The State Houses – What’s At Stake in 2010

Thirty-nine states will be electing a governor during the 2009-2010 election cycle. Of these, eighteen races will not include an incumbent and four incumbents who will be running were not elected to their current position. The recession and huge budget deficits threaten to undercut the power of incumbency for governors running for reelection.

The Current Line-Up

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Feb
25

Independents – Kay’s Primary Hope or Curse?

By · Feb, 25 2010

Kay Bailey Hutchison has been courting Texas moderates in her primary showdown with Governor Rick Perry. The conventional wisdom has long been that, as the long-term incumbent governor tacked to the right to court the support of the primary electorate, Hutchison could woo the support of the more “moderate” element within the state GOP.

The surge of support for Ron Paul acolyte Debra Medina fueled by Tea Party energy and furor and the emergence of former Houston Mayor Bill White as the anticipated Democratic nominee should have, theoretically, strengthened Hutchison’s position. Medina should have drained support from Perry’s right flank while Hutchison could forcefully make the argument that she would be the more electable nominee in November against a credible Democratic threat to retake the Governor’s Mansion in Austin.

But that hasn’t happened. In fact, Hutchison continues to bleed support. Recent polls show Perry inching towards the magical 50% benchmark that would give him the nomination outright.

Perhaps those independent voters aren’t really Kay’s key to winning. It may be that longtime Democratic voters could hand Perry a big enough victory to avoid an April run-off.

Some are “mischief” voters who believe Houston Mayor Bill White, the likely Democratic nominee, has a better chance in November if Perry wins. Others are moderates who tend to follow the action but would be expected to lean toward Hutchison. And some are gung-ho anti-Perry voters, another Hutchison ray of hope.

Polls have shown Perry winning handily, although it’s not clear he can do so without a runoff. But the campaigns are scrambling to determine how many nontraditional voters might participate in the election, including first-time voters and participants in one or more Democratic primaries.

Not all the evidence that former Democratic voters could be a factor on the GOP side is anecdotal. An assessment of early voting in Austin by Jeff Smith of Opinion Analysts Inc., reported by the Austin American-Statesman on Tuesday, showed that almost 28 percent of early GOP voters cast ballots in the 2008 Democratic presidential primary.

It’s a given that Austin doesn’t vote like the rest of the state, and certainly not every 2008 primary voter was a true Democrat. Smith speculated that most of those who cast GOP ballots this time were moderates who jump back and forth, but no one knows for sure.

Mike Baselice, Perry’s pollster, said he expects to see more voters in the primary who’ve cast Democratic ballots in the past.

“It’s a wild card,” he said, “but from what I’m seeing, we’re doing better with them than the other candidates are.”

Could Democratic voters be borrowing a page from Rush Limbaugh’s political playbook, aiming to get Perry as White’s November opponent?

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