Friday, July 22, 2011

Republican governors are all crazy extremists

Okay, that's an oversimplification -- but it's not far from the truth. As Nate Silver shows, crunching data, there just aren't any moderate Republican governors anymore:

Unlike for the Democrats, there is almost no ideological diversity within the group: essentially all of the current Republican governors are quite conservative, taking moderate positions on at most one or two issues. Also unlike the Democrats, there is no correlation between the ideology of the governors and the ideology of the states. Whether you have a Republican governor in a fairly liberal state like Maine, a moderate state like Ohio, or a conservative one like Idaho, his agenda is likely to be highly conservative.


This is unusual behavior. Politics 101 would suggest that you need to be at least somewhat responsive to voters in your state. And American political parties in particular are traditionally broad-based coalitions that tolerate a fair amount of intellectual and ideological diversity, especially at the state level. Republicans, of course, are going to try to push policy toward the right and Democrats to the left. But you can go only so far before you get a ticket out of office, so electoral and policy goals remain in some degree of balance.

The new breed of Republican governors run counter to this principle in a way that wasn’t true as recently as a year ago.

The principle no longer really holds for today's Republican Party, which has embraced the far right and seems to be getting more and more extreme all the time, with the extreme now the party's mainstream, a mainstream that, judging by these governors, is deeply unpopular:

So just a year ago, there were plenty of moderate Republican governors — most of them in liberal or moderate states, where they were often quite popular. Now there are almost none...

The unsurprising result is that Republicans now have a group of extremely unpopular governors -- particularly [Rick] Scott of Florida, Scott Walker of Wisconsin, John R. Kasich of Ohio and Paul R. LePage of Maine, all of whom have disapproval ratings exceeding 50 percent. Other Republican governors in crucial swing states like Michigan and Pennsylvania also have below-average ratings.

What does it all mean? Well, we'll have to see. Perhaps voters will reject this extremism, and perhaps defeat will bring state Republicans back to the center.

What is clear, though, is that what is happening at the state level is a reflection of what is happening nationally, namely, the right-wing radicalization of the Republican Party.

And it's only getting worse.

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  • Republicans have overplayed their hand and have aroused the ire of a normally somnolent electorate.

    One hopes this will redound to the President's benefit in 2012 ... lest Marcus Bachmann become First Lady (couldn't resist).

    By Anonymous chris, at 10:01 AM  

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