Rell's Approval Slips, but Still Remains High
Public Not Sold on Gas Tax, Wants Millionaire's Tax
Quinnipiac University released a new Connecticut poll today showing Gov. Rell's approval rating slipping somewhat from 83% (January 13) to 74% in the wake of the release of her first budget earlier this month.
Here are the numbers: (from Quinnipiac University, go check them out)
Feb 18, 2005: 74% approve; 14% disapprove; 11% don't know/NA
Jan 13, 2005: 83% approve; 3% disapprove; 14% don't know/NA
Her approval rating in January was the highest ever recorded for a Connecticut governor in a Q-poll, and followed her first State of the State and the revelation that she had undergone surgery for breast cancer. She has lost support among Democrats and Republicans almost equally (drops of 7 and 9 percentage points respectively), and has lost 10% among independents. Her biggest drop was among men, who approved of her 82/4 in January, and now approve of her 71/16.
So what does all this mean? Despite the budget wrangling and name-calling over the past week, Gov. Rell is still an enormously popular figure among Connecticut residents. Democrats may have been hoping for a bigger slide, and may be disappointed to learn that residents identifying themselves with the Democratic Party still give her such strong support.
More worrisome for Rell is the strong support for the "millionaire's tax" (supported 76%-22%, and has strong support amongst Republicans, 62%-32%) and opposition to a new gas tax (opposed 61%-37%). Since Rell has declared herself "open" to the millionaire's tax, I imagine we'll see that implemented in the near future. It may either help to offset the proposed gas tax or replace it entirely.
There is lukewarm opposition to the governor's plans for a $1 surcharge on rail tickets in Fairfield County (opposed 50%-44%), but the plan finds support elsewhere in the state. This will probably pass, too.
Good news for the governor comes in the form of very strong support for a proposed cigarette and alcohol tax, the so-called "sin taxes". Not surprising in a state where only 18% smoke and 7% are daily drinkers.
Also, the proposition to ban cell phone use while driving is supported 86%-13%. Maybe it will actually pass this session.
Overall, this poll shows the governor in good position to get most of what she wants out of the budget process this year. Enacting a higher gas tax may hurt her somewhat, but the implementation of the millionaire's tax should help soften the blow. Look for her ratings to drop again somewhat as this process wears on, but it is unlikely that she'll drop below 60% any time soon.