Opinion » Note

Rep. Corn Dog (R-Idaho)


The day before polls closed on Nov. 4, The Fix blog on washingtonpost.com guessed that "this could be the most dominant Republican Congress since 1929." That held true in the House, and was compounded by a Republican sweep of 30 state legislatures—the firmest grip the GOP has had on statehouses since 1920. Of course, Republicans also took control of the United States Senate, making this the most unbalanced government since the doom-struck administrations of Warren Harding, Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover (all Republicans).

One-party rule might be shocking to voters in some states, but it's business as usual in Idaho, where, as one wag put it, "a corn dog could get elected if it put an 'R' behind its name."

As expected as it is, the Republican hegemony in Idaho is becoming farcical. Nevermind "Chief of Schools" Sherri Ybarra—she of the plagiarized campaign materials, falsely appropriated accolades and shoddy autobiographical recall—and Lawerence "Dark Money" Denney, the elections chief who seems to think the biggest problem with voting is voters.

As Idaho's abysmal standard of living rivals potatoes for fame, voters' commitment to single-party government beggars belief.

Researchers at Stanford might have an explanation for this irrational partisanship in the June 2014 paper "Fear and Loathing Across Party Lines: New Evidence on Group Polarization." We'll call it the "Corn Dog Effect": "[H]ostile feelings for the opposing party are ingrained or automatic in voters' minds," reads the abstract, and "Partisans discriminate against opposing partisans ... to a degree that exceeds discrimination based on race." The "open animus" that partisans feel for one another goes unchecked by "norms governing the expression of negative sentiment," and, even worse, the so-called "partisan cues" that tell us who we disagree with have extended into everyday life: from the neighborhoods in which we choose to live to who we marry (a 2009 survey found only 9 percent of couples married across party lines).

We'll vote for any corn dog as long as that corn dog is our corn dog. Now, if you put anything other than mustard on your corn dog, I'm unfriending you on Facebook.