The Demographics of America’s Governors: Age


This post will look at the demographics of America’s governors by age, as of February 2012. All in all, this series on the demographics of America’s governors examines:

  • Age


(Note: I strongly encourage you to click the image links on this post when reading; they're essential to understanding what I'm saying.)

America’s governors generally have a pretty wide range in age. The youngest governor, Nikki Haley of South Carolina, was less than forty years old when elected. The oldest, Jerry Brown of California, was actually governor of California decades before many Americans were born.

Here's a more detailed look.

This is a truly random map. There’s essentially no relationship that one can see between the age of a state’s governor and, well, anything. States with young governors, like Nevada or South Carolina, are located right next to states with old governors, such as California or Georgia.

Let’s try to add political party to this analysis.

First, we'll take a look at the age of Democratic governors:

Naturally the Democratic Party governs fewer states after its losses in the 2010 midterm election. Interestingly, it seems that Democrats still hold a lot of the “Clinton belt” – the Appalachian region which went strongly for Bill Clinton and has since then turned decisively Republican on a presidential level.

Now let's look at Republicans.

It does seem that Republican governors are, in general, a younger bunch. There are several possible reasons behind this. Firstly, it should be expected for Republican governors to be younger given that they won most of the most recent midterm elections. Secondly, it could be just mere chance: given enough elections, eventually you’ll get one in which one party’s governors are younger than the other party’s. Finally, there’s the possibility that something about the Republican Party and American politics tends to make Republican governors younger.

All in all, there’s not that much to see here. Unlike other demographic dividers, age does not arouse great passions. This is because everybody has the opportunity to reach the age most American governors tend to be. I didn’t expect to find anything extremely interesting when writing this post, and I didn’t find anything. Which is not a big problem; not everything provides a piercing insight into the current state of politics.



Looking at Romney’s Voting Coalition

The primaries in Iowa and New Hampshire have recently concluded, with Mitt Romney winning both. It’s quite probable now that Romney will be the person facing Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential election.

Both Iowa and New Hampshire have provided detailed exit polls of the Republican electorate. These paint a good picture of the coalition that Romney is assembling.

Of course, exit polls are notoriously unreliable. If exit polls were trustworthy, President John Kerry would just be completing his second term right now. Any exit poll thus ought to be taken with an enormous grain of salt.

Nevertheless, there are some patterns that are appearing pretty consistently in the exit polls of the Republican primaries. These are large enough to be of some note.


  • Romney’s support increases steadily as a voter’s age increases.

  • Similarly, support for Romney increases steadily as income increases.

  • Very conservative voters are not fans of Romney.

  • Neither are born-again Christians. Which is not to say that their support is nonexistent; plenty of born-again Christians are still voting for Romney.

  • Those with college degrees appear slightly more disposed to voting for Romney.

  • Similarly, so are Catholics.
  • There is one final pattern which the exit polls don’t show, but which also appears consistently in the results: rural voters do not like Romney. He has done the worst in the rural parts of Iowa and New Hampshire. It will be of interest to note whether this pattern prevails in South Carolina.

    Not all of these patterns occurred in the last 2008 Republican primaries. During 2008, for instance, very conservative voters gradually became the strongest supporters of Romney. In fact, while there are great similarities between the voters Romney is winning now and those he won in 2004, there are also substantial differences. These are fascinating enough to be the subject of another, much more detailed, post.

    Nor should one expect all these patterns to hold throughout the primary season. This is particularly true with respect to religion. In 2008 Catholics were more likely than Protestants to vote for Romney in Iowa and New Hampshire. In later states such as California and Florida, however, Protestants were more favorable to Romney than Catholics (this was true even counting only white Catholics and white Protestants). Why this is so is somewhat of a mystery.

    There is one very important consideration which has not appeared yet: race. So far, the voters in the 2012 Republican primary have been overwhelmingly white. Asians and blacks do not vote in Republican primaries in numbers large enough to be counted by exit polls. Hispanics, however, do. In 2008 Romney won 14% of the Hispanic vote in Florida, compared to the 31% he took statewide; he failed to break single digits amongst Cubans. It will be very revealing to see whether Romney can do better than that this year.

    Implications for the General Election

    Romney appears to do best in the more traditional wing of the Republican Party. His support is concentrated amongst the wealthier, more urbane voters in the party – the part of the party that is commonly represented by the sophisticated businessman. This, I know, will come as a shock to everybody who has been following politics these past few years.

    During the general election, Romney will probably do well in places filled with people of the above description. These include areas such as suburban Philadelphia and the northern exurbs of Atlanta. He may struggle to raise much excitement amongst the rural evangelical crowd, the red-hot conservatives who in bygone days voted loyally Democratic. Unfortunately for the president, these voters probably loathe Obama more than any other segment of the electorate.

    Probably most useful for a political analyst is the fact that Romney’s support increases in proportion to a voter’s wealth, age, and closeness to a major urban center. These are things about Romney’s coalition which political analysts haven’t known about before (especially the facts about voter income and age).

    It will be interesting to see if Romney’s coalition remains the same throughout the next few primaries, or whether it changes. Indeed, Romney’s coalition is actually somewhat different from the one he assembled in the 2008 Republican primaries. The next few posts will compare the exit polls from those primaries and those from the current primaries.

    They will examine:




    Just How Confused IS John McCain?

    McCain is not only confused about how many homes he owns, he is also confused about foreign affairs --Supposedly his Strong Point!  

    John McCain, "a Republican presidential candidate who, despite the hype, doesn't seem to know much about foreign affairs. McCain recently talked at length about problems on the "Iraq/Pakistan border" - the countries are a thousand miles apart. Asked how to deal with Darfur, he mused about "bringing pressure on the government of Somalia". Uh - it's Sudan, Senator McCain. And he keeps expressing his desire to build up US relations with Czechoslovakia, a country that hasn't existed for 15 years. " Unfortunately, we are not getting this pertinent information about a candidate for the Presidency, the highest office in the land, from our Republican-owned media, which is a derelict of their duty. mentators/johann-hari/johann-hari-john-m ccain-and-his-secretive-plot-to-kill-the -un-903998.html

    And, also "If someone can't keep track of their personal finances -- for example, can't even say how many homes they own -- should they really be in charge of our whole nation's finances?" (Gordon Fischer)

    However, this is more than McCain just being out of touch.  This is about competency, because McCain has made many misstatements and gaffes which are not reported by the media, which would show and also highlight just not McCain's Confusion but also his Age!

    There's more...

    The Politico Links McCain's Gaffes And His Age

    Over the course of the primary battle, the Obama campaign effectively injected a somewhat subtle meme about Hillary Clinton into the ether, namely that she'll do or say anything to win (which had the benefit of being a pre-existing meme to begin with.) Whether it was a post-Nevada campaign memo accusing the Clinton team of dirty tricks or a pre-California "truth squad" ready to pre-but what were sure to be the Clintons' many forthcoming lies, the Obama campaign never came out and accused Hillary Clinton of being a liar, but instead just hinted at it until her own actions seemed to reinforce the meme and the media picked it up as their own. It was pretty masterful, actually, considering many people to this day still insist that Obama never attacked Hillary Clinton.

    As I've written before, team Obama seems to be weaving the same magic with McCain with their "confused" meme. Every time McCain makes a gaffe they say he's "confused," the subtle implication being that "he's too old to be president." John McCain has cooperated wonderfully in reinforcing the meme, not only with his recent insistence that Iraq and Pakistan share a border, but also that Czechoslovakia is still a country. He did it again and this time gave an uncomfortable mea culpa.

    But while McCain has played his age for humor, the media has largely considered connecting McCain's gaffes and his age taboo. The sheer volume and frequency of McCain's errors may have rendered that deference obsolete.

    Cue The Politico, which in a piece today finally addresses the elephant in the room, as it were, vis a vis McCain's numerous confusions.

    Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said "Iraq" on Monday when he apparently meant "Afghanistan", adding to a string of mixed-up word choices that is giving ammunition to the opposition.

    Just in the past three weeks, McCain has also mistaken "Somalia" for "Sudan," and even football's Green Bay Packers for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

    Ironically, the errors have been concentrated in what should be his area of expertise: foreign affairs.

    And then Mike Allen and Jim Vandehai go there:

    McCain will turn 72 the day after Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) accepts his party's nomination for president at the age of 47, calling new attention to the sensitive issue of McCain's advanced age three days before the start of his own convention. [...]

    McCain's mistakes raise a serious, if uncomfortable question: Are the gaffes the result of his age? And what could that mean in the Oval Office?

    As someone who is less than squeamish about using McCain's age against him, I'm glad to see this getting some play in the media.

    There's more...

    WaPost Polls McCain, Obama & Color-Arousal

    John Cohen and Jennifer Agiesta have a thought provoking article in today's Washington Post on the basis of a study of relations between color-groups and persons in the United States, with particular respect to questions about Senators Barack Obama and John McCain's candidacies:

    As Sen. Barack Obama opens his campaign as the first African American on a major party presidential ticket, nearly half of all Americans say race relations in the country are in bad shape and three in 10 acknowledge feelings of racial prejudice, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

    Lingering racial bias affects the public's assessments of the Democrat from Illinois, but offsetting advantages and Sen. John McCain's age could be bigger factors in determining the next occupant of the White House.

    ( . . . )

    there is an overwhelming public openness to the idea of electing an African American to the presidency. In a Post-ABC News poll last month, nearly nine in 10 whites said they would be comfortable with a black president. While fewer whites, about two-thirds, said they would be "entirely comfortable" with it, that was more than double the percentage of all adults who said they would be so at ease with someone entering office for the first time at age 72, which McCain (R-Ariz.) would do should he prevail in November.  WaPost

    It's worth reading the whole poll, since the answers respondents gave are broken out in a very detailed way. For example, I think the race between Obama and McCain is, at best, tied at this point, because of the following:

    There's more...


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