Why Small State Governors Over-perform

by TNR Staff, TNR Staff | October 23, 2007

Rich Lowry passes along something I hadn't heard about Mike Huckabee before, though it makes perfect sense:

With almost no organization, Huckabee lives off his words. In oratorical talent, he's something of a cross between Billy Sunday and Ronald Reagan. He rose to the leadership of the Arkansas State Baptist Convention on his speaking ability. As governor, he didn't have a speechwriter, and there was no such thing as an advanced text. His staff got reporters copies of his state of the state addresses by doing a quick transcription of his off-the-cuff remarks. [emphasis added.]

This made me think it's not such a coincidence that small-state governors--Bill Clinton and Howard Dean, to name a few--end up doing so well in presidential nominating contests, at least relative to what you'd expect based on the states they come from. (You might even throw Jimmy Carter into that mix.) While serving as a large-state governor may be better preparation for actually being president, governing a small state may be better preparation for running for president. Not having a team of speechwriters or a large protective bubble probably conditions you to think through a lot of things on your own, to think quickly on your feet, and it forces you to interact frequently with a lot of random Joes--all things that come in handy on the campaign trail. Huckabee may be benefiting from the same phenomenon.

--Noam Scheiber

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