Governors rated most conservative easily won re-election

All the country’s top conservative governors were easily reelected in midterm elections that overall did not go as well as Republicans hoped.

Governors Kristi Noem of South Dakota, Ron DeSantis of Florida, Jared Polis of Colorado, Brad Little of Idaho, Bill Lee of Tennessee, Chris Sununu of New Hampshire, Brian Kemp of Georgia, and Greg Abbott of Texas were all ranked in the top 10 of conservative governors in a Laffer-ALEC analysis last year and coasted to reelection on Tuesday.

The Laffer-ALEC 2021 report, which was conducted by well-known conservatives such as ALEC’s Dr. Arthur B. Laffer and The Heritage Foundation’s Stephen Moore, ranked all 50 governors on their economic, fiscal, and executive policy, with conservative policy positions earning higher marks.

Ten governors earned a five-star ranking in the report, with eight facing reelection on Tuesday. That list included South Dakota’s Noem, who came in ranked number one. The Republican governor was easily reelected Tuesday, winning by 26.8 percentage points.


South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem.
(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)

Other Republican governors in the top 10 were DeSantis (3rd), Little (5th), Lee (6th), Sununu (7th), Kemp (9th), and Abbott (10th). The group easily won reelection in their races Tuesday, emerging with victory margins of 19.4%, 40.2%, 32%, 15.5%, 7.6%, and 11% respectively.

The only governor ranked in the top 10 that was not a Republican was Colorado’s Polis, who checked in at number four in the rankings. Polis was also able to easily coast to reelection, winning by a margin of 18.1%.

Though Polis was the only five-star governor to rank outside the top 10 in fiscal policy, coming in at 11th, the Colorado Democrat scored high marks on economic performance and executive policy, coming in at 4th and 7th in those metrics.

Polis was also one of the most reserved Democratic executives in the country during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, issuing a short stay-at-home order and resisting calls to reinstate the order during surges in cases in the state. 

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis.

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis.
(AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)


Not ranked in the top 10 was Ohio Republican Governor Mike DeWine, who won reelection by 25.6 percentage points but was ranked 32nd in the report. DeWine earned low marks for economic and executive policy, coming in at 34th and 35th in those metrics.

Republican Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine.

Republican Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine.
(AP Photo/David Richard)

But DeWine also scored conservative wins by signing the “heartbeat” abortion bill into law in 2019 and constitutional carry legislation earlier this year. Voters seemingly approved of the mixed record, with DeWine running nearly 10 percentage points in front of Republican Senate candidate J.D. Vance, who was endorsed by former President Donald Trump.