Whatever happened to local polling?

With fewer local media outlets conducting polls, it’s hard to know what citizens think of the job their governors, such as Arizona’s Doug Ducey (left), are doing. /Flickr/Gage Skidmore

There are fewer organizations gauging how citizens feel about their governors. Political experts say it’s a problem.

While reporting on next year’s governors’ races and writing the gubernatorial chapters for the Almanac of American Politics 2018, I often struggled to find polling data. Whenever I looked for an approval rating for a particular governor, it seemed like I would come up with only one option: the periodic 50-state surveys by Morning Consult, a survey research and media company.

It led me to wonder: Have newspapers and other pollsters cut back on approval-rating polls? I don’t have any hard data to answer that question, but it appears to be the case, judging by the observations of nearly a dozen political experts I spoke with.

“Yes, this is a real and problematic trend,” says Keith Gaddie, a University of Oklahoma political scientist.

“We are seeing this pattern in Texas,” says Mark P. Jones, a political scientist at Rice University. “Texas’ mainstream media outlets have for all intents and purposes ceased doing polls of any type, except maybe one or two during the election year.”

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