The specific duties of elected officials vary considerably from one branch of government to the next and between the different levels of government. But one common responsibility shared by virtually all those in elected office is to balance the interests, values, and priorities of their constituents. This is no easy task, particularly for those in powerful, high-profile positions who represent hundreds of thousands if not millions of Americans.
Consider, for example, the U.S. president. Subject to the individual judgements of over 250 million voting-age Americans, most presidents in recent decades have had approval ratings below 50%. According to Gallup survey data, George H.W. Bush is the only president since the Kennedy assassination with an average approval rating above 60% – and even he was voted out of office after a single term. (Here is a look at the most – and least – effective presidents in U.S. history.)
Like the president, each of the 50 sitting U.S. governors has the role of a chief executive. And as the highest-ranking and highest-profile elected official in state government, governors are also subject to constant public scrutiny. And some appear to be doing a better job than others.
Using survey data from Morning Consult, a public opinion research company, 24/7 Wall St. identified America’s most and least popular governors. We ranked all 50 sitting state governors by their 2023 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.
Currently, there are 26 Republican and 24 Democratic governors. Among them, approval ratings range from 42% to 78%. Of the 10 most popular sitting governors, seven are Republican – including Gov. Phil Scott of Vermont, one of the most left-leaning states in the country.
While there are notable exceptions, states with smaller populations often have more popular governors. Vermont and Wyoming, for example, are the only states home to fewer than 650,000 people – and the governors of those states have the highest approval ratings in the country.
Two governors on this list, Ron DeSantis of Florida and Doug Burgum of North Dakota, are leveraging their platforms to run for the top spot on the Republican ticket in the 2024 presidential election. Both DeSantis and Burgum have a 56% approval rating. Several former governors are also among the growing field of Republican presidential hopefuls, including Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas, Mike Pence of Indiana, Chris Christie of New Jersey, and Nikki Haley of South Carolina. (Here is a look at each president’s path to the Oval Office.)
Click here to see the most and least popular governors in America.
Click here to see our detailed methodology.
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