Study shows that governors don’t affect how their states vote in presidential race

Two years ago, Eric Ostermeier at the Smart Politics blog– challenged what he called a “media myth” that the loss of Democratic governorships in 2010 would hurt Obama’s reelection bid.

On Monday, he noted that he was right in a post called: “Governors Have No Pull Helping Presidential Nominees Carry Their State.”

Writes Ostermeier:

“…while the Republican gubernatorial (and state legislative) success stories during the 2010 election cycle may have enabled the GOP to craft more favorable district lines for 2012 legislative races, the impact on which presidential nominee carried these swing states was, once again, non-existent.

“Obama did not lose any of the battleground states in which Democrats fell flat in gubernatorial races two years ago.

“In fact, almost all of the closest races in the country saw a presidential nominee carry a state with a governor in office from the opposite party — including all seven key GOP gubernatorial pickups in 2010.”

Other highlights:

  • Of the 16 states decided by single digits in 2012, 11 voted for the presidential nominee of a party other than its sitting governor, including each of the five states with the narrowest margin of victory.
  • Overall, across the 600 statewide presidential contests conducted during the 12 election cycles since 1968, states have now voted for a presidential candidate from a different political party than its reigning governor 301 times, or 50.2 percent.

Ostermeier is a research associate at the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance (CSPG) at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs.

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