MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - For the first time since she took over as just the second female governor in Alabama history, Kay Ivey’s popularity has taken a sharp hit in the quarterly polling conducted by Morning Consult.
Ivey, who had stayed steady as the nation’s third most popular governor for five consecutive quarters, fell out of the Top 10 in the second quarter of 2019. That fall correlates to a net 16-point drop in the governor’s approval rating, according to Morning Consult.
Support among Republicans dropped by 15 points, 18 points with Independents, and 20 points with Democrats.
Morning Consult indicates much of the drop is attributed to Ivey’s signing of a controversial bill that bans abortion in the state except in the case of the mother’s health being in danger. There are no exceptions in cases of rape or incest.
The law, which has brought national criticism and threats of boycotts, makes performing an abortion at any stage of pregnancy a felony for doctors and a penalty of up to 99 years in prison. The law, designed as a challenge to the landmark Roe v. Wade decision, is being challenged in court and has not yet gone into effect.
When reached for comment, Gov. Ivey’s press secretary, Gina Maiola, said the governor “is passionate about seeking positive change in the state of Alabama, even if that means taking on unpopular issues.” She added “Every decision of Governor Ivey’s is to create a better quality of life for all Alabamians.”
Other governors signed abortion restrictions into law around the same time, though none of them suffered quite the dip in approval from their constituents as Ivey. Georgia, Missouri, and Louisiana were among those championing fetal heartbeat laws that restrict abortion to around 6-8 weeks.
Georgia’s Brian Kemp and Missouri’s Mike Parson saw support among fellow Republicans increase, and while Democratic support dropped, neither saw plunges like Ivey. Louisiana Gov. John Bell Edwards, a Democrat, saw declines from voters in both parties after he signed that state’s bill, but his net approval among all voters slipped just a single point. Ivey’s plummeted by 17.
The news is not all bad for Ivey, however. Despite the drop, Morning Consult says she remains a popular governor with 57 percent approving and 29 percent disapproving. She’s also presiding over a state with a booming economy and historically low unemployment rates.
“There are critical challenges that have faced the state for years, and Governor Ivey stepped in as a leader who is unafraid to bring forward solutions so that the people of Alabama can see real results,” Maiola said. “Through her leadership, Alabama is making enhancements to our infrastructure system. She is tackling the multifaceted challenges facing the state’s prisons. She is also bringing forward a bold plan to help make improvements to our state’s education system.”
Morning Consult says its daily polling shows that following the May signing of the abortion bill, “views have mostly steadied since” on favorability for Ivey, as well as the other abortion law-signing governors.
Among all governors, Republican Charlie Baker of Massachusetts continues to be the nation’s most popular chief executive with 73 percent approval. Matt Bevin, the Republican governor of Kentucky is the nation’s least popular with 32 percent approval.
There are 27 Republican and 23 Democratic governors. Morning Consult’s polling shows the 14 most popular are all Republicans - with Ivey at No. 12 - while Democrats are among eight of the 10 least popular.
The latest nationwide rankings of governors are based on 487,624 surveys of registered voters conducted April 1 through June 30.