Indiana Gov. Mike Pence's Approval Rating Plummets In Wake Of Religious Rights Law Scandal

| by Sasha Melendez-Goldman

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence continues to receive backlash from his decision to sign the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, also known as RFRA.  According to a recent poll conducted by Bellwether Research, Pence’s approval rating in Indiana has dramatically declined in the weeks since he enacted the RFRA.

The signing of this act put both Indiana and Governor Pence in the media spotlight, arousing vocal protests from LGBT communities and supporters. Caving to national pressure, Pence altered the broad language of the bill to explicitly protect sexual identity and sexual orientation from religious discrimination.    

The negative impact of the bill has hit Pence in state popularity and favorability. Pence, once viewed as a potential presidential nominee, saw his approval rating fall from 62% in February to a current 45%.  A survey decline that an “Indiana governor has never experienced” in such a short time, reports Brian Howey, publisher of Howey Politics Indiana. His unfavorable rating -- 38% -- is now higher than his favorable rating of 35%.

Other poll questions administered to the Indiana public have shed some light on the popularity drop. The poll found that 50% of respondents feel that the controversy surrounding the RFRA will negatively affect the economy while 59% believe that the bill is unnecessary. The Human Rights Campaign released a poll finding that 53% of respondents say that the bill has made them feel unfavorable toward the Governor, the Huffington Post reports.

Indiana has hired a public relations firm to help repair the state’s image in response to the media firestorm.  The division of support for RFRA is an indication that the governor took a major risk in pursuing this bill; unfortunately, it has not paid off. It now looks as though Pence will face an uphill battle (steeper than expected) for re-election as Indiana's governor come 2016.

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Photo Credit: Mark Taylor, Flickr Creative Commons