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


Archive for Polls


PollWatch: PPP Ranks the Gubers

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Public Policy Polling provides a run-down of the gubernatorial polling they’ve done throughout 2010.

The nation’s most popular (of the 30 polled by the PPP gang) is West Virginia’s Joe Manchin – who’s now ducking votes as a Senator in DC. The least popular is California’s Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has been making noise about wanting to move east to work on green issues at the federal level.

Of the governors up for re-election in 2011-12, Democratic incumbents Steve Beshear (KY) and Jay Nixon (MO) are looking pretty good at this point, as is Republican Bobby Jindal (LA). North Carolina’s Bev Perdue could be facing a tough reelection battle, especially considering how the GOP flipped the state legislature in the 2010 GOP tsunami.

Looking back, it could be argued that unpopular incumbent governors could’ve been a drag on their party’s nominees in the 2010 contests. PPP observes:

-Four Governors ended the year (and their terms) in the under 30% approval club. The least popular in the country at least in our polling is Arnold Schwarzenegger at a -38 spread (25/63). The other folks reaching this unwelcome unpopularity level are Bill Richardson at a -37 spread, Jim Gibbons at a -36, and John Baldacci at -29. It’s not a coincidence that 3 out of 4 of these guys saw the Governor’s office in their state flip to the other party last month.


Pollapalooza Thursday

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Arkansas: A poll from Razzmattaz Reports shows a much closer race than the conventional wisdom anticipates for incumbent Democrat Mike Beebe. They’ve got little-known restauranteur Jim Keet within 10 points of the popular Democrat, at 50-40%. Before dismissing this poll, it should be noted this is the second public poll showing Beebe falling to the 50% threshold. Could the Democratic brand be dragging him down? (Polling conducted 7/20, 500 AR likely voters, Moe +/- 4.5%)

Florida: Public Policy Polling has Democrat Alex Sink ahead of both potential Republican candidates, Bill McCollum and Rick Scott. She leads the former congresscritter (and Clinton impeachment manager) McCollum, 37-23% and the former healthcare executive Scott, 36-30%. Former Democrat Bud Chiles, whose independent candidacy could pose a problem for Sink, is currently polling in the mid-teens. (Polling conducted 7/16-18, 900 FL voters, MoE +/- 3.26%)

The Democrat’s lead may be more a function of the Republicans sinking rather than Sink rising. The intense, negative campaign being waged on Sunshine State television has seriously weakened both GOP candidates. Of the four candidates, only Sink boasts a net positive favorability rating. From PPP’s press release:

The Republican primary battle is taking its toll on both McCollum and Scott. Both candidates are undoubtedly better known than Sink, but it is not necessarily in their favor. 41% of Florida voters have an unfavorable opinion of Scott and 51% have an unfavorable opinion of McCollum.

Georgia: The busiest pollster in America has a quick look at the potential Georgia gubernatorial matchups. Only 24 hours after the primary ended (and the GOP run-off began), RazzleDazzle Reports that former congresscritter Nathan Deal is the stronger Republican against Democratic nominee Roy Barnes. Deal leads Barnes 49-43% while Karen Handel and Barnes are essentially tied, at 45-44%. (Polling conducted 7/21, 500 GA likely voters, MoE +/- 4.5%)

Idaho: Could Republican incumbent Butch Otter actually face a serious challenge from Democrat Keith Allred? Razzmattaz Reports – essentially the only polling outfit looking at the race in scarlet red Idaho – shows Allred creeping up on Otter. Two months ago he trailed by 22 points. He’s shaved 5 points off that deficit and now trails 53-37%. It’s also important to note that Allred has actually been outraising Otter. (Polling conducted 7/15, 500  ID likely voters, Moe +/- 4.5%)

Nevada: Will the son be paying for the sins of the father? It appears that while Reid the Elder may survive to serve another term in the US Senate, his kid Rory will be the Reid Silver State voters punish at the polls this November. PPP has dismal numbers for Reid the Younger in his gubernatorial contest against former federal judge Brian Sandoval, 52-38%. (Polling conducted 7/16-18, 630 NV voters, MoE +/- 3.9%)

New York: Andrew Cuomo continues to be the safest bet for Democrats as they look toward the 2010 elections. A survey from RazzleDazzle Reports shows Cuomo holding a better than two-to-one advantage over both Rick Lazio and Carl Paladino. Cuomo, a well-known quantity in the Empire State remains astonishingly popular in a year where politicians of all stripes are targets of voter rage. He’s sporting a 64-33% favorable/unfavorable number. (Polling conducted 7/20, 500 NY likely voters, MoE +/- 4.5%)

Democratic pollster Public Policy Polling has a poll that ought to shake up expectations in the Lone Star State. As Republicans ponder a potential 2012 presidential run by Rick Perry, it looks like he may have a more immediate concern – facing a tight re-election campaign against Democrat Bill White.

From PPP:

Texas would seem an unlikely candidate to provide Democrats their biggest win of the election cycle but the Governor’s race there is a reminder that candidates matter. Perry is an unusually weak incumbent, while White is an unusually strong challenger. Only 36% of voters in the state like the job Perry is doing while 49% disapprove. Among independents the numbers are particularly bad- just 27% give Perry good marks to 55% who think he’s doing a poor job. White meanwhile is better known and better liked than most challengers running across the country this year. 37% of voters have a favorable opinion of him to 25% with an unfavorable one and he posts positive numbers with independents at a 35/24 spread.

As Perry continues to dodge White regarding debates, White has ratcheted up his criticism of the incumbent as a “part-time” governor more concerned with scoring political points than solving the serious problems confronting the state. An exploding state deficit could become a political liability for the longest-serving governor in state history. Hoping to deflect responsibility, Perry will continue blaming the state’s fiscal problems on the Obama Administration. Bashing Washington (and the Democrats in charge) remains a particularly potent force in Texas.

Categories : Polls, Texas
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Attorney General Mike Cox has erased a 12-point deficit to Rep. Pete Hoekstra in the Michigan GOP gubernatorial primary, according to Lansing-based pollster EPIC/MRA.  He’s been hoarding endorsements from a smorgasbord of conservative special interests groups and Republican leaders. In May, Hoekstra led Cox by a 30%-18% margin.

On the Democratic side, House Speaker Andy Dillon has expanded his slim lead over Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero to ten, 34%-24%, although a huge bloc of Democratic voters (42%) remain undecided six weeks before the August 3 primary.


The pollster credits Cox’s rise to his trifecta of  endorsements from Michigan Right to Life, the state Chamber of Commerce and GOP insiders Betsy and Dick DeVos. Cox has  established himself as the establishment candidate in the race.

But that hasn’t necessarily been a good thing this year.

Categories : Michigan, Polls
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All the national media attention has been on the GOP Senate primary, where Sue Lowden has provided more fodder for the 24/7 cable news shows than anyone since, well, Rand Paul.

The gubernatorial primary hasn’t been nearly as fascinating, although today’s vote does seem to be the day when Jim Gibbons, an embarrassment to Silver State politics (and that’s saying a lot considering it’s home to the aforementioned Lowden and John Ensign) might finally be handed his walking papers. GOP primary voters seem ready to throw the philandering (but celibate) governor out of office after a disastrous first term.

Gibbons trails former federal judge Brian Sandoval in every public poll, despite his efforts to gin up support among the Tea Party activists. He does lead Sandoval 42%-36% among self-identified Tea Party members.

It’s a testament to Gibbons’ resiliency (and says something about the Republican vote in Nevada) that he only trails Sandoval by 16 points in the latest Las Vegas Review-Journal poll. Could he pull off a surprise if a surge of Tea Party activists vote today? If former North Las Vegas Mayor Mike Montandon wasn’t in the race siphoning off some of the votes from the right, the Gibbons-Sandoval race would be much tighter.

Sandoval and Gibbons are battling for the honor taking on the Reid dynasty. Rory Reid (the younger) will become the Democratic nominee today and you bet he’s hoping for Gibbons to pull off an upset today. Polls show him getting trounced by Sandoval in the fall. The Anybody But Reid climate in the state makes even Gibbons somewhat competitive in general election matchups (Reid leads Gibbons by a 44-38 margin in the LVRJ poll). What does that say about Rory’s chances in November?

Categories : Nevada, Polls
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Absolutely no one is sure who will emerge today from the very crowded fields in Maine’s race for the Blaine House.

Public polling in the Pine Tree State has been virtually nonexistent. The limited glimpses into the state of the race show a muddled picture, to say the least.

Last week, the Maine Omnibus poll revealed that “Undecided” not only led the field, but trounced all candidates in both primary contests.  A whopping 61% of Democrats and 47% of Republicans remained undecided with less than two weeks to go until Election Day.

The biggest news from Maine came a month ago when Tea Party activists rejected the GOP party platform and replaced it with a much more conservative version. While Democrats are eager to make this an example of the extremism overtaking the state GOP, the guber wannabes have studiously avoided fully embracing the new platform while gingerly dancing around the most controversial planks. But let’s be honest, rarely do voters make their voting booth decisions on platforms, as most see them for what they are – nothing more than ideological “wish lists.”


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The June Field Poll [pdf] a widely respected California pollster recently rated by fivethirtyeight’s Nate Silver as the most accurate pollster he analyzed shows MegaBucks Whitman squashing Steve Poizner’s brief surge in GOP primary polling. 

She’s ahead in every region and every demographic one week before voters go to the polls. With nearly 40% of Californians voting early in recent elections, Whitman’s victory may already be a done deal.


Categories : California, Polls
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The Texas Tribune has more analysis gleaned from their recent statewide survey highlighting how the two gubernatorial nominees’ support breaks out geographically.

Democrat Bill White is competitive with incumbent Republican Rick Perry in the state’s four largest metropolitan areas (Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and Austin) but gets trounced by him “everywhere else.”

if the results for the Big Four Metro areas are combined, we discover that Perry leads White by only 41%-39% among all respondents from these areas. Given the poll’s 3.46% margin of error, this means that Perry and White are statistically tied in the Big Four. Perry’s statistically significant nine-point statewide lead over White in the poll is therefore largely owing to his dramatic lead among voters from everywhere else in the state.

Which leads to the conclusion that Bill White’s problem is with rural Texas, right?

Well, not quite.

“Everywhere else,” it turns out, can’t be neatly placed into a stereotypical, small-town Texan. Everywhere else includes the Democratic-leaning Rio Grande Valley and the good-sized city of El Paso. It includes Republican cities as diverse as Waco, Midland and Amarillo. It’s not just rural Texas. Read More→

Categories : Polls, Texas
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The GOP’s Hawkeye State Civil War may be closer than most observers think.

With one week to go, former Governor Terry Branstad has a 15-point lead over his lesser-known opponent Bob Vander Plaats, according to a new survey from Democratic pollster Public Policy Polling.  State Rep. Rod Roberts is a distant third. The well-known, much better funded Branstad’s failure to reach 50% may mean a surprise is brewing in the midwest.

Vander Plaats’ major obstacle is his relative anonymity among primary voters – 34% say they did not have an opinion about him. Only 22% said that about Branstad, who served 16 years as Iowa’s chief executive in the 1980s and 90s.

Hoping to change those numbers, Vander Plaats recently began airing two campaign ads statewide, one attacking Branstad and the other Democratic incumbent Chet Culver.

PPP found that conservative Republicans – who are the bulk of the primary electorate – are closely split between the two.

GOP Primary Vote
  Overall Liberal Moderate Conservative
Branstad 46% 62% 58% 41%
Roberts 13% 28% 14% 11%
Vander Plaats 31% 10% 19% 35%
Undecided 11%   9% 12%

In a blog post, Public Policy sees Branstad as a  surprisingly vulnerable favorite:

Terry Branstad served as Governor of Iowa for four terms. Bob Vander Plaats’ only experience with political office has been losing campaigns for it. But fueled by support from conservatives and an anti-establishment environment Vander Plaats appears to at least have a chance at pulling a big upset in next week’s primary. Branstad currently stands at a surprisingly low 46%, followed by Vander Plaats at 31% and Rod Roberts at 13%.

The race is particularly tight among the conservative voters who have been giving GOP establishment candidates fits across the country so far in 2010. With them Branstad leads Vander Plaats only 41-35. He expands his overall lead thanks to a 58-19 advantage with moderates.

Among voters that actually know who Vander Plaats is- whether they see him favorably or unfavorably- he leads Branstad 42-37

Vander Plaats’ ads after the jump… Read More→

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Rasmussen has their last pre-primary state of the race snapshot from the Land of Enchantment, where they see Dona Ana County District Attorney Susana Martinez pulling into a dead-heat in a potential November match-up against Democratic Lt. Governor Diane Denish.

Denish had held double-digit leads over all five Republican candidates when Rasmussen last looked at these match-ups in late March.  In early spring, it was former GOP Chair Allen Weh who posed the biggest threat to Denish’s quest to replace term-limited Bill Richardson in the Roundhouse. After a barrage of television ads touting her as tough on crime (and a “you betcha!” from Sarah Palin),  Martinez looks to be the strongest Republican in the crowded field.



New Mexico Gubernatorial Match-ups 

DianeDenish (D) vs. The Republican candidates


Martinez (R)

  42% (32)

     plus 10

Domenici (R)

30% (35)

minus 5


Denish (D)

43% (51)

    minus 8

Denish (D)

47% (52)

minus 5


Some other

3% (7)


Some other

15% (6)



Not sure

12% (10)


Not sure

9% (6)










Weh (R)

39% (35)

plus 5

Arnold-Jones (R)

31% (30)

plus 1


Denish (D)

45% (45)


Denish (D)

45% (52)

minus 7


Some other

9% (7)


Some other

11% (6)



Not sure

7% (13)


Not sure

13% (12)










Turner (R)

31% (34)

minus 3


Denish (D)

47% (43)

plus 4


Some other

11% (7)



Not sure

11% (16)



Read More→

Categories : New Mexico, Polls
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