Monday, June 22, 2009

Up Front: Gov. Doyle's Job Rating and GOP Opportunity

Up Front's second story of the week. Governor Doyle's job approval ratings have fallen and two polls produced opposite results for trial heats against Scott Walker and Mark Neumann. Where does this polling put the Governor for a 2010 reelection campaign? What opportunities does this present to the GOP challengers? See the video here.

Let's take a look at Gov. Doyle's job approval ratings that are behind the comments on Up Front. First, overall approval and disapproval:

The amazing bit of this chart is how approval peaks just in time for the reelection in 2006. Up to the fall of 2006 the Governor's net approval was negative. It was the campaign that boosted him, whether through the quality of his campaign, a failure of Mark Green's campaign, or national pro-Democratic forces. Since the reelection, however, Gov. Doyle's approval has stayed in net-negative territory, converging only for a moment in late 2008 and since then plunging.

The decline in approval has come among both independents and Democrats. Republicans have never had a high opinion of the governor. But the drop among Dems as well as inds should be worrisome to the reelection staff.
As the story says, this opens an opportunity for the GOP, but it is one they have to find a way to exploit in the campaign, not one they can take for granted. Likewise, the Governor can campaign on handling difficult situations which in 2006 at least the public was willing to accept, even after the very difficult budgets of 2003-2004.

Question: How would you frame the campaign for either Doyle or the GOP? What is the strength for Doyle and what is the weakness for the GOP?


  1. If I were Gov. Doyle, I would frame around the "look what I have made it through" campaign. I would make sure to point out that almost all the states are in similar problems currently, and that it is not his fault alone that the economy plundered. I would point to other states such as California that has a Republican governor with a huge deficit and show that the alternative is not necessarily any better. I would point to the huge budget cuts that are happening now and that you know how to stretch the budget. Though it does not necessarily look good for Gov. Doyle currently, there are plenty of ways to spin it or to make things seem more positive then many believe. He has experience under his belt, and that could be one of the most important things for many voters.

    - Luke D

  2. Doyle needs to play up his role as a manager in a time of crisis. The state is short $6.6 billion, and the budget he proposed/cuts that he made all stem from his trying to address that fact. This is the first time that both houses have had Democratic majorities, so he can claim that this is his first real opportunity to fix the financial problems of the state, and that it's going to be painful at first.

    The GOP needs to emphasize the heat he's taking within his own party. Many of Doyle's budget provisions have caused a lot of headaches for legislators, Dems and Republicans alike. A plummeting job rating within his own party means that he'll be vulnerable at the primaries, and a moderate Republican candidate would possibly be able to persuade more left-leaning voters to vote GOP.

    -Eric M.

  3. On the Republican side, whomever ends up being the Republican nominee needs to play up the fact that when Democrats had control of the Assembly, Senate, and Governor's office, Doyle was unable to lead the state out of a recession. The GOP campaign will also need to point out that time and time again, Doyle, instead of taking responsiblility for irresponsible spending, he has blamed Washington for all the troubles that Wisconsin faces. While some of our state's problems are rooted at the national level, not all of them are. This year's budget will still be fresh in the minds of voters as we reach closer and closer to the election in 2010, and it will not bode well for Governor Doyle.
    Kristen W.

  4. If I were Governor Doyle, I would most likely take the route to argue that the citizens of Wisconsin may not want a new face to take over during the middle of this economic crisis. Just as I feel President Bush was reelected because citizens were scared to put someone in office during what was the middle of the Iraq War and take the risk that conditions would get worse instead of just having the same person see it through, I think that if nothing else, Governor Doyle would be able to say the same, especially if things start to look up in the next year. And as always, he has experience that the other candidate will not have. If I were the GOP candidate, I would definately point out the negative approval ratings that have haunted Doyle throughout his time in office. In addition, I would play up the idea that it is "time for change," and that the state is ready for fresh and new ideas because the old ones weren't working well enough. Regardless, both campaigns are going to have to work hard in this coming election. It will by no means be a cakewalk for Doyle. However, I think that it is more likely that Doyle be reelected to finish out what he started than put someone new in office.

  5. Doyle needs to understand that there are many things in this state that need fixing. People look forthe state budget to include large key things, not garbage cans- a local level thing- now state government is local so to speak,but it intends to do things on a different level than local.
    There are tough times right now and Doyle can play on that, by one: getting Wisconsin out of serious debt and, two: using those challenges as a way to challenge himself into achieving great accomplishments and letting Wisconsin know that he can do that. Bwecause the system has been down since 2003-2004, by this time, many are looking for stable change. If Doyle can do that, he can play on the fact that he "saved the state". GOP can also play on it and place negative spins on virtually anything. Either way, bith must do someting to counter the other, something positive and stable, not name calling.


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