First-term Delaware Gov. Jack Markell, recently tapped to head the Democratic Governors Association, and Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal, who may run for an unprecedented third term., also possess enviable ratings.
Republicans can point to their own chief executives who are floating above it all. Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell, who succeeded Sarah Palin in July, is viewed positively by more than 70 percent of voters, according to a new poll released Saturday. North Dakota Gov. John Hoeven, the longest serving governor in the nation, has through-the-roof poll numbers and is regarded as a shoo-in to win the state’s open Senate seat. Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman’s stellar numbers have him often mentioned as a potential challenger to Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson in 2012. and Govs. Bobby Jindal and Haley Barbour, of Louisiana and Mississippi, respectively, have unusually strong numbers, given their high-profile and often partisan roles.
It’s no accident, governors and other close observers say, that the most popular governors at the moment tend to hail from smaller states, where governors are in closer touch — and have a more personal relationship — with voters, something that is critical to maintaining trust with an electorate that is frustrated and fearful of its economic circumstances.