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New poll shows big drop in Pence approval after RFRA

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Indiana Gov. Mike Pence’s job approval numbers are in the tank. The number of people who disapprove of his performance in office outnumber those who approve according to a new poll.

Howey Politics Indiana commissioned the poll. It was conducted by a Republican pollster, Christine Matthews, and the results are eye-catching.

The governor’s job approval rating is just 45 percent in the poll from Bellwether Research. 46 percent disapprove.

It’s a big drop from six months ago when the WISH-TV Ball State Hoosier Survey showed the governor’s approval rating at 62 percent.

Pollster Christine Matthews says it’s all about the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

“They don’t think it should have happened in the first place,” she said, “and a majority think it’s going to have a negative impact on Indiana’s economy.”

In fact, 59 percent said that RFRA wasn’t needed.

The governor dodged the issue at a pre-kindergarten announcement Thursday.

“We’ll let politics take care of itself in the future,” he said, “but for now my focus is jobs and schools and seeing those bright and shining faces here.”

Meanwhile the poll finds that 54 percent of Indiana voters support civil rights protections for gays and lesbians.

Senate GOP Leader David Long thinks the damage is short term.

“I’m pretty confident long term we’ll put that behind us,” he said. “It’s just an unfortunate circumstance that occurred.”

But the poll finds that 50 percent expect that the Indiana economy will suffer long term effects and it has affected the governor’s favorability rating, too.

“People aren’t giving him the benefit of the doubt in terms of ‘I like you but you screwed up,’” said Matthews. “It’s sort of like, ‘I’m not sure if I like you and you also screwed up.’”

Despite all that the poll shows Pence leading in matchups against Democrats if the 2016 election was held now. The closest challenger for governor in this poll comes from Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz who is just 3 points behind Pence, within the 4 point margin of error.

And that’s despite the fact that Ritz’s approval rating is lower than Pence’s.