What are the origins of gubernatorial popularity? Past studies debate whether governors are substantively evaluated based on their performance in office, with some arguing that the origins of approval may be idiosyncratic to particular governors. These studies typically consider gubernatorial approval in a handful of states or patterns of approval in the aggregate. We improve on this research by drawing on a richer data source: the Cooperative Congressional Election Study. We consider both individual-level and state-level explanations of gubernatorial popularity with a sample of over 300,000 respondents across the 50 states from 2006 to 2018. We explore how party, policy outcomes, and government performance shape levels of gubernatorial approval. We show that people evaluate governors based on the ideological direction of policy outcomes in the states. When state policy outcomes align with their ideological preferences, people report higher levels of approval for the job performance of their governor. We also confirm the importance of party and state economic performance for gubernatorial approval.