America’s Leaders Don’t Hail From CNBC’s Top States For Business

CNBC’s Top States For Business may not be a political bellwether but perhaps that is just as well for our government leaders in Washington.

The 2010 results don’t reflect well on the home states of these men and women, regardless of their political affiliation. (Not that they are calling the shots there.)

Whether it is the White House, Congress or the Federal Reserve, the occupants hail from or represent states relatively low in the rankings.

US President Barack Obama speaks alongside Chairman of the Federal Reserve Ben Bernanke during the Economic Daily Briefing.
Saul Loeb | AFP | Getty Images
US President Barack Obama speaks alongside Chairman of the Federal Reserve Ben Bernanke during the Economic Daily Briefing.

Second-Half Showing

Take President Obama. His former senatorial, and adopted, state ofIllinois, ranked 30. (The state he grew up in, Hawaii, by the way, has been 48 or 49 for the past four years.)

Vice President Biden’s home of three-plus decades, Delaware, came in 42nd for the second straight year.

Things might not have been that different if the GOP won the White House in 2008. Arizona, the home state of Sen. John McCain, ranked 18, but Sarah Palin’s Alaska came in 50th for the fourth year in a row.

As for the person with what’s considered the second-most important job in Washington D.C., Ben Bernanke, Federal Reserve Board Chairman, his home state, South Carolina, ranked 31.

The White House’s Chief Economist Christine Romer, grew up in Illinoisand Ohio, but worked in California for 20 years. The states’ respective rankings are 30, 35, 32, an average of 32.

The rankings for the states of Congressional leaders are even worse: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nevada, 47); Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (California, 32); Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Kentucky, 40); and House Minority Leader John Boehner (Ohio, 34).

America's Top States for Business - A CNBC Special Report
America's Top States for Business - A CNBC Special Report

The economy category rankings are equally unimpressive: Obama (Illinois, 29); Biden (Delaware, 45); McCain (Arizona, 41); Palin (Alaska, 41); Reid (Nevada, 49); Pelosi, Romer (Calif., 18); McConnell (Ky., 44); Boehner (Ohio, 34); Bernanke (S.C., 46).

In other key categories: only South Carolinafinished in the top 20 in the Cost of Doing Business; Delaware, Arizona and Nevada made the same bracket in Business Friendliness.

In case you are wondering why Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner is not on the list, he spent much of his youth overseas, and his adult years working in Washington DC, with a short time in New York, where he ran the regional Fed.

If you’re looking for a good showing on the Congressional side, Massachusetts—represented by Democratic Rep. Barney Frank, chairman of the powerful House Financial Services Committee and an author of sweeping financial reform legislation—came in No. 5 this year, after a top-ten showing last year; and Iowa, represented by Charles Grassley, the senior Republican on the Senate Finance Committee—ranked 6th this year and 4th in 2009, while securing the top spot in the Cost of Doing Business Category.

Barney Frank
Barney Frank

As for the executive branch, you need to go back to the last administration. Texas, home of George W. Bush, has topped our rankings two of the four years, including 2010. VP Dick Cheney’s Wyoming came in at 14 this year and 13 in 2009. Both states also made the top ten in the economy category the past three years.

Looking Ahead

If you’re already handicapping the 2012 presidential election, the top semi-public GOP candidates provide food for thought. They are Palin, now a TV commentator; Tim Pawlenty, governor of Minnesota; Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas; and Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts, whose father was governor of Michigan.

For the sake of balance, on the Democratic side, in addition to President Obama, there is Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, assuming things go very badly for the president.

Finally, lets assume the major independent will be New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

How do their states rank overall as well as in the economy category?

Bloomberg (New York), Huckabee (Arkansas), Palin (Alaska) and Pawlenty (Minnesota) are associated mostly with one state and earn rankings of 24/2, 32/27, 50/4, and 8/5, respectively.

Obama (Hawaii/Illinois) and Romney (Michigan/Massachusetts) are two-state entries, which requires averaging their scores. Obama’s general and economy rankings are 36/22, while Romney’s are 27/26

Clinton’s non-Washington residential life was spent in three states (Illinois, Arkansas and New York). Her general/economy rankings average out to 14/27.

Here’s looking at Bloomberg, Clinton and Pawlenty in 2012. Stay tuned for the 2011 and 2012 editions of America's top states.

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