Gov. Kenny Guinn's approval ratings have slipped 10 percent since the start of the legislative session in February, with less than half of Nevadans saying he is doing an excellent or good job, according to a Las Vegas Review-Journal/reviewjournal.com poll published Saturday.
In February, 53 percent approved of his job performance, but 56 percent said they didn't like his tax proposal, according to a previous poll conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling&Research Inc. for the Review-Journal and reviewjournal.com.
But the battle over taxes has taken its toll, with 43 percent of Nevadans now saying Guinn is doing an excellent or good job as governor.
The largest drop in Guinn's support came from his fellow Republicans. In February, 63 percent of Republicans rated him excellent or good. In the most recent poll, that number dropped to 44 percent _ the same approval rating given by Democrats.
"The governor is paying a price for his tax package,"said Brad Coker, managing director of Mason-Dixon, which is based in Washington, D.C."He spent some of his political capital to get a tax package through."
While the Legislature approved a budget that has been signed into law, it has been unable to muster a two-thirds majority required to pass a tax plan to pay for it. Guinn proposed a plan months ago requiring nearly $1 billion in new taxes over the next two years.
A recent state Supreme Court ruling is expected to clear the way for lawmakers to vote next week on its version of a tax plan that will likely include portions of Guinn's proposal and could raise about $860 million to help balance the state's record $5 billion budget for this and the next fiscal year.
Guinn, who will not seek re-election in 2006 because of term limits, said his 10-percent drop"is to be expected when you're in as difficult a position as we're in."
The poll released Saturday was also conducted by Mason-Dixon. It surveyed 625 registered Nevada voters between July 8 and July 9 and had an error margin of four percentage points.
"What amazed me the most was the large increase in those rating him as poor,"said Michael Bowers, chairman of UNLV's Political Science Department."Among Republicans, it went from 13 percent to 32 percent. He did get a 2 percentage point increase in the number of Democrats who rated him excellent, but that's not enough to balance the loss."
Voters didn't merely downgrade Guinn's performance to fair, they went straight to the poor category, Bowers said.
"When the state government is in chaos and crisis, people look to the governor to fix it,"Bowers said."Because this chaos went on as long as it did, some people perceive him to be ineffective. ... When the system is broken, they look to the governor and say it must be his fault."
The poll also showed 43 percent of independents rated Guinn as excellent or good, a drop from 56 percent in February. Guinn's job performance rating was slightly higher in Washoe County (48 percent), than Clark County (42 percent) and in the rural counties (41 percent).