Governor OKs infusion of cash for public education

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. Luis Sánchez Saturno/New Mexican file photo

New governors can usually count on some sort of honeymoon during their first months in office marked by high approval ratings.

But one new survey suggests the honeymoon could be coming to an end already for Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.

An online tracking poll by the market research firm Morning Consult found 41 percent of New Mexico voters surveyed approve of the Democratic governor’s job performance while 33 percent disapprove.

That is well “above water” in polling parlance, with more people approving than disapproving.

And Lujan Grisham’s predecessor, Gov. Susana Martinez, ranked among the country’s least popular governors in the country in similar surveys toward the end of her administration, with an approval rating in the 30s.

Still, 41 percent is low for new governors in the state.

Lujan Grisham won last year’s election with 57 percent of the vote. The same election saw Democrats sweep state House districts in nearly all of Albuquerque. This year’s legislative session ended with the governor getting much of what she wanted, from hundreds of millions of dollars in additional funding for public schools to an increase in the minimum wage.

But she also backed several gun control measures as well as an effort to repeal an old ban on abortion, jumping into two hot-button issues at the same time Democrats in the Legislature debated a slate of tax increases.

Meanwhile, the state’s employment rate has improved, but the unemployment rate remains among the country’s highest.

The survey showed tepid approval for many new governors across the nation. From Illinois to Oklahoma, Alaska to Colorado, approval ratings in the 40s were common.

The most popular governors in the new survey were Republicans governing blue states — Charlie Baker in Massachusetts and Larry Hogan in Maryland. The least popular were Matt Bevin, a Republican in Kentucky, and Gina Raimondo, a Democrat in Rhode Island.

“On the whole, Democratic voters are less hostile toward Republican governors than vice versa,” Morning Consult noted in its analysis of the survey, which ran from Jan. 1 through the end of March, with the company surveying over 5,000 registered voters around the country on a daily basis. Lujan Grisham took office Jan. 1.

The survey included the state’s Democratic senators, too, with 39 percent of those surveyed approving of both Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich’s job performance, while 31 percent and 32 percent disapproved, respectively.