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Walker’s popularity dips after announcing PFD cap, polls show

By Liz Raines 7:40 PM September 21, 2016
ANCHORAGE –

A national poll put out Monday by the media and technology company Morning Consult says Gov. Bill Walker’s disapproval rating increased 20 percentage points since May, after he announced he was capping this year’s Permanent Fund Dividend checks at $1,000.

According to the group, Walker dropped from being the second most popular governor in America down to number 16 on that same list.

Local pollster Ivan Moore says he’s seen a similar trend, but cautions that the national survey may not present an accurate snapshot of Alaskan voters.

“The sample in Alaska was probably only about 150, plus or minus eight margin of error,” Moore said in an interview Wednesday.

In a survey last week, Moore said he found Walker’s disapproval rating had increased to about 33 percent, while his approval rating remained relatively steady at 48 percent.

“It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that the negative’s gone up,” Moore said. “There’s going to be upwards of a quarter of the population who just viscerally object to the idea of the permanent fund being touched for a variety of reasons.”

Moore found something else interesting — he says nearly 10 percent of the people he polled statewide didn’t know who Walker was.

“This is like people who are likely to vote in November, 10 precent of them have no idea who he is,” Moore said.

In Fairbanks, Walker’s birth place, 17 percent of those polled said they didn’t recognize his name.

Moore’s survey shows how people feel about Walker, but he didn’t ask why they feel that way. KTVA did its own informal survey downtown.

“Yeah, I’m a big fan Governor Walker,” said Hilkka Bold, an Alaska resident and passerby. “I feel like he’s taken a stand on things that are important, I feel like he’s looking out for the long-term.”

“I feel like he shouldn’t be putting a cap on the PFD because people, you know, we expect that money and need that money,” replied Nathaniel Bowers.

Adam Diedrich said he wasn’t sure what was going on with Walker’s PFD veto.

“Can you correct me just because I haven’t been following that verbatim, which exact change he vetoed to the dividend fund?” Diedrich asked.

“I think he’s done a good job with what he’s been handed,” said Bob Churchill.

When it comes to the permanent fund, Walker is going where no other governor has gone before. While his numbers are down, Moore says there’s another conclusion to be drawn.

“Frankly speaking, I think the person who cares least is Bill Walker,” Moore said.

Another local pollster, Marc Hellenthal said he’d only polled on Walker’s popularity in individual House and Senate districts.

“His numbers have gotten significantly worse in all districts polled,” Hellenthal said in an email Wednesday.

KTVA 11’s Liz Raines can be reached via email or on Facebook and Twitter.

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