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Do People Want To Be Represented By Someone Willing To Work Across The Aisle?

I had a thought the other day about who are the most popular Governors within their state… That thought quickly got cloudy, as the officials I was thinking of don’t get much love nationally from either pundits or their own party (generally speaking).

So, I ran for the numbers…

I found an awesome article from May of 2022 by Nathaniel Rakich of 538, showing the approval rating of each Governor and Senator, along with the partisan lean of each state. While at first blush this may seem like a simple data pull yielding straightforward results, what was fairly unexpected was the theme behind the numbers.

Governor Approval

(Remember, this is data from 2022; some of these folks aren’t or won’t be Governors anymore… but my point still stands.)

Using Morning Consult’s approval rating study, if we were to take the net approval rating (approval rating minus disapproval rating) of all 50 Governors, and sort from highest to lowest net approval rating, we find three Governors outperforming the rest by double-digit margins.

What’s more interesting, each of the top three ranking governors are in the minority party of their state.

Take the state of Maryland as an example: The State Senate has more than twice as many elected Democrats as it does Republicans, same with their House of Delegates. They are represented in the US House by 7 Democrats to only 1 Republican. Both US Senators are Democratic (and have been since 1987). And yet Republican Governor Larry Hogan had a net positive 49-point approval rating according to the polling.

As for Vermont, Cook's PVI shows that Vermont is the most Democratic leaning state in the nation, and it’s governed by a Republican, Phil Scott. The second most Democratic state is Massachusetts, governed by Republican Charlie Baker.

Look around, check these folks’ approval ratings from your most trusted pollster – I’m betting about 70% of their state approves (or approved) of the job they’re doing.

Senator Approval

The Senate numbers don’t line up as cleanly as the Governors; John Thune, a Republican in one of the most Republican states, has a super high approval rating for example. But let’s still look at some of the data to the point of ‘elected officials working across the aisle’.

Joe Manchin is a Democrat in a R+36 state… What’s more crazy, the guy’s got a net positive 22-point approval rating.

On the ‘flip’ side of approval ratings: Mitch McConnell, the highest-ranking Republican in the Senate in charge of getting the party in line, has the lowest net approval rating of any sitting Senator.

And remember, these aren’t ‘nationwide’ numbers; these are numbers from the elected official’s own state among registered voters.

The Point

The national rhetoric toward candidates that work across the aisle isn’t all that great in my opinion. Take Senator Manchin for example: I don’t hear that positive of national news about him. However, in his state, among the people who elected him, he has a net positive 22-point approval rating… And that’s pretty great.

Within the Republican party, Governors Baker or Scott or Hogan are likely called ‘RINOs’ or disciplined by Republican officials outside of the state for not being far enough ‘right’. However, these governors have the highest favorability ratings of any governors in the nation.

Centrist elected officials may catch heat from their own party ‘outside’ of their state for being too moderate, or get lambasted by partisan pundits on national news programs. But these officials don’t represent people or parties outside of their state. Within their state, among their constituents, they are seen as leaders who work across the aisle to get things done. . . Leading me to believe that a whole bunch of folks want elected leaders who are willing to put partisan politics aside and work across the aisle.


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