Poll reveals: Markell most popular Democratic governor in the nation


DOVER — Gov. Jack Markell is the most popular Democratic governor in the nation, a new poll reveals.

Conducted by Morning Consult and released Thursday, the survey finds 66 percent of Delaware respondents approve of the job Gov. Markell, now in his final year in office, is doing. That ranks him fourth in the nation.

Gov. Jack Markell gives his recommended operating budget for Fiscal Year 2017 during a press conference held inside the Tatnall Building in Dover Thursday afternoon. (Delaware State News/Dave Chambers)

Jack A. Markell

Twenty-three percent of people said they did not approve and 11 percent were unsure.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead — all Republicans — lead the way in the poll.

Gov. Sam Brownback of Kansas, also a Republican, sits at the bottom.

Taken from January to May, the survey reports the views of more than 66,000 voters nationally. The margin of error for Gov. Markell is 5.4 percent.

“The governor will continue to focus on those things that expand economic opportunity in our state, whatever the polls of the moment say,” spokesman Jonathon Dworkin wrote in an email.

“He remains committed to the priorities that have guided his administration from day one and what he hears about most from Delawareans: fostering innovation and growth of Delaware businesses, supporting a 21st century workforce and providing access to a great education for all Delawareans.”

Gov. Markell, the third consecutive Democratic governor and fifth consecutive two-termer in Delaware, has remained popular with the state as a whole throughout his time in office. He will depart in January because of term limits.

State treasurer for 10 years, he won a bruising primary against then Lt. Gov. John Carney and claimed the top office in a general-election rout in 2008. He was re-elected four years later.

Gov. Markell is more popular than his predecessor, Ruth Ann Minner. A 2008 poll from Rasmussen Reports found 5 percent of Delawareans thought she was doing an excellent job. In contrast, 36 percent reported her performance as the state’s top executive was poor.

During his tenure, Delaware has struggled against the so-called Great Recession, a national economic slowdown that resulted in the loss of tens of thousands of jobs.

In March, the state posted a 4.4 percent unemployment rate, its best mark in nearly eight years.

However, not everyone would agree with the direction the state has moved in under Gov. Markell.

State Sen. Colin Bonini, a Dover Republican who is running for governor, said he was not surprised the governor received high marks. But he cautioned Delaware has a great deal of work to do in areas such as poverty and educational readiness.

“I think the entire political culture has failed Delaware,” he said.

Although Sen. Bonini declined to criticize Gov. Markell, calling him “a nice guy,” Republican lawmakers have butted heads with the governor on several occasions. Someof the high-profile disagreements have been in areas such as spending and education.

Administration officials frequently cite job growth under Gov. Markell’s administration, but the picture may not be as rosy as it initially appears. In April 2015, The Economist reported Delaware “was the only state in which hourly and weekly earnings dropped in cash terms” from 2009 to 2014.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics, however, shows that median annual earnings for the state rose from $35,690 in May 2009 to $36,710 in May 2012 and to $37,750 in May 2015.

On the social front, the Democratic-dominated state legislature has passed legislation approving same-sex marriage, marijuana decriminalization and transgender protection laws under Gov. Markell’s administration.

A 2015 survey from Morning Consult found 61 percent of Delawareans approved of Gov. Markell’s administration, ranking behind 11 others nationally. A poll from the year before found slightly lower popularity numbers, although it studied favorability.

Conducted by the University of Delaware’s Center for Political Communication, the survey reported 55 percent of Delaware residents viewed Gov. Markell favorably, versus 25 percent who did not.

According to a 2010 poll from Public Policy Polling, 50 percent of Delawareans approved of Gov. Markell, while 32 percent did not. The plus-18 mark was fifth best among all governors.

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