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Jacobson: Polarized opinion in the states

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Jacobson. 2006. Polarized opinion in the states: Partisan differences in approval ratings of governors, senators, a. Prepared for delivery at the annual meeting of the Midwest Political Science Association, Chicago, Illinois, April 20-23.

In Brief

We know that Bush has provoked the widest partisan differences in job approval ever recorded. Jacobson uses SurveyUSA data to explore whether senators and governors have provoked similarly wide partisan differences, and finds that they have not. Senators provoke polarization when they are extreme ideologues, nationally prominent figures, representatives of more populous states, or female. Similarly, governors provoke polarization when they are are from larger states, from states where the partisan balance favors the other party, or when they are national figures.

Main point: "Polarized partisan evaluation of elected leaders is not a systematic feature of contemporary American politics, but rather depends on the positions they take, the agendas they pursue, and the context in which they operate."