September 23, 2014

Transplant governors

Having studied the rooted vs. rootless connection that Senators have to the states they represent, let's turn now to governors.

As before, "rooted" means that they graduated from high school in the state that they're in charge of. If we had better data, we could count how many years from, say, age 5 to 20 they spent living in the state, but what you can find online isn't that fine-grained. High school graduation is the most convenient milestone for our purposes.

An appendix below contains the full list of where each governor was living across several milestones -- birth, high school, college, and any advanced degrees they took.

Onto the findings. The following states have transplant governors: Hawaii, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Florida, Maryland, Virginia, New Hampshire, and Vermont.

Transplants account for 11 of our 50 governors. That may appear to be a lower rate than the 29 of 100 Senators, but this difference is not statistically significant. Carpetbagging behavior appears to be independent of which branch of the government the politician pursues their career in.

Rootlessness is independent of party, a result also found among Senators. However, as we saw with Senators, the Republican transplants headed off for states where they would not disrupt the partisan status quo, such as Arizona or North Dakota, whereas the Democrat transplants are part of the ongoing disruption of "swing states" that used to be red but are turning blue, such as Colorado and Virginia. It would be a mistake to blame the politicians themselves: they only represent the will of the voters, a rising share of whom are carpetbaggers themselves, having fled expensive blue states to gentrify red states, where the competition for status is less saturated.

The main regions affected by transplants are rural New England, where a brain drain has left the local hold-outs willing to hire outsiders to preserve their fading regional culture; and the Mountain states, where boomtown growth has brought in truckloads of transplant citizens, and where a long history of frontier rootlessness has left the region vacant of an entrenched elite that aspiring office-holders would have to overcome (if political) or kow-tow to (if economic).

But the worst offenders did not even live in their state's general region for any of their four milestones -- Hickenlooper in Colorado, who is a total East Coaster, and Scott in Florida, who is from the Midwest / southern Plains.

Brewer in Arizona has only a weak connection -- a locally earned technical certificate, not four years of college, after moving from California. Ditto for Abercrombie in Hawaii, who left behind lifelong roots in New York to take an advanced degree locally. McAuliffe in Virginia isn't exactly from around the place either -- born and raised in upstate New York, college and after in DC.

Other transplants are not such flagrant outsiders. O'Malley in Maryland is from just over the border with Northwest DC, Martinez in New Mexico is from just over the Texas border in El Paso, Kasich in Ohio is from just over the border in the Pittsburgh metro area, and Shumlin in Vermont attended prep school just over the border in northern Massachusetts. While not from next-door, some are not from too far away either: Dalrymple in North Dakota is from Minneapolis, and Hassan in New Hampshire is from Boston.

The most resistant region is the Deep South, a pattern we saw in the legislative branch earlier. Their historical memory of the original carpetbaggers during the original Gilded Age has made their immune system more robust this time around.

The following states have governors who were born, raised, and educated entirely locally: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, Missouri, South Carolina, Iowa, Indiana, Kentucky, West Virginia, Kansas, Texas, Idaho, Utah, Michigan, Maine, and New York.

Most of these are part of "flyover country," but as with Senators, competition is so stiff in the power centers of New York and Texas that local roots is one of the few things that can decide a contest among competitors who all have impressive credentials and sociopathic ambition. Illinois (i.e. Chicago) is a tough nut to crack, too: Quinn only left the state for college. Similarly in California, Brown only left the state for his law degree. But the further you go back toward the historical Establishment in New York, you'll need every point for local roots that you can claim, to win over identically impressive credentials.

That's about all the major patterns I see, let us know if you see any others.

Please also chime in if you have advice about how to continue this study for the judicial branch. I figure the state Supreme Court is the place to look, but that makes for 5 to 9 judges per state = too many for a casually interested person. Counting the chief justice alone would make the data manageable, but I'm not sure how meaningful that position is across states. Is it the top of the top, or is it like the chair of a college department that rotates through people who don't want it?

So stay tuned, though it may take awhile before I can analyze what's going on with the rootedness of judges.

Appendix: Rootedness of American Governors, 2014

This table lists where each governor was born, graduated high school, graduated college, and took an advanced degree. The final column marks whether or not they're a transplant -- 1 for yes, blank for no. The table is sorted first by transplant status, and then alphabetically by state.

state governor party birth hs grad uni grad adv grad transplant
AZ Jan Brewer  R CA CA AZ
CO John Hickenlooper  D PA PA CT
FL Rick Scott  R IL MO MO TX 1
HI Neil Abercrombie  D NY NY NY HI 1
MD Martin O'Malley  D DC DC DC MD 1
ND Jack Dalrymple  R MN MN CT
NH Maggie Hassan  D MA MA RI MA 1
NM Susana Martinez  R TX TX TX OK 1
OH John Kasich  R PA PA OH
VA Terry McAuliffe  D NY NY DC DC 1
VT Peter Shumlin  D VT MA CT
AK Sean Parnell  R CA AK WA WA
AL Robert Bentley  R AL AL AL AL
AR Mike Beebe  D AR AR AR AR
CA Jerry Brown  D CA CA CA CT
CT Dannel Malloy  D CT CT MA MA
DE Jack Markell  D DE DE RI IL
GA Nathan Deal  R GA GA GA GA
IA Terry Branstad  R IA IA IA IA
ID Butch Otter  R ID ID ID

IL Pat Quinn  D IL IL DC IL
IN Mike Pence R IN IN IN IN
KS Sam Brownback  R KS KS KS KS
KY Steve Beshear  D KY KY KY

LA Bobby Jindal  R LA LA RI England
MA Deval Patrick  D IL MA MA MA
ME Paul LePage  R ME ME ME ME
MI Rick Snyder  R MI MI MI MI
MN Mark Dayton  D MN MN CT

MO Jay Nixon  D MO MO MO MO
MS Phil Bryant  R MS MS MS MS
MT Steve Bullock  D MT MT CA NY
NC Pat McCrory  R OH NC NC

NE Dave Heineman  R NE NE NY

NJ Chris Christie  R NJ NJ DE NJ
NV Brian Sandoval  R CA NV NV OH
NY Andrew Cuomo  D NY NY NY NY
OK Mary Fallin  R MO OK OK

OR John Kitzhaber  D WA OR NH OR
PA Tom Corbett  R PA PA PA TX
RI Lincoln Chafee  D RI MA RI

SC Nikki Haley  R SC SC SC

SD Dennis Daugaard  R SD SD SD IL
TN Bill Haslam  R TN TN GA

TX Rick Perry  R TX TX TX

UT Gary Herbert  R UT UT

WA Jay Inslee  D WA WA WA OR
WI Scott Walker  R CO WI WI

WV Earl Ray Tomblin  D WV WV WV WV
WY Matt Mead  R WY WY TX WY


  1. Study the number of judges appointed during a period of equality vs. inequality. As you explain, periods of rising inequality have a serious problem with incumbency, so judges appointed during periods of inequality will serve much longer. Therefore, there will be much fewer judges appointed during rising inequality than during rising equality.

  2. doesn't prove that judges are more likely to be transplants, but it would show that inequality effects the Supreme Court

  3. Two comments:

    1) While he doesn't fit your criteria, almost every native would consider Deval Patrick a transplant because he only moved to MA to attend elite schools and his family never lived there.

    2) Although finding the data would be more difficult transplants as state-level legislative leaders would be the best way to measure how open a state is to transplants.


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