Josh Goodman is a former staff writer for GOVERNING..E-mail: email@example.com
As Dave Freudenthal spent months pondering whether he would try to win a third term as governor of Wyoming, whether he could win was every bit as much of a mystery. For some reason, pollsters don't typically pay much attention to Wyoming. Freudenthal had been reelected with 70% of the vote in 2006, but surely he couldn't have maintained that level of support, right?
After all, governors all over the country have seen their approval numbers slide because of the sour economy. In November 2006, Wyoming's unemployment rate was 3%. Today, it's 7.5%. Plus, Freudenthal is a Democrat in one of the country's most Republican states. This year is looking much more favorable for Republicans than 2006.
Only after Freudenthal announced he wasn't running did finally we get some polling in Wyoming. Rasmussen Reports found that Republicans have solid leads in the race to replace Freudenthal, that President Obama's approval rating in Wyoming is only 31% and that Freudenthal has a 75% approval rating.
My first reaction to Freudenthal's approval rating was that he must be some sort of political savant. But, Democrats actually have reasonably popular governors in a whole bunch of the states where the party is least popular right now: Oklahoma, Tennessee, Kansas, West Virginia and Arkansas.
In meaningful ways, I do think that politics has become more partisan and more ideological over the last 20 years, 10 years and 2 years. But, it's important not to exaggerate the trend. When Massachusetts is voting for Scott Brown and when Wyoming is loving Dave Freudenthal that means that the number of people who are only willing to support members of one party actually is quite small.
By the way, Freudenthal's continuing popularity probably extinguishes what little remaining hope I had for ever having cause to use the headline, "Freudenthal Slips."
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