Thursday, October 16, 2008

Zero Plus Four is a Problem for Illinois

A new Rasmussen poll cited in today's subscriber-only Capitol Fax apparently finds voters extraordinarily dissatisfied with our governor. Zero percent of respondents rated Gov. Blagojevich's job in office as "excellent" and 4% rated him "good." That's a combined 4% in the good or better department, which pollsters commonly equate with approval ratings when they don’t ask specifically about approval. And the margin of error is likely +/- 4.5%. In contrast, 29% of respondents rated the governor "fair" and 65%, nearly two out of three Illinoisans polled, rated him "poor."

Another Rasmussen survey a few months ago put the governor's approval rating at 13%. Not easy to go down from 13%, you might think. But this governor can do what no one else thinks is possible. He can unite Democrats and Republicans behind a common theme. So kudos for that.

A 2000 General Election exit survey I found on-line suggests that 32% Illinois voters held a favorable view of then-Gov. George Ryan, which was after the first two dozen Operation Safe Roads convictions but still nearly three years before he was indicted and four years before his conviction. It would seem that George Ryan was 8 times as popular as Gov. Blagojevich.

Kidding aside, this governor has got to recognize that he has a serious problem on his hands. He has no credibility on reform issues. None. Zilch. Zero. And no degree of finger pointing, no amount of pounding the bully pulpit, no number of press releases will change that. Drop the "my way or the highway" approach. Forget about "are you with us or against us". Stop using "reform" proposals as vehicles for your own private vendettas. Focus more on the good of the state and less on the ego of the office holder.

Step by step, Illinois' political culture will improve. Gov. Blagojevich wants to be the poster child for reform. Right now, he's the leading example for why Illinois needs reform. At 4%, can he turn that around?