Alan Greenblatt is a GOVERNING correspondent.E-mail: email@example.com
It seems to be easier to maintain high approval in a small state. What's going on? Some theories: in a large state, there will be more ambitious politicians on the other side, eager to knock off the incumbent governor; small states often have part-time legislatures and thus the governor is involved in less political conflict; small states (notably Alaska) tend to get more funds per capita from the federal government, and it's easier to be popular when you can disburse more funds; large states tend to be more heterogeneous and so it's harder to keep all the voters happy. As the graphs show, the pattern isn't perfect, but it looks real to me. Next step is to get data from other years.
P.S. A similar point applies to Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer on the Democratic side. His popularity is impressive but nothing super-special considering he's in a small state.
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