My quick take on the governor's numbers is that they won't get much better until Bernie Giusto's name stops appearing in the papers (Kulongoski also had the strongest unfavorable ratings). The Legislature would probably have better approvals if Oregon voters hadn't just spent the special election season feeling like they were cleaning up the Lege's mess on land use and children's health care. Your mileage on those two may vary.
The rest of the Oregonian's article collects theories to explain the gloomy numbers. There's a fair amount of High Broderism (i.e., the problem is that Democrats and Republicans can't get along, so the blame must be shared equally) to be found. There's also more about the Senate race.
Pollster Adam Davis goes the Broder "pox on both your houses" route:
The poll shows that public frustration with political leaders remains as intense as ever, said Adam Davis, of Davis, Hibbitts & Midghall, the Portland firm that did the survey. That frustration, combined with everyday worries about health care and household finances, has fueled increasing cynicism about government, he said.
"It's just a bad time to be associated with government and politics," Davis said.
That bit of Beltway High Broderism turns up, predictably, from the Smith camp:
A Smith spokesman, R.C. Hammond, said the relatively low approval ratings for Smith and Wyden reflect overall dissatisfaction with Washington, D.C., politics.
"There's bitter partisanship in Congress right now and the public is showing its disgust," Hammond said.
(Wyden's office didn't comment for the story.) "Bitter partisanship in Congress?" Is that what we're calling Republican filibustering these days?
Other items from the O's article:
Is it me, or does it sound like Merkley's press spokesman got badly paraphrased here?
"It sort of follows the trend we've seen in other polls," said Russ Kelley, spokesman for Jeff Merkley, the Democratic House speaker who hopes to unseat Smith. Kelley attributed the low numbers to Smith's sudden shift from outspoken supporter of the Iraq war to critic.
Smith continues to support extending the Iraq occupation; he's not a "critic" of the war and (other than that one post-election outburst over a year ago) there's been no "sudden shift." Kelley surely knows that--wonder what he actually said? As it's reported, it doesn't make much sense.
And over at Novick HQ, they take a different tack:
Jake Weigler, campaign manager for another Democratic Senate hopeful, Steve Novick, said public frustration with Congress has made Smith vulnerable. But it also could work against Merkley, Weigler said. "The public is down on elected officials in general right now and is looking to outsiders to make real changes."
"Frustration with Congress makes Smith vulnerable" is unarguable enough, But trying to catch Merkley on the rebound with the same shot seems like a stretch. Of course Weigler's job is to get primary traction against Merkley where it's to be found, and if he can do it with the insider-outsider meme, more power to him. But the problem with Congress right now isn't that incumbents aren't doing anything; it's that Republicans--like Smith--are preventing anything from happening.
And mcjoan adds this over on the front page front page at DailyKOS"
[T]he biggest drawback right now for Smith's Democratic challengers in this race is his 38 percent approval rating among Democrats, a testament to the importance of Iraq as an eduring issue. Smith's break with Bush on Iraq so far seems to be trumping other issues for at least a portion of Oregon's Dems, despite the fact that he has voted with Bush 90 percent of the time. Another issue that could be buoying Smith's numbers with Dems is his close working relationship with Wyden. While that cooperation has been helpful for the state, having two Senators in the majority would be much more advantageous. Wyden is going to have to distance himself from Smith in the coming months to cut into that Dem support.
Emphasis added, but scarcely needed.
(Cross posted at Loaded Orygun.)