Sorry for the long hiatus. I recently moved apartments and lost home Internet for a while, but, thankfully, that's been resolved... So I'm back to posting again...
Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) recently accepted his party's nomination to carry the GOP banner in the governor's race this fall. What really made waves, though, was his efforts to whip up the Republican base. Here's the St. Paul Pioneer Press' take:
Pawlenty, the restrained statesman during the recently completed legislative session, showed his fierce partisan side in a speech that fired up what had been a relatively lackadaisical gathering.
"I can tell you what your worst nightmare is," he told the 1,072 delegates. "It's one of the big-spendin', tax-raisin', abortion-promotin', gay marriage-embracin', more welfare without accountability-lovin', school reform-resistin', illegal immigration-supportin' DFL candidates for governor who thinks Hillary Clinton should be president."
Definitely some red meat for the party faithful. But the comment also reminded me of a study (see page 24 of the PDF) by political scientist Gary Jacobson at the University of California, San Diego showing that Pawlenty is the most polarizing governor in the country. Jacobson defined polarizing as having the widest disparity of approval ratings between Dems and Republicans, based on Survey USA data.
Following Pawlenty was Washington State's Gov. Christine Gregoire (D), who earned her post after a protracted recount struggle in 2004. Then came Florida's Jeb Bush (R), brother of the president; Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) of California, who has played nice with Dems this spring after stirring up a hornet's nest by attacking key Democrat constituencies with ballot initiatives in November; Mitt Romney (R) of Massachusetts, who's distanced himself from the blue state legacy of the Bay State while exploring a possible 2008 presidential run; and Missouri's Matt Blunt (R), son of U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt, and a frequent target of criticism for cutting back the state's Medicaid benefits.
And the least polarizing? That'd be Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen (D), who's the only governor to enjoy MORE support among the opposing party than his own. Bredesen, as you may know, has, like Blunt, taken lots of heat for cuts to the state's Medicaid program (called TennCare). Over nine months, Bredesen averaged 48.9 percent approval from Dems compared to 56.6 percent from Republicans.
Following Bredesen are a bunch of govs with high overall approval ratings: Dave Freudenthal (D) of Wyoming, Kenny Guinn (R) of Nevada, Joe Manchin (D) of West Virginia and Jodi Rell (R) of Connecticut.