Thursday, April 7, 2011

Buyer’s Remorse

Brace yourself; Gov. Rick Scott is not very popular.

Booed at a ballpark. Protested at a parade. Mocked on fake dollar bills.

Rick Scott doesn’t just seem more disliked — he is, in fact, growing increasingly unpopular, according to the latest Quinnipiac University survey of 1,499 registered Florida voters.

The poll found that 48 percent disapproved of how Scott is doing — more than double the level measured in a February poll.

Only 35 percent gave the Republican newcomer a favorable rating, exactly what it was more than a month ago.

Scott said he wasn’t concerned with the poll; he just wants to fix problems.

“I’m not trying to win most popular,” he said.

Well, so far he’s got nothing to worry about on that score.

This represents a trend. Wisconsin, Ohio, and Michigan have all elected new governors who have run into the buzz-saw of public opinion. It’s not that they’ve suddenly turned into right-wingers once they were elected; if you were watching any of the campaigns last fall, there were plenty of signs here in Florida and elsewhere that if these guys got elected, they were going to try to do some pretty radical things. Or at least they hinted at it; they just didn’t lay out the methods they would use. No one expected Rick Snyder, the governor of Michigan, to demand that he be given the power to take over local governments, fire elected officials, and basically declare financial martial law, but that’s what he’s doing. No one expected the new governors of Wisconsin and Ohio — Scott Walker and John Kasich, respectively — to make the destruction of labor unions their first priority, but that’s what they’re doing.

Here in Florida, no one really thought that the new governor would basically rip the legs out from under the state’s medical support system and then propose to privatize what’s left of it so that medical services company he handed over to his wife can get all the business. If these four governors had to stand for re-election right now, they’d all lose. This isn’t just buyer’s remorse; there are voters of both parties trying invoke the lemon law.

It’s not just the laws and the budgets; it’s the way they went about it. All four of these new governors went out of their way to be confrontational and arrogant, and they were so ham-handed in their tactics that it looked more like a clumsy power-grab in a drug gang than a negotiated political strategy. So far it’s worked about as well as bee-keeping with a baseball bat.