Governors Have a Big Advantage in Primaries

Nate Silver breaks down the statistics
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 15, 2011 1:58 PM CDT
Then-Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty ,and Mitt Romney are seen in Bloomington, Minn in this April 9, 2010, file photo.   (AP Photo/Craig Lassig, File)

(Newser) – Conventional wisdom states that governors have an advantage over senators in presidential primaries—but Nate Silver decided to run the statistics just to be sure. The result? “The advantage may be even more powerful than you think,” he writes on his FiveThirtyEight blog at the New York Times. Governors don’t just win more often, they routinely outperform their polls at a much higher rate than anyone except sitting presidents and vice presidents.

Governors tend to outperform their early polling by 8 percentage points, compared to 2 points for senators, though this can fluctuate depending on how recently the candidate last held office (long hiatuses aren’t good). “Governors seem to have an intrinsic advantage,” Silver concludes. As for why, he muses that “Congress is an inherently unpopular institution,” and that governors may be giving up more to run—making them more committed and more willing to take risks.

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