14 of the 16 Most Popular Governors Are Republicans

A new poll shows Republican governors winning higher approval from voters than their Democratic counterparts less than one year out from the midterm elections.

The Morning Consult poll released Thursday found that of the 16 most popular governors in America, 14 of them are Republicans.

GOP governors leading Democratic-leaning states earned especially high approval ratings. Four Republicans in states won by President Joe Biden in 2020 top the list.

Governors Phil Scott of Vermont, Charlie Baker of Massachusetts and Larry Hogan of Maryland all have an approval rating of above 70 percent, the poll found. Biden easily won those three states with at least 65 percent of the vote.

Cameron Easley, senior editor at Morning Consult, told Newsweek in an interview Saturday afternoon that voters in these states give their Republican governors such high approval ratings because they view them as a "hand break" on their liberal state legislatures. He also pointed out that all three have been vocally critical of Trump.

"They're just kind of happy to have some kind of Republican executive who can serve as a check for an extremely liberal legislature," he said.

Easley also said that while Scott, Baker and Hogan enjoy wide popularity in their home states, they aren't likely to be viable in a presidential election because they are too moderate for the broader Republican electorate.

New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu has an approval rating of 67 percent in a state Biden won by about seven points, according to the poll.

Other Republican state leaders with high approval ratings include Mark Gordon of Wyoming; Jim Justice of West Virginia; Kay Ivey of Alabama; Mike DeWine of Ohio; Spencer Cox of Utah; Doug Burgum of North Dakota; Greg Gianforte of Montana; Kristi Noem of South Dakota; Eric Holcomb of Indiana; and Mike Dunleavy of Alaska. They represent either solidly GOP or Republican-leaning states.

Only two Democrats—Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont and Rhode Island Governor Dan McKee—broke the top 16, according to the poll.

Three Democrats—Maine Governor Janet Mills, Colorado Governor Jared Polis, and New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy—as well as Republican Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson round out the 20 most popular governors, the poll found.

Of the five governors with the lowest approval rating, four—Oregon Governor Kate Brown, Hawaii Governor David Ige, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers, and New York Governor Kathy Hochul—are Democrats. Republican Doug Ducey of Arizona has the second lowest approval rating at 44 percent, according to the poll.

Easley warned against drawing too many conclusions about the 2022 midterm elections from the poll, noting that congressional elections are tied to national issues, while gubernatorial races often focus on local issues.

"The vast majority of these folks are over 50 percent, and I think that's largely a function of state and local politics generally being far less divisive and toxic than our national political scene," he said. "When you're talking about the midterm elections, you're much more tied closely to that kind of national dynamic than that state level dynamic."

Several GOP governors have distanced themselves from former President Donald Trump in recent months, opting to focus on local, rather than national, politics as they seek re-election, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

Some Republican governors are facing primary opponents from Trump-alligned Republicans—including Charlie Baker in Massachusetts, whose opponent is endorsed by Trump.

Former Vice President Mike Pence told the Republican Governors Association that he would support incumbents according to the Journal.

The poll comes less than a year out from the midterm elections, when several governors are up for re-election.

Bolstered by Biden's relatively low approval rating, Republicans are hoping to win back not only governorships in key states but to pick up enough House and Senate seats to win control of Congress.

Other polls have found that Republicans appear to be well-positioned to do so. One released last week found that 51 percent of voters said they would vote for Republicans in congressional elections.

Update 11/20/21, 3:51 PM ET: with comments from Morning Consult's Cameron Easley.

Governor Phil Scott
Republican Governor Phil Scott, pictured above speaking to a voter in 2018, is the most popular governor in the United States, according to a poll that found Republican governors receiving higher marks than their Democratic counterparts. DON EMMERT/AFP via Getty Images