (13th highest of 50 states)
> Unemployment rate, 2022: 4.5% (higher than nat’l avg.)
> Population: 981,892 (6th smallest of 50 states)

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Source: Bonnie Biess / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

3. Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont
> Popularity: 61% approve; 34% disapprove
> Tenure: Took office in 2019, currently serving second term
> 2020 presidential election results: 59.3% Democratic (8th highest); 39.2% Republican (9th lowest)
> Governor’s annual salary: $150,000 (24th highest of 50 states)
> Unemployment rate, 2022: 4.2% (higher than nat’l avg.)
> Population: 3,605,330 (22nd smallest of 50 states)

Source: hudopa / Flickr

2. Hawaii Gov. Josh Green
> Popularity: 62% approve; 22% disapprove
> Tenure: Took office in 2022, currently serving first term
> 2020 presidential election results: 63.7% Democratic (4th highest); 34.3% Republican (5th lowest)
> Governor’s annual salary: $165,048 (17th highest of 50 states)
> Unemployment rate, 2022: 3.5% (lower than nat’l avg.)
> Population: 1,453,498 (11th smallest of 50 states)

Source: John Sommers II / Getty Images News via Getty Images

1. Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear
> Popularity: 63% approve; 32% disapprove
> Tenure: Took office in 2019, currently serving first term
> 2020 presidential election results: 36.2% Democratic (8th lowest); 62.1% Republican (7th highest)
> Governor’s annual salary: $152,181 (23rd highest of 50 states)
> Unemployment rate, 2022: 3.9% (higher than nat’l avg.)
> Population: 4,494,141 (25th smallest of 50 states)

Methodology

To identify America’s most and least popular Democratic governors, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed approval and disapproval ratings for all 24 Democratic state governors from Morning Consult, a public opinion data research company. Governors are ranked by their approval rating. Ties were broken by disapproval ratings, and in the case when governors shared the same approval and disapproval rating, the governor with the largest survey sample size ranked higher. 

All polling data was collected among registered voters in the first quarter of 2023. 

Supplementary data on tenure and party affiliation is from the National Governors Association. Data on annual governor salary by state is current as of 2022 and is from the Council of State Governments

We also considered the 2022 annual unemployment rate in each state from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Population data is from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2021 American Community Survey. 

Data on the 2022 presidential election results by state is from The Cook Political Report, an independent, nonpartisan, political analysis newsletter.  

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