Is this poll half-empty or half-full?
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham probably was pondering that question late last week when Morning Consult, a Washington, D.C.-based polling firm, published its quarterly ratings of governors and senators.
On the bright side, the poll showed the new governor with more people approving her performance during her first three months in office than those who disapproved. The gap was 8 percentage points.
On the other hand, the poll showed that Democrat Lujan Grisham was the sixth least-popular governor in these United States.
That last fact was instantly noted by a Republican political action committee run by Jay McCleskey, former Gov. Susana Martinez’s controversial political guru.
McCleskey — or whoever runs the Twitter account for Advance New Mexico Now — posted a link to the poll, saying, “Only 5 governors have a lower approval rating than MLG at 41 percent approval. Martinez approval in 2011 was 65 percent. Strikingly anemic poll numbers considering the favorable press coverage and non-existent scrutiny.”
A couple of things:
Advance’s tweet doesn’t mention that when she left office last year, the same polling company found Martinez’s approval number at 35 percent, while 49 percent disapproved of her performance.
As for “favorable press coverage and non-existent scrutiny,” the New Mexico political press corps — and I personally — received similar criticism from many Democrats during Martinez’s first year in office. Truth is, most elected officials get some kind of “honeymoon” treatment when they first get in.
But McCleskey — or whoever — has a point about Lujan Grisham’s “anemic” numbers. They are indeed significantly lower than Martinez’s or Bill Richardson’s in his first months in office.
I suppose one could argue that these are more divisive, partisan times than those golden days of yesteryear, and trust of incumbent politicians is low.
The thing is, both Richardson and Martinez started out with great numbers only to see their approval ratings tank during their second terms. If Lujan Grisham is starting out barely above 40 percent, where will they go in the next few years?
Looking at that new poll, the current governor’s net approval (the number of those who approve minus the number of those who disapprove) among those who identify as Democrats was 58 percent. As for Republicans in the state, the net approval was negative 43 percent. Lujan Grisham did a little better than break even with independents, who gave her a net 1 percent edge in approval.
The governor’s approval ratings are similar to those of the state’s two senators, both of whom are Democrats.
Sen. Tom Udall had 39 percent approving and 31 percent disapproving of his performance, for a net rating of plus 8. The poll showed Sen. Martin Heinrich with a 39 percent approval number and 32 percent disapproval, for a net 7 percent.
Udall’s net approval among Democrats was plus 52 percent. Republicans disapproved by a net 25 percent. Heinrich’s numbers were plus 55 with Dems and negative 31 percent with Republicans. Like Lujan Grisham, the net approval of the two senators by independents was a whopping 1 percent.
Boring methodology paragraph: Morning Consult conducted 472,802 surveys with registered U.S. voters from January 1 through March 31 to determine the rankings. That number is for the whole country. The numbers for how many New Mexicans were surveyed was not available. The the margin of error was listed at 2 percent in New Mexico.
I’m pretty sure that neither Udall, who is not seeking another term, nor Heinrich, who won’t have to worry about re-election until the 2024 election, will lose much sleep over these poll numbers.
And even though these numbers are hardly a reason to pop open the Champagne for Lujan Grisham, Udall or Heinrich, state Democrats can console themselves that all of these leaders are far more popular than a certain Republican likely to be at the top of the ballot next year: President Donald Trump. In March, Morning Consult showed Trump with a net negative approval rating of 11 percent.
But as someone who follows politics, the most disturbing numbers found in the latest show show that 30 percent of those surveyed had never heard of Udall, 29 percent had never heard of Heinrich and 27 percent had never heard of Lujan Grisham.
I just want to know — where do they find these people?