Alaska Gov. Bill Walker's honeymoon with voters has come to an abrupt end.
New data collected by pollster Ivan Moore show Walker's popularity taking a sharp dive after he vetoed half of Alaskans' Permanent Fund dividend checks in June — preserving $650 million in savings for the cash-strapped state but enraging a slice of its electorate.
Walker's positive rating dropped from 43 percent to 32 percent in Moore's latest quarterly statewide survey of 660 registered voters, which has a 3.8 percent margin of error.
Walker's negative rating spiked to 35 percent from 23 percent over the same period — between June and September — meaning that more respondents saw the governor in a negative light than in a positive light for the first time since he was elected in 2014.
Since the start of his term, Walker and state lawmakers have been grappling with a multibillion-dollar budget deficit, with sharp budget reductions and Walker's partial PFD veto among their responses.
Walker’s numbers in Moore’s poll track with a popularity decline recorded in a separate survey by media company Morning Consult. That survey said the governor’s approval rating dipped to 50 percent last month from 62 percent earlier this year.
The governor, in a statement sent by spokeswoman Katie Marquette, said he was focused on fixing the state’s budget problem instead of his approval rating.
“Given our state is facing a $3.2 billion deficit and has burned through nearly $13 billion of savings in just three years, now is not the time to be focused on poll numbers,” Walker’s statement said. “Now is the time to be focused on finding a solution to our fiscal challenges so we can bring stability back to Alaska’s economy.”
Walker is in the second year of his first term and his approval rating peaked at 51 percent in the middle of last year in Moore’s survey.
The same statewide poll asked registered voters about their views on the presidential and congressional elections in Alaska, as well as Alaskans’ views on the state fiscal crisis and other issues. Those results will be released starting this weekend in Alaska Dispatch News.