Reminding voters what they didn’t like about the GOP

A fascinating poll out of Florida was released a couple of days ago. It didn’t just show Gov. Rick Scott (R) as unpopular — a detail we already knew — it also showed that Floridians hate the right-wing chief executive so much, it might influence their 2012 decision.

Specifically, Public Policy Polling found that 40% of Florida voters said Scott’s failures have made them less likely to support a Republican in the presidential election. What’s more, nearly one in five of voters who disapprove of President Obama’s job performance are part of this group — they’re unsatisfied with the president thus far, but Scott has soured them on the GOP.

The next question, then, is considering just how widespread this is.

Third Way, a centrist Democratic group, this week published an interesting chart, showing the declining popularity of Republican governors in key 2012 battleground states. Some of these governors are very unpopular, with approval ratings in the low-to-mid 30s. (click the image for a larger view)

So, after the 2010 wave that swept a massive number of Republicans into office, has the American mainstream suddenly been reminded of what it was they didn’t like about the GOP in the first place? Will the buyers’ remorse affecting the electorate still resonate a year from now?

Norman Ornstein argued recently that “the deep and growing unpopularity of the Republican governors and state legislatures” may very well boost President Obama’s chances “in the key swing states that will determine the 2012 electoral majority.”

Ornstein added, “[T]he huge Republican victories in the states in 2010, along with the immense hubris they brought to the winning governors, has had a serious down side, there to be exploited to the hilt by Obama’s reelection campaign.”

Matt Yglesias isn’t buying it. He argued, “My baseline view is simply that everything matters less for presidential elections than people would have you believe…. Polling from 2007 indicated that about a third of the population couldn’t even name their governor and elections tend to be swung by people with relatively low levels of political information. Meanwhile, I can’t off the top of my head think of any examples of this kind of ‘unpopular governor effect’ swinging a state in a presidential election.”

I have mixed feelings about this, so I thought I’d open it up to some discussion. Will the wildly unpopular right-wing governors boost Obama’s chances next year or not?

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.