Highs in the 70s
As thoughts turn to next week’s winter break for New Hampshire schools, Arizona and Florida won’t be the only possible destinations with highs in the 70s. Right here in the Granite State, new public opinion data from the UNH Survey Center shows Gov. John Lynch starting his third term in office with an impressive 74% approval rating.
The one caveat of course is that the survey was conducted between February 5th and 9th, before Gov. Lynch’s February 12th budget address announcing layoffs. So, it can’t account for any potential negative impact of the governor’s budget proposal on his approval rating. Still, a net favorability rating of +68% in your fifth year as chief executive is a pretty remarkable feat. We will have to wait and see whether subsequent polling picks up any negative reaction to the current budget situation, even as Lynch prepares to oversee distribution of the federal stimulus dollars that will arrive shortly.
I have noted before that two key factors appear to be working in the governor’s favor. First, voters tend to view the current economic crisis as national, if not global in scope. As a result, any individual governor is less likely to pay a political price for difficulties viewed to some extent as beyond his control (Republican arguments about Lynch’s culpability not withstanding).
Second, Lynch’s style of governing exhibits a notable lack of partisan messaging and a knack for presenting bad news as shared sacrifice. As the governor’s budget address underscores, he speaks the language of business and managerial science, rather than ideology. The result is fewer counterproductive pokes in the eye of the opposition. In fact, for all of the talk about President Obama’s plans for a post-partisan Washington, it feels like the governor’s own pilot program has been underway at the Statehouse for several years now.

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