Posted by | July 24, 2011 13:26 | Filed under: Top Stories

by Stuart Shapiro

Political scientists talk about the “median voter theorem” to explain why politicians that want to get reelected govern from the center of the electorate.  A bunch of GOP governors elected in 2010 are trying to defy the theorem by pursuing agendas that are extreme by the standards of their states.  Nate Silver explains the result.

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, save some borderline cases like Mr. Daniels and Mr. Herbert.

The unsurprising result is that Republicans now have a group of extremely unpopular governors — particularly Mr. 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.

Nearly all the most unpopular governors are Republicans in moderate states.  The median voter theorem is a powerful thing.  If these governors want to get re-elected in 2014, you will see them pivot sharply toward the center (and hope that voters forget their policies from their first year in office — not an impossible hope).  If they keep governing the way they are, the phrase “former one-term governor” will be seen before their names whenever they get mentioned.

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Copyright 2011 Liberaland
By: Stuart Shapiro

Stuart is a professor and the Director of the Public Policy
program at the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers
University. He teaches economics and cost-benefit analysis and studies
regulation in the United States at both the federal and state levels.
Prior to coming to Rutgers, Stuart worked for five years at the Office
of Management and Budget in Washington under Presidents Clinton and
George W. Bush.