Governor Chris Gregoire begins her last year in office with public evaluation of her job performance where it has been throughout her second term: underwater. Her overall job performance ratings re‐ mained relatively unchanged over the course of 2011. There was a slight contraction of both her posi‐ tive and negative ratings at mid‐year, but she finished 2011 with almost exactly the same rating she started with: 37% “excellent” or “good” and 60% “only fair” or “poor.”
Democrats picked up the slack—62 percent rated her “excellent” (15 percent) or “good” (47 percent)—while Republicans and Independents dragged her score into the cellar. Among Independents, 69 percent don't like the job she's doing—26 percent gave her “only fair” while 42 percent said she was doiong a “poor” job.
The metaphor of Gregoire's static (negative) poll numbers remind me of this graph that ran on the New York Times homepage last week.
Facing such bad numbers and an iffy-at-best economy, Gregoire is certainly angst ridden about her legacy. In PubliCola's Q&A with Gregoire in December, we asked her about her legacy.
It’s kind of hard to remember what my goals were. They’ve been washed away by a tsunami. My focus was, how do we get prepared for the 21st century? We’re an amazingly international state. We’re really not like anybody else. When you look at our ports and our exports and what we do, if you look at the people in the state, we are very diverse. We have the headquarters of so many international companies. Our export is growing like crazy.
All of that means we have to up it and ready ourselves. We can’t afford to have 30 percent of our kids-plus graduate from high school and not be able to get a job or go to college because they need to take a remedial course that they’re going to drop out of. We can’t afford to do that anymore. We need to look at advanced manufacturing and understand—there is the future. It isn’t the manufacturing of yesterday. It’s a new form of advanced manufacturing. Are we doing the research, are we doing the training, are we doing the education?
All those things are now in a crisis. I had set out at the beginning of my term to try and do it thoughtfully and just work our way in. And put more investment in, candidly. It’s going to take more investment, rather than cutting it, which is what we’re going now. It takes more money than we had at the beginning of my term.
So, I’ve really completely changed where I am in my head. I’m not going to leave the legacy that I had hoped. I guess the legacy I hope I’ll leave now is that to my successor will inherit a state that has prepared itself to come out of the recession positioned well for our people to succeed and our state to succeed.
On Wednesday, Gregoire came out for gay marriage legislation, which many believe she did with an eye toward her legacy.