Is The Yankee Republican An Endangered Species?

Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, stand outside the door to her office on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday night, Feb. 28, 2012, before she talked about her decision not to run for re-election this fall. (AP)

Republican voters will have their pick on Super Tuesday but for a certain kind of New England conservative, the field of candidates has a conspicuous absence: the Yankee Republican candidate.

The Yankee Republican — socially tolerant, fiscally conservative — has become a rare breed. In recent years one could point to Maine Sen. Olympia Snowe as a modern day example, but in announcing her retirement last week, Snowe said Washington was no longer hospitable to her brand of politics.

“What I like to call the sensible center has now virtually disappeared in Washington, and the reality is it’s nearly impossible to make progress without partners in the Senate who are willing to reach out from all points on the political spectrum,” Snowe said.

“The reality in America today is that the electorate is increasingly becoming divided into red states and blue states, which elect people representing just one color or the other.”

So is the so-called Yankee Republican an endangered species? According to our guests, the moderate Republican that New England has been known for started disappearing long before the current Congress.


  • Sarah Binder, senior fellow at the Brookings Institute; political science professor, George Washington University
  • Michael Cohen, fellow at the Century Foundation

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