Just 28 percent of Nevada voters have a favorable view of Gov. Jim Gibbons, according to a Review-Journal poll.
Thirty-eight percent of 625 regular voters surveyed have an unfavorable view of the new governor, while 33 percent are neutral and 1 percent don't recognize his name.
Just 1 percent believe Gibbons is doing an excellent job as governor. Twenty-one percent think his performance is "pretty good," 35 percent "only fair," 30 percent say his performance is poor, and 13 percent are undecided.
Gibbons' 28 percent favorability rating in the poll is the same as Vice President Dick Cheney's, although Cheney's unfavorable number was substantially higher, 53 percent. Gibbons' favorability rating is 8 points lower than that of President Bush.
"These are very weak numbers for someone who just got elected," said Brad Coker, managing partner of Mason-Dixon Polling & Research Inc., the national firm that conducted the poll. "Obviously, the scandals are affecting him in a big way. It's striking how much ground he's lost just since Election Day."
Gibbons was elected in November with 48 percent of the statewide vote. A Review-Journal poll a week before the election had 41 percent of respondents viewing Gibbons favorably, 35 percent unfavorably.
The poll was conducted Monday and Tuesday and carries a margin of error of 4 percentage points in either direction.
A spokeswoman for Gibbons said the governor wasn't too worried about his lack of support.
"Governor Gibbons will not govern by polls but by the interests of the people of the state," Melissa Subbotin said. "He outlined his agenda in his State of the State address, and he's confident Nevadans will see that he's upheld his commitments to hold the line on taxes, improve the state's education system and keep our streets and communities safe from dangerous sex offenders."
The new numbers are consistent with other recent polls. A survey in March by a Pennsylvania-based pollster put Gibbons' approval at 29 percent, and one commissioned last month by the Reno Gazette-Journal had him at 30 percent.
The consistency among the three polls shows Gibbons' poor numbers are firm and stagnant, with the governor unable to turn the political dialogue away from his many problems, Coker said.
"This is not policy-driven," Coker said. "This is all about what you think of Jim Gibbons personally."
Gibbons might be able to take a little bit of solace in the fact that the Reno paper's poll had his disapproval at 47 percent, with 23 percent neutral, said University of Nevada, Reno, political scientist Eric Herzik. That might be a sign that some voters' negativity is turning to mere indifference.
But on the whole, he said, "This is not good news for Jim Gibbons. It's a very low rating."
The overarching concern for Gibbons is the FBI's ongoing investigation based on questions about his relationships with defense contractors. That, Herzik said, hangs a cloud of doubt over the governor's head that he can't shake.
But Gibbons also "clearly has hurt himself with multiple administrative and political gaffes," Herzik said, starting with his surprise swearing-in at midnight on Jan. 1.
Since then, he hasn't appeared to have a good handle on the state's budget, hasn't put forth a clear agenda and hasn't communicated well with the Legislature, Herzik said. And then there has been the occasional "self-inflicted wound," such as appearing to lend credence to a conspiratorial rumor that Democrats were paying the Wall Street Journal to write articles about him.
"He hasn't been effective," Herzik said.
Gibbons has had the worst start to his term of any new governor in America, said Larry Sabato, director of the Institute for Politics at the University of Virginia.
"The only thing he can be grateful for is that the next election is four years away," Sabato said. "It's too early to say that he's a one-termer. But if the election were this year, he'd be a goner."