With President Bush’s popularity soaring since the attacks of Sept. 11, Gov. Scott McCallum is also feeling a boost in popularity.
According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, a poll done by McLaughlin & Associates for McCallum’s campaign found that for the first time since McCallum’s administration began, he has an approval rating above 50 percent.
The poll asked if respondents had a favorable opinion of “Scott McCallum,” not “Governor Scott McCallum.” Results showed that 54.8 percent of respondents had a favorable impression of McCallum.
Despite the 54.8 percent approval rating, those polled were almost equally split on a question rating his job performance.
Forty-six percent said McCallum’s job performance was excellent or good while 45.2 percent said it was fair or poor. Thirty-one percent of those polled had no opinion, favorable or unfavorable, of McCallum.
Since the attacks, Bush’s approval rating has skyrocketed, up 40 points to nearly 90 percent approval. McCallum, a fellow Republican, has also gotten a popularity jolt.
“He is Republican,” UW-Madison political science professor Donald Downs said. “Bush’s ratings have gone sky-high, and [McCallum] seems to be on board with that.”
Although McCallum’s ratings have increased, they have not increased as much as Bush’s.
“He is not able to do the kind of things that Bush has done to jump his approval, but he is helped by Bush,” Downs said. “He is riding the waves that Bush has created, but he is not able to make the same kind of waves that Bush is making.”
In times of national emergencies, it is typical for approval ratings to increase. Because of this trend, UW political science professor Don Kettl said it is difficult to decipher the poll’s results.
“One of the things that we see from the most recent poll is that [McCallum’s] popularity is pretty good,” Kettl said. “It is hard, at this point, to separate out his attempts to increase his name recognition and increased approval from the afterglow of trust in the government.”
The gubernatorial race is still 13 months away, and although the most recent poll places McCallum’s approval rating higher than ever, the results may be inflated since the attacks. Therefore, it is uncertain what effects this poll will have on the race.
“The governor’s race is still quite a ways away,” Downs said. “It is really too early to tell.”
In contrast, Kettl said the poll is a sign that McCallum is on a positive track.
“There are signs McCallum has established a pretty good base, but the poll also suggests some people would disagree with his ideas,” Kettl said.
However, the terrorist attacks have disrupted the political sphere, and Kettl said at this point nothing is certain.
“It will take a while to take get us past the events of Sept. 11 and for politics to sort itself out,” he said.