The Curse of the Endorsing Governor

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Feb. 21 2012 2:49 PM

The Curse of the Endorsing Governor

Buried in Public Policy Polling's Michigan survey is this question about Gov. Rick Snyder.

Screen shot 2012-02-21 at 1.25.01 PM

Less likely, by better than 2-1! If Romney loses Michigan, he will have kept up one of the primary's weirder, more solid trends: Scoring a gubernatorial endorsement rings the bells of doom. Witness the body count so far.

South Carolina: Romney gets the backing of Gov. Nikki Haley. A month later, he comes a poor second to Newt Gingrich in the primary, the result called a second after the polls close.

Minnesota: On September 12, 2011, Romney is endorsed by former Gov. Tim Pawlenty. Minnesota's caucuses, set for early February, looks like a cakewalk: Romney won them in the 2008 race. But the caucuses arrive, and Romney comes in third place behind Ron Paul.

Colorado: Bill Owens, governor of this state from 1999 to 2007, endorsed Romney in 2008. He endorsed him again this time. The result in 2008: Victory. The result this year: A close loss to Rick Santorum.

Missouri: The last Republican governor of this state was Matt Blunt, son of U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt. Their powers combined for a mid-2011 endorsement of Romney. He got fewer than half as many votes as Santorum in this month's poorly-attended no-delegate primary.

If Romney wins Michigan, it will be the first time he held a state where the current or most recent Republican governor had endorsed them. This is flukey, yes, but there's got to be some residual anti-establishment sentiment behind it.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.