Gov. Bill Walker is the most unpopular state governor seeking re-election this year, the results of a new poll indicate.
The poll, conducted by Morning Consult between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31, found 55 percent of Alaska’s registered voters disapprove of Walker’s performance as governor and only 29 percent approve. Fifteen percent didn’t know. The poll has a 5 percent margin of error.
That’s the lowest approval rating among the 19 governors seeking re-election this year. Walker’s disapproval rating is the sixth highest among all governors. (Two of the governors ranked worse than Walker, New Jersey’s Chris Christie and Kansas’ Sam Brownback, left office between the time the poll was conducted and when the results were released. Connecticut’s Dan Malloy is highest among the remaining governors.)
Walker’s disapproval rating has spiked since the last poll, when 47 percent of Alaskans disapproved of Walker’s performance and 40 percent approved. In July 2017, Walker had a 42 percent approval rating.
Morning Consult publishes a nationwide gubernatorial opinion poll each quarter. It polled 253,000 registered voters nationwide — the number of people in Alaska wasn’t released in the poll’s methodology — and releases approval and disapproval ratings for all 50 state governors.
Walker, who was elected in 2014, had high approval ratings in the poll until his 2016 decision to veto half the funding for the annual Permanent Fund Dividend. The Alaska Legislature halved the dividend in 2017, precluding another veto. Both actions were inspired by the state’s multibillion-dollar deficit.
In early 2016, Walker had a 62 percent approval rating, making him one of the 10 most popular governors in the nation. Only 21 percent of Alaskans disapproved of his work. Now, Walker is among the 10 least-popular governors in the nation.
Importantly for those following the governor’s race in the fall 2018 election, the poll does not indicate whether Walker is preferable to other candidates in the race.
Six Republicans have filed letters of intent or filed with the Alaska Division of Elections to run in the state’s Republican primary scheduled for August. One of those candidates, former state senator Charlie Huggins, has suspended his campaign.
Four remain actively campaigning: sitting state Rep. Mike Chenault, R-Chugiak; Gerald Heikes of Palmer; Anchorage businessman Scott Hawkins; Petersburg’s Michael Sheldon; and former state Sen. Mike Dunleavy, R-Wasilla.
On the Democratic side, no one has filed with the Division of Elections. As an independent, Walker would appear on the ballot only in the November general election, not in the August primary.
Dunleavy is considered the current frontrunner among active Republican candidates. He topped a Republican Party straw poll held last week in Juneau, and an independent expenditure committee created to back his campaign has announced more than half a million dollars in donations from a handful of wealthy backers.
Top 10 disapproval ratings
Chris Christie (R-NJ) - 76%
Dan Malloy (D-CT) - 68%
Sam Brownback (R-KS) - 64%
Mary Fallin (R-OK) - 61%
Susana Martinez (R-NM) - 57%
Bill Walker (I-AK) - 55%
Bruce Rauner (R-IL) - 55%
Paul LePage (R-ME) - 53%
Scott Walker (R-WI) - 50%
Rick Snyder (R-MI) - 50%
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