More South Dakota registered voters disapprove than approve of the job Gov. Kristi Noem is doing, according to new poll results.
Morning Consult, a nationwide survey research company, asked registered voters across the country from October to December about their approval or disapproval of their governor.
In South Dakota, 43 percent said they approve of the job Noem is doing. Forty-five percent said they disapprove. That ranks Noem, a Republican, as the sixth-least popular governor in America, according to Morning Consult.
Noem’s spokeswoman responded with a written statement.
“The 2016 election showed us the soundness of D.C. pollsters,” the statement said. “With just a year under her belt, Governor Noem has accomplished a lot on behalf of hardworking South Dakotans. As she outlined in her State of the State address, she is looking forward to building on that success in 2020.”
The comment about the “soundness of D.C. pollsters” is a sarcastic take on polls that showed Hillary Clinton leading Donald Trump.
Morning Consult acknowledges a 3 percentage-point margin of error in its polling on Noem. But the company also does polling on U.S. senators, and that polling has consistently ranked Sen. John Thune of South Dakota as one of the nation’s 10 most popular senators.
Noem’s performance in the new poll is the worst she’s had in Morning Consult surveys dating to the first quarter of 2019. Her approval ratings in successive surveys since then were 49, 49, 48 and the current 43 percent; and her disapproval ratings were 32, 40, 41 and the current 45 percent.
Jon Schaff, a political science professor at Northern State University in Aberdeen, blames Noem’s low approval rating on “unforced errors.” He said those errors include her widely mocked “We’re On It” advertising campaign to raise awareness about methamphetamine use; her veto of a hemp legalization bill that many lawmakers in her own party supported; and a raise she gave to her daughter, who is on the governor’s staff.
Schaff said those and other problems have prevented Noem from consolidating support among Republicans, who were split between her and her opponent, Marty Jackley, in the 2018 primary election.
But Schaff said Noem is capable of a turnaround. He referenced her past service in Congress and said she had an early stumble as a U.S. representative when she failed to get appointed to the Agriculture Committee. Schaff said Noem learned from that misstep and could take similar lessons from her first year as governor.
“I think that Kristi Noem is a very talented politician,” Schaff said.