Yesterday I was on the radio in Wilmington wrapping up our Delaware poll and the host asked me, 'so as a pollster who does surveys around the country, what's different about Delaware?'
Great question. What struck me was that voters in the state seemed to be less partisan than those in bigger places. We've done approval/favorability ratings on about 50 different politicians over the last three months. Only three of them had plurality support from voters in the opposite party. Andrew Cuomo was one of them but the other two were both in Delaware and represented each party- Democrats gave Mike Castle net positive reviews and Republicans gave Jack Markell the same.
I thought about it, and there are actually a number of deep blue or deep red states at the Presidential level who consistently give resounding reelections to certain statewide officials in the opposite party. North Dakota's Congressional delegation consists entirely of Democrats who have won at least 60% in their last two reelection contests. Vermont has a popular Republican Governor while Wyoming has a popular Democratic Governor. Maine has two unbeatable Republican Senators. South Dakota has a Democratic Senator and House member. Montana has a Democratic Governor and two Democratic Senators. All of these states vote the same way for President pretty much every time, and usually by a wide margin, but that hasn't kept opposite party politicians from enjoying widespread popularity.
I was talking to someone in Delaware about this earlier this week and he said that he thought it was a product of retail politics- that in a small state folks feel like they really know their politicians and that personal familiarity can trump party labels.