Posted: Oct. 15, 2007

Delaware could be doing better, according to the most recent survey results from the PublicMind poll from Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey.

The poll found that 47 percent of Delaware voters believe the state is headed in the right direction, while 39 percent say the state is on the wrong track. This is a drop from a sampling in February, when 54 percent thought the state was headed in the right direction.

In parallel fashion, Gov. Ruth Ann Minner's approval rating has declined. The voters split evenly with 42 percent approving of the way the Democratic executive is handling her job in her second term and 42 percent disapproving. Eight months ago, her approval rating was 51 percent, with her decline most pronounced among Republicans and men.

The poll was conducted from Oct. 3 to Oct. 9 in telephone interviews with 700 registered voters who were selected randomly.

Other elected statewide officials are not suffering in their public image. Republican Congressman Mike Castle has a 63 percent favorable opinion to 14 percent unfavorable. Democratic Sen. Tom Carper has a 60 percent favorable opinion to 16 percent unfavorable. Democratic Attorney General Beau Biden comes in at 40 percent favorable to 18 percent unfavorable.

Among the possible candidates to succeed the governor, Democratic Lt. Gov. John Carney leads in name recognition with 70 percent. His favorable-unfavorable rating is 31 percent to 12 percent, and he has room to grow with 28 percent saying they have no opinion of him and 30 percent saying they have not heard of him.

Democratic Treasurer Jack Markell is recognized by about half of the voters at 49 percent. His favorable/unfavorable rating is 25 percent to 5 percent.

Voters are less familiar with the Republicans who are mentioned for governor. A majority of voters at 59 percent do not recognize Alan Levin, a businessman who ran Happy Harry's drugstores, and another 23 percent have no opinion of him. A majority of voters at 57 percent do not recognize Mike Protack, an airline pilot, and another 23 percent have no opinion of him.

"Name recognition is the same as gold in electoral politics," said Peter J. Woolley, a professor of political science at Fairleigh Dickinson University and the director of the poll.

"Those who start with the best name recognition generally will garner other campaign advantages. But on the bright side for those who are less well known, the opportunity to define themselves still lies ahead."