Larry Summers and Starbucks: can we understand this category more generally?

by Andrew Gelman on September 16, 2013 · 10 comments

in Public opinion

Reading Sarah Binder’s post on the withdrawal of Lawrence Summers from consideration for a post on the Federal Reserve, I was reminded of our discussion from a few years ago about the similarities of Summers and Starbucks, both of which that are disliked by the left for being too corporate and disliked by the right for being too left-wing.

This made me wonder about the more general category, what other people and institutions have that public-opinion profile. I can’t think of a lot of examples. Bill Clinton, for instance, could have ended up this way, but my impression is that he is liked (even if not loved) on the left, that liberals excuse his centrism because he got a lot done. Similarly, sure, some conservatives were annoyed at the two George Bush for various reasons, but overall I think there’s a clear partisan divide. Nothing like Summers, who was actively opposed by liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans.

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