The conservative Yankee Institute’s poll of 500 voters found Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has a 54 percent approval rating — his highest rating yet since the group started polling three years ago.

A year ago Malloy had a 51 percent approval rating, and after his first budget proposal that increased taxes, the group found his approval rating was around 42 percent.

“That’s the good news for the governor,” Fergus Cullen, executive director of the Yankee Institute, said Thursday. “That bad news is that only 42 percent of voters say they would like to re-elect him. Thirty-nine percent said they would probably vote for an unnamed Republican opponent.”

The poll also found that voters oppose the elimination of the car tax for vehicles assessed at less than $20,000 when told it could impact their property taxes. The survey found 52 percent of voters oppose the car tax proposal and 34 percent support it, while 14 percent remain undecided.

Fifty-four percent of voters also said that the $44 million, two-year state budget spends too much money and 68 percent opposed borrowing money and delaying payment of the 2009 Economic Recovery Notes. However, 44 percent approved of extending the electric generation tax and insurance premium tax set to expire later this year. About 39 percent of voters opposed extending those temporary taxes.

Voters also opposed Malloy’s “First Five” or “Next Five” program which give assistance to companies who promise to stay in the state and create more than 200 jobs. Fifty-six percent of voters believe it’s a waste of taxpayer money, while 27 percent believe it’s a good use of taxpayer money.

Click here for more information about the poll.