Gov. Tina Kotek talks to the Oregon Capital Chronicle in the ceremonial office of the state library in Salem on May 17, 2023. (Photo by Michael Romanos/Oregon Capital Chronicle)

Oregon Gov. Tina Kotek remains the least popular governor in the country, according to a new quarterly poll released Monday by research company Morning Consult.

Only 45% of Oregonians polled approved of Kotek’s performance so far, while 39% disapproved, according to the poll. It’s a slight step up from where she was in the firm’s April survey, when 42% of respondents approved of her, and from the 39% of Oregonians who had a positive impression of Kotek in a March survey from Portland-based DHM Research. 

In the latest Morning Consult poll, Kotek is one of only three governors with an approval rating below 50%. The other two are freshman Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs of Arizona and Republican Gov. Tate Reeves of Mississippi, who has been in office since 2020.

Freshman Republican Govs. Joe Lombardo of Nevada and Jim Pillen of Nebraska, who also fell below 50% in the April survey, have gained in popularity as constituents get to know them better. Lombardo now has a 57% approval rating and 26% disapproval rating, while Pillen rose to a 51% approval rating and 29% disapproval rating. 

Kotek remains an unknown quantity for about 16% of Oregonians surveyed. Her 39% disapproval rating didn’t change between April and July.

Following the March and April surveys, Kotek said it was clear that many Oregonians didn’t yet know her. 

“I’m confident that as we continue to communicate with Oregonians in a variety of ways, they’ll get to know me better and I hope they’ll like what I’m doing,” she said during a press conference on her 100th day in office

She’s more than halfway through her “One Oregon” tour of the state’s 36 counties following trips to Baker, Grant, Harney and Malheur counties last week. Harney County was the 20th stop on her tour, which has included meetings with local elected officials, business leaders and some community members in each county. 

So far, Kotek’s visits have largely involved conversations with small groups about her top priorities: housing and homelessness, education and health care. Unlike U.S. Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden, who hold town halls in each county each year, Kotek hasn’t yet held public forums where uninvited Oregonians can address her directly. 

After her visit to Malheur and Baker counties, Kotek said in a statement that she understood from spending more than six months on the tour how important it was to visit communities and listen. 

“The state can’t solve problems it doesn’t understand,” she said. “But it’s not enough to listen. It’s no secret this part of Oregon hasn’t felt heard. It’s my job to take back the wisdom that I gain here and make adjustments. State government needs to work in every part of Oregon and take the unique needs of every community into account. I’d like to thank Oregonians for being frank and sharing what makes their communities wonderful despite the challenges.”

Oregon Capital Chronicle

Oregon Capital Chronicle is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Oregon Capital Chronicle maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Lynne Terry for questions: Follow Oregon Capital Chronicle on Facebook and Twitter.

Julia Shumway has reported on government and politics in Iowa and Nebraska, spent time at the Bend Bulletin and most recently was a legislative reporter for the Arizona Capitol Times in Phoenix. An award-winning journalist, Julia most recently reported on the tangled efforts to audit the presidential results in Arizona.