There was a time when a governor’s popularity correlated closely to the economy. For Gov. Kate Brown, those two measurements have completely diverged.
On Nov. 17, state officials announced in the quarterly revenue forecast that Oregon’s economy continued to boom.
“Recent forecasts have called for tax collections to return to earth,” wrote state economist Josh Lehner. “Instead of normalizing, however, revenue growth has accelerated further. In recent weeks, daily collection records have been set for both personal income tax withholdings and corporate tax collections. In addition, lottery sales continue to set records for this time of year.”
On Nov. 18, the Morning Consult published a story collecting governors’ approval ratings for all 50 states. The ranking showed that Brown’s approval rating from Oregonians is just 43%—the lowest of any governor in the nation.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee’s approval rating is 55%; California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who recently survived a recall, is at 56%. The nation’s most popular governor, Republican Phil Scott, leading the blue state of Vermont, is at 79%. (The second- and third-highest-rated governors, Charlie Baker of Massachusetts and Larry Hogan of Maryland, are also Republicans leading blue states.)
Portland pollster John Horvick of DHM Research, who tweeted about the Morning Consult story, says recent polling by his firm found similar levels of dissatisfaction with Brown.
“Her numbers are as negative as Trump’s were during his administration,” Horvick says.
Every state, of course, has suffered through the pandemic and the health, social and economic dislocations. Horvick says he’s not sure entirely why Brown’s ratings are so low, but he thinks Portland’s grim year may play a role.
“Voters are mad about homelessness and really upset about crime,” Horvick says. “There is disorder and decay out there, and I think voters are feeling somebody should be held accountable.”
Brown’s spokesman, Charles Boyle, says the governor is focused on serving her constituents rather than worrying about polls.
“Gov. Brown’s top concerns are the health and well-being of Oregon families, keeping students learning in classrooms, and a strong and equitable economic recovery––not her political favorability,” Boyle says.