Poll: Pritzker drops to among least popular governors in the nation

Poll: Pritzker drops to among least popular governors in the nation

Less than one year into Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s first term, a new poll shows the governor’s popularity ranks eight spots from the bottom.

The summer of 2019 saw Illinoisans hosed with 20 new and raised taxes. And at least one poll suggests the governor’s approval rating could already be paying the price.

Quarterly polling released Oct. 23 by Morning Consult ranked Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker eighth least-popular among the 50 U.S. governors. It also showed Pritzker is underwater with independent voters.

The consulting firm surveyed registered voters in Illinois between July 1 – the effective date of Pritzker’s doubled gas tax – and Sept. 30 to capture voters’ attitude toward their governor in the third quarter. This most recent update shows Pritzker’s approval rating at 43% with a disapproval rating of 42%, while 14% of respondents did not have an opinion.

The governor might be most troubled by the direction in which those attitudes have trended. The firm’s first-quarter polling showed Pritzker enjoying 40% approval with only 29% who disapproved. Pritzker’s disapproval rating has spiked substantially to 42% as his approval rating has remained largely unchanged.

Pritzker’s support is strongest among Democrats. When approval is subtracted from disapproval, that net approval rating is plus 47 percentage points with his party members. That same net approval rating is minus 56 percentage points with Republicans and minus 11 points with independents.

Pritzker ranks sixth-least popular among the 23 Democratic governors.

In June, Pritzker signed into law record budget and infrastructure plans that came with a total of 20 new and increased taxes and fees and a price tag of $85 billion. What’s worse, those new revenue sources failed to bring the governor’s first budget into balance, despite his promise that it would be.

Illinoisans on July 1 felt the first pinch of those tax and fee hikes, when the state’s gas tax doubled and a variety of vehicle fees spiked.

Those tax and vehicle fee hikes alone were enough to cancel out Pritzker’s signature campaign promise of middle-class tax relief under a proposed progressive income tax overhaul, which goes before voters in November 2020. Any income tax savings middle-class households might see under the most optimistic “fair tax” scenario were immediately eclipsed by the doubled gas tax and vehicle fee increases.

And while Pritzker has delivered on some of his key campaign promises – such as legalizing recreational marijuana and expanding Illinois’ presence of casinos – his stances against corruption and partisan abuses have remained rhetorical at best.

Despite widespread support among Illinois voters for an end to partisan gerrymandering, Pritzker has yet to follow his promise to pursue redistricting reform with concrete action. In 2018 alone, Michigan, Missouri, Colorado and Utah approved constitutional amendments to end gerrymandering.

Moreover, Pritzker’s anti-corruption rhetoric was belied by his $45 billion capital plan, which came packed with pork-barrel spending and lawmaker self-dealing. Pritzker, who himself is under federal investigation for tax fraud, has remained largely silent as an ongoing federal corruption probe has circled in on Springfield and Chicago’s top power brokers, including state Sen. Martin Sandoval who engineered the capital plan and gas tax.

A recent Illinois Policy Institute report found public corruption cost the Illinois economy more than $550 million per year from 2000 to 2017, for a total of $9.9 billion – or nearly $800 per resident.

Illinoisans have made their wishes clear: tax relief and a more ethical government. To improve his favorables, Pritzker should work to deliver both.

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