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

A new poll from Suffolk University reinforces the numbers Rasmussen released a couple of weeks ago. What has once been a toss-up contest between Gov. Deval Patrick (D), Charlie Baker (R) and Timothy Cahill (Ind) has shifted toward the incumbent.

Suffolk state of the race numbers (including Green Party candidate Jill Stein)/MoE +/- 4.4%

Mass Gubernatorial Matchup






Patrick (D)





Baker (R)





Cahill (I)





Stein (G)










As with the earlier poll, Patrick’s growth seems to be coming at Cahill’s expense.

The RGA has had a sustained, multi-media attack against Cahill for nearly a month. It’s clear he’s paying a price in the polling. Two-thirds (67%) of respondents had seen (or heard) the RGA ads. Of those, 21% said they were more likely to vote for Patrick because of the ads. Only 15% said they were more likely to vote for Baker while 10% said they were more likely to vote for Cahill.

It’s not all good news for the governor. Patrick’s job approval numbers are in negative territory (42% approve, 49% disapprove).  The poll also shows only one-third of Massachusetts voters think he deserves a second term, an encouraging sign for GOP strategists.

But, it’s still too early to tell whether or not Republicans who wanted a two-man contest with the once-embattled governor have misread the Bay State’s political winds.  Can Baker replicate Scott Brown’s surprise victory?  The demographics of a general election are far different than those of a special. There will be more voters going to the polls in November than this past January.

For a Republican to win statewide in this state where the GOP constitutes a small portion of the electorate, they have to win over a large percentage of independents and Baker’s margin over Patrick at this point isn’t nearly enough.

Patrick captured 76 percent of registered Democrats, while Baker won 77 percent of registered Republicans.  Among independents, Baker led Patrick by 35 percent to 26 percent, far less than the 64 percent to 29 percent advantage among independents that Scott Brown had over Martha Coakley in a Jan. 14 Suffolk University/7 News survey.  That survey was the first live telephone poll to show Brown winning.

Thus far, Baker hasn’t caught Brown’s magic.

Categories : Massachusetts, Polls, RGA
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In somewhat of a head-scratcher (especially considering recent numbers from Survey USA and PPP showing Whitman maintaining a wide lead in the GOP primary), Rasmussen finds that Steve Poizner is more competitive against Democrat Jerry Brown in a November gubernatorial matchup.

Rasmussen’s numbers (trend from April 21):



45 (44)


43 (50)


41 (38)


42 (32)


8 (9)


7 (10)


7 (9)


8 (8)

It’s been the “accepted wisdom” that Poizner would be the Brown camp’s preferred Republican candidate in the fall, if only for the reason his deep pockets aren’t as deep as Whitman’s. This might put a (slight) damper on that thinking, although it is important to remember this is Rasmussen.

The survey also reveals that the intense, sustained fighting between the two GOP rivals has made both Republicans less popular than the well-known Brown.

Favorable Unfavorable Not sure Net
Whitman 48 47 5 {plus 1}
Brown 53 42 5 {plus 11}
Poizner 48 47 5 {plus 1}
Categories : California, Polls
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Guber Quick Hits, Tues 5/25/10

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Alabama: Ron Sparks is touting an internal poll showing him in a tie with Artur Davis. Public polls have sh0wn him trailing throughout the campaign, although Research 2000 did find the race within single digits. That same poll did reveal Sparks as the stronger general election candidate against the possible Republican candidates.

California: When Steve Poizner is asked, “What can Brown do for you?” he can respond, “Plenty.”

Connecticut: Democrats emerged from their endorsing convention this week naming former Stamford Mayor Dan Malloy the party’s pick over Ned Lamont. The Hartford Courant reports the primary contest has already begun in earnest. Apparently, the candidates left the gathering without speaking to one another.

Florida: Acknowledging the reality that she couldn’t compete with AG Bill McCollum and billionaire Rick Scott’s financial resources, not to mention her lack of traction in polling, state Sen. Paula Dockerydropped her long-shot bid for the GOP gubernatorial nod.

New Mexico: After watching his party’s primary turn into a mudslinging free-for-all between guber wannabes Allen Weh and Susana Martinez, the state GOP chair took the unusual step of calling out Weh for being dishonest in his television ads against Martinez.

Rhode Island: looks at Lincoln Chafee’s chance of becoming the nation’s first independent governor elected since Jesse Ventura a dozen years ago.

South Carolina: While much of the focus in the Palmetto State has been on the salacious “he said, she said” scandal involving Nikki Haley, fellow Republican Gresham Barrett also has a developing scandal of his own. It may not be as sexy, but when politicians receive envelopes stuffed with $84,000 in cash, it’s not something voters look upon all that favorably.

Vermont: The state legislature’s recent vote to approve pursuing (by 122-5) basing F-35 fighter jets at Burlington International Airport could become a campaign issue, if the Progressive Party has anything to say about it. Not surprisingly, they’re opposed. Will they pull any of the four Democrats running for governor to the left?

Wisconsin: Mark Neumann is calling on fellow Republican Scott Walker to reimburse the county the expense of a worker who recently resigned because she was posting political comments while at work.  Walker, who recently returned $43,800 in illegal contributions, isn’t planning on paying, saying he wasn’t aware of the employee’s activities.

~ graphic by Jacob Villaneuva, Texas Tribune

A new poll commissioned by the University of Texas and the Texas Tribune shows Governor Rick Perry (R) leading his Democratic challenger former Houston Mayor Bill White, 44%-35%.

At first glance, it doesn’t seem Democrats are going to make a dent in the GOP’s dominance in the Lone Star State. The poll shows GOP nominees leading in every statewide contest on the November ballot.

But the Tribune does see a potential problem for Perry, already the longest serving Texas governor in history as he pursues re-election.

Those numbers are identical to the results of a “fantasy race” between White and Perry in the February UT/TT poll, which was taken before Democratic and Republican primary voters selected the two men as their nominees. This time, 15 percent said they don’t know yet who they’ll vote for, and 7 percent said they’d prefer “someone else.” That last finding could be consequential: Libertarians will choose their candidate for governor at a state convention next month, and that candidate or a write-in or some combination of the two could give those “someone else” voters a place to go.

Read More→

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Guber Quick Hits, Sat 5/22/10

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Alabama: The phone lines “blew up” on Paul Finebaum’s radio show over the hottest topic in the GOP gubernatorial primary this week. Was it immigration? The oil spill threatening the state’s coast? Those incessant attack ads? Nope. Was Crimson Tide football.

“It’s the most engaged they (callers) have been in regards to Alabama politics in a long time, but of course we’re talking about something bigger than Alabama politics — Nick Saban,” Finebaum told The Birmingham News tonight.

For the record Tim James doesn’t plan of firing the championship coach. Not that he could.

Arizona: Gov. Jan Brewer’s decision to sign the state’s notorious immigration legislation has put her Democratic guber rival into a political straitjacket. AG Terry Goddard is the one who will defend the law in court, despite his personal opposition.

Connecticut: Home-state poller Quinnipiac deserted the Nutmeg State this week, as it diverted polling resources from surveying the nomination contests for the open Governor’s race in favor of the red-hot Sestak-Specter primary. With the Blumenthal stunner rocking the political establishment, I wonder if they’re second-guessing the decision. The Q-Poll’s most recent Connecticut survey was taken in March and showed huge numbers of undecided voters in both guber races.

Illinois: GOP Light Guv hopeful Jason Plummer is defending his decision to withhold his income tax returns, arguing it would put his family’s businesses at a competitive disadvantage. He accused Gov. Pat Quinn of making it an issue to divert attention from his failed record as governor. ”It’s really frustrating to have an enabler of Rod Blagojevich try to question your ethics or transparency,” Plummer said.  The twenty-seven year old newcomer knows how to play hardball.

Minnesota: DFL-endorsed guber hopeful Margaret Anderson Kelliher picked budget wonk John Gunyou as her Light Guv dance partner. As the Speaker, she’s been intimately familiar with the state’s fiscal woes and this pick certainly signals she wants to get serious about tackling the state’s budget challenges. Or, with a name like that, maybe she’s targeting the NRA vote?

Utah: Not sure if Gov Gary Herbert and the state leg heard about what happened to Robert Bennett a few weeks ago, but I’m not sure how going along with healthcare reform is going to go over with the Tea Party. I’m guessing not well.

Another poll shows what was once inconceivable. Steve Poizner may be closing in on stealing the CA GOP nod away from MegaBucks Whitman.

This time its Research 2000/Daily Kos who show Whitmans support declining while Poizner is surging, winning over all the undecideds, plus.  Whitman still leads (and early voting is underway) so it’s not clear Poizner has enough immigrant-bashing, porno-peddling, wedge issue-driven MoJo to push him to victory, but a MegaBucks concession speech is not outside the realm of possibility.

In a sign of her desperation, she brought in former GOP Gov. Pete Wilson in radio ads to assure GOP primary voters Meg would be tough on illegal immigration. To many Californians, this issue no longer resonates after the bitter struggles of the early 90s. Wilson may work in the primary, but it is certain to alienate Latinos, a critical (and huge!) voting bloc come November.

The numbers (with March 8-10 trend)







46 (52)

36 (19)

18 (29)


41 (49)

42 (23)

17 (28)


51 (55)

30 (15)

19 (30)

Looking around the corner to November, Jerry Brown holds slight leads over either opponent, with Poizner looking like the easier opponent at this point. Poizner’s hard tack to the right, particularly on immigration, may make it much more difficult to move back to the middle for the general.




46 (45)


47 (48)


42 (41)


37 (33)


12 (14)


16 (19)

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Rasmussen is the first out of the gate gauging the Keystone State general election contest between Tom Corbett and Dan Onorato. Corbett, who sailed through the GOP primary starts out ahead of Onorato, who emerged from a more competitive (but hardly difficult) Democratic contest.

Although the survey shows Corbett with a double-digit lead and tantalizing close to the 50% mark, the trend over the past three months has been toward Onorato.

Pennsylvania Gubernatorial Trend





Tom Corbett (R)





Dan Onorato (D)





Some other candidate





Not sure





Another piece of encouraging news for Onorato is that as voters have gotten to know Onorato, they tend to like him. His favorables have gone up while his unfavorables have held steady.



Not Sure

Net (May)

Swing (April – May)


57% (56)

26% (29)

17% (15)


plus 4


46% (41)

32% (32)

22% (27)


plus 5

This contest is going to be the undercard to the Senate race’s main event. The dynamics of the Sestak-Toomey race will determine the demographics of the November electorate. The Keystone State is projected to have many competitive congressional races as well.

If Sestak is successful  in motivating progressive Democrats in vote-rich southeastern Pennsylvania it will help Onorato build on his Pittsburgh base. Democrats also have a huge registration advantage in the state. If they’re successful in getting voters motivated, Onorato has a decent shot of defending this governorship.

Categories : Pennsylvania, Polls
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Guber Quick Hits, TGIF 5/21/10

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Alabama: With the June 1 primary rapidly approaching, Republican Robert Bentley has released an internal poll claiming the primary contest is tightly packed. Bradley Byrne leads with 27%, while Bentley, Tim James and Roy Moore are all jockeying for the all-important second place slot. It’s clear that none of the candidates is likely to reach the 50% threshold necessary to win outright, meaning a run-off between any of the four is possible.

Alabama II: The guber line has changed over at Doc’s Political Power. They’ve got both Dems falling on the list, although they’re not quite sure Artur Davis is a certainty to win the Dem nod any longer. On the GOP side, Tim James has made it a contest, powered by his nationally known wedge issue TeeVee ads.

Colorado: speculates about whether “Joe G” is a “straw man” candidate running to help Scott McInnis discredit Tea Party fave Dan Maes’ guber candidacy. Reportedly, there are robo-calls ripping into Maes and directing people to a web site, DanMaesCantWin.

Hawaii: Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann still hasn’t made it official, but to dispel rumors he may be considering a run for Senate, a senior aide has confirmed he will be running for governor, as everyone has long expected. Mufi won’t resign his current office until July 20, the last day possible.

New York: The Empire State Dems gather in Rye next Tuesday and it’s still the “Waiting on Andrew Game.”

New York II: With Rick Lazio having already picked his Light Guv running mate, the chatter in NY GOP circles is all about who Steve will pick as his dance partner.

Oregon: The Democratic Party has a creatively named anti-Dudley website up called “,” complete with a post titled “The tallest candidate, the shortest answers.”

Pennsylvania: Vanquished Tea Party favorite Sam Rohrer, who garnered 31% of the GOP primary vote on Tuesday isn’t sure whether he will endorse the winner, Tom Corbett.

Wisconsin: Republican Scott Walker’s campaign is returning $43,800 in illegal campaign donations. That’s the amount a railroad executive reimbursed employees for the donations they made to Walker’s guber bid. He claims he didn’t know it was against the rules. Really?

Yesterday, Rasmussen provided a glimpse of the South Carolina GOP primary (with Nikki Haley showing some big Mo). Today, they’ve got a snapshot of the Blue Team’s primary.

SC State Senator Vincent Sheheen has begun to separate himself from his two competitors. The only other time Rasmussen looked at this contest (back in early March) Sheheen was essentially even with the two other Democratic candidates, Superintendent of Education Jim Rex and Sheheen’s senate colleague Robert Ford. Since then, Ford has seen his support diminish dramatically, essentially becoming a non-player in the nomination race, according to Rasmussen’s numbers.



Vincent Sheheen



Jim Rex



Robert Ford



Some other candidate



Dwight Drake*



Not sure



*Drake dropped out of race March 5

With nearly one-third of Democratic voters still undecided three weeks before the June 8 primary, Sheheen’s 8 point lead over Rex isn’t insurmountable. But Sheheen has proven the strongest fundraiser in the Democratic field, has garnered some impressive endorsements and is the candidate capable of maintaining a television presence in the closing weeks of the campaign. He’s got a bio ad up and running, promising “a real generation of leadership.”

Sheheen’s ad (and more Rasmussen numbers) below the fold. Read More→

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Quick Hits, Thursday 5/20/10

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Alabama: It may be just me, but when you’re touting an internal poll showing you’ve got mediocre support among the most critical Democratic voting bloc, your primary campaign is in trouble. Never understood why Artur Davis thought running to the middle was a sound primary strategy. You can’t get to the general if you don’t win the nomination first.

Arizona: Rasmussen confirms Jan Brewer’s assault on civil rights has propelled her way, way, way to the front of the GOP field in what had previously been a tight contest. She now commands 45% of GOP voters (that’s up from 26% a month ago).

California: Could Democrats be overreaching by including ending the death penalty in their party platform? Can’t imagine AG Jerry Brown wants to campaign on that.

Connecticut: The New York Times and a state Supreme Court decision threatened to derail the political ambitions of two prominent Democratic officials as the party heads into this week’s state convention.

Florida: Bill McCollum has sent off a sternly worded letter to BP stating the obvious. Hurricane season is starting and that could make the mess in the Gulf much, much worse. Oh, and by the way, the AG asks, please promise to pay for the clean-up. Pretty please?

Idaho: Could Bruce Otter actually face a legitimate Democratic challenge this year? If fundraising ability is any indicator, the answer may be yes. Between January and early May, Democrat Keith Allred out raised the incumbent by $210,000 to $193,000. The campaign isn’t lacking in confidence, either. They’re touting a recent Rasmussen poll showing them trailing by 22 points as a sign the race will be a dead heat by November.

Iowa: Former Gov. Terry Branstad picked up a big endorsement. An anti-tax group, Iowans for Tax Relief, broke a long-standing policy of remaining neutral in primaries and endorsed the front-runner who had been criticized by the other GOP guber wannabes for signing a series of tax hikes during his (long) stint as Iowa’s governor.

Kansas: Sam Brownback may have picked a fight with the wrong special interest. His amendment to the Wall Street reform package currently being debated in the US Senate advocates for an auto dealer exemption. Turns out, he’s angered another (bigger) special interest – the US Military. Democrat Tom Holland has seized upon the issue as an example of how Brownback’s time in DC has caused him to forget whose interests he’s supposed to serve.

New York: GOP hopeful Rick Lazio has selected his Light Guv dance partner.

Utah: Salt Lake City Mayor Peter Corroon is inviting supporters to come to “Corroon Country” – his new effort to link supporters of his bid to oust Republican Gov. Gary Herbert this November.