Could Republican Governors Help Obama Win?

It is commonly argued in the media that a presidential candidate will be helped in a state by having a governor of the same party in office. However, there is little research to support this claim. We show that a presidential candidate is not helped, but in fact hurt, by having a governor from the same party. On average, winning the governor’s election leads to a 2-3 percentage point reduction in a state’s presidential vote share in the following election…we also show that voters punish the presidential party when voting for governor in midterm years. One possible explanation is a variation of the ideological balancing argument, whereby voters’ choices for one office are conditional on which party holds office at a different level.

From a new paper by Robert Erikson, Olle Folke, and James Snyder.

[Cross-posted at The Monkey Cage]

John Sides

John Sides is an associate professor of political science at George Washington University.