For the first time since the fall of 2017, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu’s approval rating has dropped out of the top 10 for American governors. His Vermont neighbor now holds the top spot.
Morning Consult regularly polls the popularity of all 50 state chief executives and just as regularly Sununu has appeared in the top 10 — rising as high as number four. But in the most recent poll released last week Sununu dropped to 12, edged out by Democrats Andy Beshear (Ky.) and Ned Lamont (Conn.)
For years, Sununu and his fellow East Coast Republicans — Charlie Baker of Massachusetts, Larry Hogan of Maryland, and Phil Scott of Vermont — have dominated the top of the approval pack. All were included in this poll, taken before Baker and Hogan left office earlier this month.
Not that Sununu’s numbers are bad. Still, he was the only one of the trio to drop out of the top 10. Why?
Veteran GOP strategist David Carney said, “Follow the Democratic money.
“New Hampshire had a very heated, partisan election cycle with Democrats spending millions attacking, not just Republican candidates, but Republicans in general. Hassan, Pappas, even Kuster — that was a lot of money. Hogan and Baker didn’t run for re-election and Scott basically ran opposed.”
“Elections have consequences,” Carney added.
Sununu’s slipping numbers are certainly not from a lack of media attention. Since the November elections, Sununu has been on a campaign-style march through the spotlight with appearances on national conservative radio shows (Hugh Hewitt, Brian Kilmeade), on national political podcasts (Politico, The Axe Files with David Axelrod), and a slew of cable news hits. Last Wednesday, Sununu appeared on CNBC, Fox News, and CNN—all on the same day.
Unlike New Hampshire, there were no hotly-contested statewide races in Massachusetts or Maryland and little reason for Democrats to spend money there.
And in the opinion of political strategist Tom Rath, Sununu’s numbers are still impressive for another reason.
“Most politicians, like house guests, start to stink after three terms,” Rath said. “For him to be where he still is in the numbers is a sign of strength, not weakness.
“Plus, we keep our pols on a pretty short leash. For him to be basically at 60 in a purple state after gazillions of bucks were spent against him is remarkable and a validation of the good sense of the New Hampshire electorate.
Worth noting: While Sununu might not be in the top 10, he’s still ranked higher than Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.)