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 StateHouseRock Rankings

There are currently ten 2009-2010 gubernatorial races where the incumbent party is likely to lose the Governor’s Mansion. The top six likely to flip chairs were reviewed here. Numbers 6 through 10 appear below the fold. The top five Pick-Up Opportunities are all open seat contests. Only two incumbents (Nevada’s Jim Gibbons and New Jersey’s Jon Corzine) appear in our top ten list (at #7 and #9). 

Both 2009 races appear here, as Democrats continue trailing in both New Jersey and Virginia as Election Day quickly approaches. The Democratic Party has brighter prospects in the two western states of California and Nevada, while they are likely to struggle defending the open Governor’s Chair in Oklahoma, a state shifting toward the GOP at all levels of government. The contests in this group are all listed as “LEAN TAKEOVER,” meaning that while the challenging party is favored, there are scenarios in which the incumbent party can defend the governorship. For instance, if Nevada’s Gibbons retires or loses in a primary (both very likely scenarios), winning the Carson City Governor’s Mansion becomes a more difficult proposition for the Democrats. 

Analysis on gubernatorial races 6-10 can be found below the fold Read More→

The StateHouseRock Governor’s Race ratings begin with the five states most likely to see a party switch in the 2010 elections. All five are open Governor’s races. At the presidential level, none of these states are considered competitive swing states as each is firmly entrenched in either the Democratic Blue (Vermont and Hawai’i) or Republican Red (Kansas, Wyoming and Tennessee) column.  The incumbent governors all hail from the party that doesn’t carry the state in the electoral college.

These rankings are hardly set in stone. Any number of  circumstances could dramatically alter each party’s prospects in any state on the list.

Prior to Jim Douglas’ retirement announcement in late August, Vermont was a relatively safe bet to remain in Republican hands. That’s no longer the case. The race in Tennessee is the most crowded of the five and could move toward the Democrats (and futher down the list) depending on which candidates win their party’s nominations. If the two high-profile Democrats in Hawai’i engage in a no-holds-barred primary contest, the victor could emerge weakened, providing an opportunity for the GOP to retain the seat. Vermont’s GOP hasn’t yet regrouped from Douglas’ decision. If a credible candidate steps forward, the ranking might change. Wyoming could drop from near the top of the SHR rankings to the bottom if Dave Freudenthal challenges the state’s term-limits laws.

On to the rankings:

Read More→

Labor Day 2009 marks the starting point for the general election sprint to the finish line in the gubernatorial contests in New Jersey and Virginia where Democrats are struggling to defend two Governor’s Chairs against a Republican Party hoping wins in both states will herald their political revival.

It’s also a good time to survey the 2010 gubernatorial landscape and make predictions about which party will control the nation’s Governor’s Mansions when the states begin the post-Census redistricting process. In most states governors play a role (sometimes a veto-wielding one) in drawing legislative districts. Therefore, the winners of these contests will play a huge role in determining the next decade’s congressional partisan makeup.

While much is made of the size of the Democratic Party’s House and Senate majorities, the nation’s governors are also a critical and often overlooked component to successfully implementing the party’s agenda. The political implications  resting on the outcome of these gubernatorial races are enormous for President Obama. Will he have allies or a reenergized opposition residing in the nation’s Governor’s Mansions?

We’re now only fourteen months away from what the Democratic Governor’s Association calls the “Election of a Generation” when voters in 37 states will elect their chief executives, meaning the candidate recruiting season is coming to a close. In most states, the primary races have already come into focus with clear frontrunners emerging in many. In fact, the first 2010 battleground will unfold in the president’s homestate as the Illinois February primary is now less than five months away.

Now seems like a good time to check in on where the races stand. Over the next week StateHouseRock will post analysis of all 39 gubernatorial races (including the NJ & VA contests), starting with the most likely to switch partisan control to the safest retention contests.

  • Wed Sept 9: The Big Picture
  • Thur Sept 10: The Pick-Up Opportunities (Part 1)
  • Fri Sept 11: The Pick-Up Opportunities (Part 2)
  • Sat Sept 12: The Toss-Ups
  • Mon Sept 14: The Races to Watch (Part 1)
  • Tues Sept 15: The Races to Watch (Part 2)
  • Wed Sept 16: The Potential Long-Shots
  • Thur Sept 17: The Safe Chairs  

Safe Dem Likely Dem Lean Dem Toss-Up Lean GOP Likely GOP Safe GOP
New Jersey*    
Arkansas Maine California Arizona# Alabama Alaska# Idaho
Maryland New Mexico Colorado Florida Georgia  Connecticut Kansas
New Hampshire Oregon Hawai’i Michigan Oklahoma Tennessee Nebraska
  Vermont Illinois# Minnesota S. Carolina Wyoming S. Dakota
Iowa Rhode Island Texas Utah#
    New York#        




Chart Key
* indicates 2009 contest                  
# indicates current occupant not elected to position (there are six “Accidental Governors” but Kansas Democrat Mark Parkinson has said he will not run in 2010). 
Italicized states are open seat contests                
BOLD indicates a party switch                  
RED = Republican incumbent                  
BLUE = Democratic incumbent                  

 A look at the emerging campaign themes over the fold Read More→