For Republicans, There Are No Favorite Sons or Daughters Except for One ……Gary Johnson

Bookmark and Share  Public Policy Polling, a left leaning outfit, has put out some interesting results from a survey of how well the Republican presidential contenders are liked by the voters in their own states. The surprising winner here is former two term, New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson. The losers ………3 term Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and former 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin.

If one intends to run for national office, it is often taken for granted that the state they come from, supports them. In 1980, President Jimmy Carter only won 6 states and the District of Columbia. Fortunately for him, two of those states were his home state of Georgia and his Vice President’s home state of Minnesota. In 1984, Carter’s Vice President, Walter Mondale, was the Democrat presidential nominee and aside from the District of Columbia, the only state that he carried was Minnesota ….…..his home state.

But such favorite son or daughter results are not always the case.

In 1972, Democrat South Dakota Senator George McGovern won his Party’s presidential nomination, but in the presidential election, McGovern’s state of South Dakota voted for Richard Nixon.

And look at Al Gore in 2000.

The man had once represented Tennessee in the U. S. Senate and that same seat was once held by his own father. Yet in the infamous 2000 presidential election, Tennessee voted for George W. Bush. Had Gore been able to win his own state, the result in Florida, the state that was governed by G.W.’s brother at the time, would not have mattered.

So being the favorite son or daughter of your state is not just a good thing, sometimes it is a must.

Yet the PPP survey shows that only one candidate has a higher favorability rating than unfavorable rating. That is the understated, underdog of the 2012 presidential field ….. Gary Johnson. And not only is he the only one with a higher favorable to unfavorable rating, his favorability numbers are dramatically higher than his unfavorable numbers. Twelve percentage points higher to be exact. As seen in the graph from PPP below, 32% of New Mexico voters have an unfavorable opinion of their former Governor and 44% have a favorable opinion of him. Compare this to Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachman who’s unfavorable number among Minnesota voters is 26% higher than her favorable numbers, 33% favorable 59% unfavorable, and Sarah Palin who among Alaska voters stands at 33% favorable to 58% unfavorable.

What accounts for Bachmann’s bad numbers in her state is the fact that she is a national conservative voice from a relatively conservative district in an otherwise liberal state. What accounts for Palin’s bad numbers in Alaska is not quite as obvious. But much of it could be due to the fact that Alaskan’s who once gave Palin favorable ratings that were the highest of any Governor in nation, were very disappointed and angered by her decision to resign midway through her term in office. Another factor is overexposure and the disruption of  life in the state that came with Palin’s sudden rise to national and international fame. On the flip-side, part of the reason for Gary Johnson’s still high positive numbers from New Mexico voters, may come from his lack of attention.

Johnson is a rather mild mannered, understated man. He was elected Governor as an outsider with no prior political experience, did a good job with no scandals or media circus scrutinizing his every move, and went on to win a second term that went much the same way. Since leaving office, unlike Palin, Johnson, stayed out of the fray avoided controversy and allowed his last impression among New Mexico voters to be a lasting impression. Those are some reasons that account for why he still is more liked than disliked.

Unfortunately, while these numbers show that Johnson could probably do well in his state’s Republican presidential primary, it does not look like Johnson will do that well elsewhere. It’s a shame too. With New Mexico being a swing state, it could be critical to reaching the magical number needed to reach the electoral vote required to win the presidency . Of course nothing is to say that President Obama has a much higher approval rating than any of those mentioned in most of these states. Still, it would be encouraging to know that you could count on your own state. The only potential Republican nominees that we should legitimately expect to lose their own state in the general election would be Mitt Romney in the case of liberal Massachusetts, and if he really was delusional enough to run again, Rudy Giuliani in adark blue New York state.

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