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Updated:
Fri. Aug 01, 2014
Senate
Republicans 49
Democrats 49
Independents 2
GOP +4
House
Republicans 233
Democrats 202
DEM +1
Governors
Republicans 29
Democrats 21
no change
2014 Elections on Demand
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November 4, 2014

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2014 Gubernatorial Races

Today's numbers are posted.  I found a few interesting results to point out among the latest polls.  First, SurveyUSA has a poll out of Kansas giving Democrat Paul Davis a surprising 6-point lead over incumbent Republican Governor Sam Brownback.  Time will tell if that poll is an outlier or indicative of an unexpectedly difficult re-election bid for Brownback.  Kansas does have a history, despite its deep red nature, of electing Democrats to the statehouse, so Brownback would be wise to take Davis' challenge very seriously.  You can get the details on this race on the Kansas Governor election page.

Second, Rasmussen's latest poll testing the Colorado Senate election puts Republican challenger Cory Gardner just a single point behind incumbent Democratic Senator Mark Udall.  Rasmussen's track record of late has been suspect, but an April Quinnipiac poll found the same one point separating Udall and Gardner.  It looks like Republicans may have a legitimate takeover opportunity in the Rocky Mountain State this year.

Finally, a poll by the conservative-leaning Civitas organization gives Kay Hagan a four-point lead over Republican Thom Tillis in the North Carolina Senate election.  As a result, the Democratic incumbent is projected to keep the seat for the blue team, reducing the GOP's projected Senate gain to just 5 seats - one less than they need for the majority.  Projected tally:  50 Republicans, 48 Democrats, 2 Independents

posted by Scott Elliott at 5:52pm 06/30/14 :: link
The Portland Press Herald released a poll surveying the 3-way 2014 Maine Governor election.  Democrat Mike Michaud leads the poll by 4 points over incumbent Republican Paul LePage, 40-36.  Independent candidate, Eliot Cutler, is a strong third, pulling in 15%.

As a result of this new survery, the EP poll average for this race now shows Michaud up by 2 points, and Election Projection has changed the rating from Weak GOP Hold to Weak DEM Gain.  The new projected pickup in the 2014 gubernatorial elections, evens the gains at 3 statehouses for each party.  The new governors tally is 29 Republicans and 21 Democrats - that's unchanged from the existing balance of power.

posted by Scott Elliott at 9:07pm 06/23/14 :: link
Just this Tuesday, Republican incumbent Rick Scott overtook Democrat Charlie Crist in the Florida governor election projection.  That advantage was short-lived as SurveyUSA's offering yesterday turned the tables back in favor of the challenger.  This latest SurveyUSA poll gives Crist a 4-point lead.  That's a six-point improvement over the previous SurveyUSA poll from late May.  The gubernatorial tally moves back to 30 Republicans and 20 Democrats, a net gain of one for the red team.
posted by Scott Elliott at 9:57am 06/12/14 :: link
Today's update brings one significant rating change.  A Public Policy Polling survey out of Florida finds Republican incumbent Governor Rick Scott and his Democratic opponent Charlie Crist exactly tied.  Combined with a SurveyUSA poll taken late last month, the PPP poll gives Scott a slight advantage in today's calculations.  This update shifts the Florida Governor election projection from Weak DEM Gain to Weak GOP Hold.  Republicans are now projected to hold 31 statehouses after this year's elections.  That's an increase of two over their current count.
posted by Scott Elliott at 5:27pm 06/10/14 :: link
Today's Election Projection remains unchanged among Senate and House races, but a couple of ratings changes alter the Governor elections summary.  Even with the changes, however, there is no change to report in the projected statehouse tally - which still stands at 30 Republicans and 20 Democrats.

In Iowa, a polling outfit I haven't seen before, from Loras College, gives Republican incumbent Governor Terry Branstad a 14-pt edge over likely Democratic nominee Jack Hatch.  Including this new poll in the calculations moves the projection from Mod GOP Hold to Strong GOP Hold.

In the open Massachusetts governor election, the primary isn't until September 9.  But the likely nominees are Democrat Martha Coakley and Republican Charles Baker, Jr.  The Bay State should be an easy hold for the blue team, but recent polls, one from the Boston Globe, another from Suffolk/Boston Herald, show a more competitive race with Baker trailing Coakley by 5 and 7 points, respectively.  Coakley's advantage in today's update moves from Solid DEM Hold to Mod DEM Hold.

posted by Scott Elliott at 9:47pm 06/09/14 :: link
Election Projection is receiving a lot of traffic today from search engines, so I thought I'd share with you the benefits EP has to offer.  If this is your first time visiting Election Projection, let me welcome you!  EP has a ten year history of providing some of the most accurate election predictions you'll find on the internet.

EP's Track Record
Using mathematical formulas, EP projected Bush would win 289 electoral votes in 2004.  He won 286.  In 2006, EP picked the GOP to lose the House and correctly called every Senate race.  Despite my own conservative ideology, the site projected a solid victory for Barack Obama in 2008, correctly picking 48 out of 50 states.

In 2010, Election Projection's House projections were closer than any other major prognosticating website. EP predicted Republicans would bag a net of 64 new seats, a monumental shift in the balance of power.  When all the votes were counted, they had gained 63.

Two years ago, Election Projection enjoyed its best presidential prediction year to date, correctly projecting every state except Florida.  In addition, EP's Senate performance was 31 out of 33, and I missed just one gubernatorial election that year.

2014 Election Projection Summaries
For this year's election cycle, Election Projection is back with plenty of useful features.  You can check out easy-to-read summary pages of the 2014 Senate elections, the 2014 House elections and the 2014 gubernatorial races which offer you at-a-glance overview of the state of the 2014 elections, complete with colorful red and blue maps.

Open Seats and Primary Dates
If your looking for primary election dates or open seat races, Election Projection has you covered. 

Individual Race Pages
You can also get detailed information on each race I track using EP's handy 2014 Elections on Demand tool at the top of each page.  Each race page contains an election timeline, candidate list, current patisan make up of that state's national delegation and state government and projection data which allows you to see how I arrive at my projections.  As an example, check out the North Carolina Senate Election page.

2014 Election Polls
Want polling data?  Use the same on demand tool to track the polls for all the races as well.  Or you can check out the Latest Polls on everything from President Obama's job approval to generic congressional preference polls to the latest polls on the Mississippi primary runoff election to lots of surveys forecasting the Senate, House and gubernatorial races that interest you most.

The site is updated daily except Sunday with new polls and new projection numbers.  I believe you'll find Election Projection to be informative, exciting and fun as Election Day approaches, and I hope it will become an indispensible election resource.  Once again, thanks for stopping by!

posted by Scott Elliott at 3:45pm 06/03/14 :: link
A rush of polls released today out of Michigan results in two races moving in different directions.  First, two different surveys, one from Detroit News and the other from EPIC-MRA, give Democrat Gary Peters 5 and 6-point leads, respectively, over Republican Terri Land in their open seat battle for departing Democratic Senator Carl Levin spot in the 2014 Michigan Senate election.  These polls move the Election Projection from Weak DEM Hold to Mod DEM Hold.

Meanwhile, in the Michigan Governor election, the Detroit News poll shows Republican incumbent Governor Rick Snyder with a 45-35 lead over his likely Democratic opponent, former Congressman Mark Shauer.  The 10-point margin is exactly in line with the new Election Projection for the race and results in a rating change from Mod GOP Hold to Strong GOP Hold.

posted by Scott Elliott at 9:01pm 05/28/14 :: link
The Florida primary is still over two months away, but the two major party candidates are all but decided.  Democrat, former Republican, former Independent and former Governor Charlie Crist has consistently outperformed incumbent Republican Governor Rick Scott in early Florida Governor polls.  Even after today's SurveyUSA poll giving Scott a two-point lead, Crist is still ahead.

However, based on previous SurveyUSA polls, Scott may be gaining ground.  The last two polls released by the polling firm each gave Crist a three-point edge.  Today's 2014 Florida Governor Election Projection, which includes SurveyUSA's most recent, pegs Crist's advantage at 4.6%, a Weak DEM Gain.

posted by Scott Elliott at 5:57pm 05/28/14 :: link
The automation process has progressed to the point where I can calculate and update official projections on all races in which the two party candidates are known.  Today's numbers reflect the first such update for the 2014 election season.  As I explained yesterday, one of the side-effects of moving to formula-based calculations is the possibility of large shifts in the numbers.  That's what we see today.

In the Senate elections, the Louisiana Senate race and the North Carolina Senate race have switch projected outcomes.  Republican Bill Cassidy is now projected to edge out incumbent Democrat Mary Landrieu in Louisiana while Republican Thom Tillis is now projected to fall just short of unseating incumbent Democrat Kay Hagan in North Carolina.

The House elections is where this initial jumpstart has impacted projections the most.  Democrats have gone from a projected net loss of 2 seats to a projected gain of two.  Four seats sport new colors in today's update.  California CD-52 has moved back to the Democrats.  Colorado CD-6, Iowa CD-3 and New Jersey CD-3 have left the projected GOP fold.

The main reason for this exodus is the current generic congressional polling average and how that number plays into my House race projection formula.  Since Democrats lead this important metric right now, any race labeled a toss-up by all three experts who comprise my pundit panel will be projected to go to the blue team.  This is the case in all four of these races.

Turning our attention to the 2014 gubernatorial races, the switch to EP's official projections has yielded a similar move in the opposite direction.  Thanks to early polling in Hawaii, former Lt. Governor Duke Aiona is projected to win the Hawaii Governor election over incumbent Democrat Neil Abercrombie.  I'm highly dubious that he'll hold that lead until November.  The other gubernatorial projection flip comes from the absolute opposite side of the country.  Incumbent Governor Paul LaPage is now projected to win a three-way Maine Governor election.  This race promises to be a legitimate barnburner.

Now that things are setup here at Election Projection, you can look forward to new updates six days a week between now and Election Day.  I hope you'll enjoy the ride!

posted by Scott Elliott at 10:44pm 05/09/14 :: link
This heartland state is one of the most Republican in the nation.  You have to go all the way back to Lyndon Johnson's massive landslide victory in 1964 to find a Democratic presidential nominee who carried it.  But, interestingly, you don't have to go so far back to find Democrats who have been elected Wyoming's governor.

In fact, for a 26-year period from 1975 through 2011, Wyoming had only one Republican governor.  Dave Freudenthal who served from 2003-2011 was the last Democratic governor of the state.  During the 2010 election season, there was some speculation that he might challenge the constitutionality of Wyoming's term-limits law.  As he had already won election to the office twice, he would have needed a favorable court decision to be eligible to run again.  Such a ruling probably would have come down since the Wyoming Supreme Court has already found the law unconstitutional for state legislators.

In the end, Freudenthal decided against taking the law to court, leaving an open gubernatorial election that pitted former U.S Attorney Matt Mead, a Republican, against state Democratic Party Chair Leslie Petersen.  Four years before, the popular Freudenthal had not only won re-election as a Democrat, he had clobbered his GOP opposition, Ray Hunkins, by 40 points.  2010 would prove a much different story.  The tables were turned on Petersen, and Mead went on to a 40-point win himself.

This year's gubernatorial election in Wyoming promises to be another easy victory for Mead.  No Democrat has yet declared for this race, but a couple first-tier potential candidates could provide some drama, one in particular.  Were Freudenthal to jump in, this race would become more competitive.  The same might be true, to a lesser degree, if two-time congressional candidate Gary Trauner were to announce.

For now, though, no one stands between Mead and an another term as Wyoming Governor.  Well, that's not entirely true.  Wyoming Superintendent of Public Instruction Cindy Hill and Dr. Taylor Haynes are running against Mead in the GOP primary, but they will not seriously contend for the nomination.

Preliminary projection:  Solid GOP Hold

You can track this race throughout the 2014 election season here at Election Projection by visiting the Wyoming Governor Election page for polls, projections and updates.  Also, check out the 2014 Governor Elections page for a summary of all gubernatorial races on tap in 2014 complete with EP's colorful red and blue Governor map.

posted by Scott Elliott at 10:02pm 04/12/14 :: link
GOP Governor Scott Walker holds a singular distinction as the only governor in United States history to survive a recall election.  Two other recalls succeeded in removing Lynn Frazier of North Dakota in 1921 and Gray Davis of California in 2003.  Walker's recall success occurred in 2010, two years after the former Milwaukee county executive defeated Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett to become Wisconsin's 45th governor.

Walker's conservative policies have not engendered warm feelings from unions and other liberal interest groups in the state, so desires to knock him out of office run deep.  On the other hand, the incumbent's aggressive anti-union measures have made him a favorite among conservatives and tea party folks.  The 2014 Wisconsin Governor race is sure to feature intense votes on both sides.

The front runner for the Democratic nomination and the right to face Walker in the general election appears to be Madison Board of Education Member Mary Burke.  Less well known than Mayor Barrett, who was also Walker's opponent in the recall election, Burke probably isn't the kind of strong candidate Wisconsin Democrats would like to have in this marquee gubernatorial contest.

Three polls were taken on this race in the month of March.  They show wildly varying results.  A Rasmussen poll conducted early in the month pegged the contest as a dead even tie, 45-45.  A Marquette University poll released in late March put the incumbent 7 points ahead.  Then came a WPR/St. Norbert poll released early this month giving Walker an overwhelming lead of 16 points, 56-40.

Taken together, these polls indicate an electoral contest tipping toward the incumbent.  I will be eagerly anticipating every bit of news pertaining to this race to see if Walker can once again survive.  My hunch is that he will do just that, probably by a margin similar to his two previous triumphs.  We'll need a couple more polls, given the inconsistent data to date, to see how this race is shaping up 7 months out.

I'm starting this one off as a Weak GOP Hold, but I think it's more likely to stretch to a Mod GOP Hold than for the Democrat to earn the win.  Looking down the road, a Walker victory in 2014 is absolutely critical to any future aspirations he might have to take up residence in a certain White House on the Potomac.  The 2016 GOP presidential field is wide open right now, but Walker happens to be a personal favorite of mine to win the nomination - but he'll have to retain his current residence in the Wisconsin Governor's Mansion first.

Preliminary projection:  Weak GOP Hold

You can track this race throughout the 2014 election season here at Election Projection by visiting the Wisconsin Governor Election page for polls, projections and updates.  Also, check out the 2014 Governor Elections page for a summary of all gubernatorial races on tap in 2014 complete with EP's colorful red and blue Governor map.

posted by Scott Elliott at 10:46pm 04/11/14 :: link
Given Vermont's current progressive ideology, it might be a surprise that Republicans used to be a strong, if not dominant, force in the state.  Remarkably the GOP won every gubernatorial election between 1854 and 1960.  That's over a century!  Since then, Democrats and Republicans have more or less split time in Montpelier.

The last Republican governor, Jim Douglas, served four terms from 2003-2011.  Yes, you read that right - 4 terms, 8 years in office.  The Green Mountain State shares the distinction with New Hampshire as the only two states who conduct gubernatorial elections every two years.  When Douglas decided against running for re-election in 2010, his second-in-command, Brian Dubie threw his hat into the ring.

Early on that year, Dubie held a prohibitive advantage over Democrat Senate President Pro Tempore Peter Shumlin.  However, Shumlin was able to close that gap and, by Election Day, actually won a plurality of the vote.  Since he didn't earn 50% plus 1 vote in the electoral victory, Vermont state law would not allow him to be "officially" elected.  That didn't happen "officially" until the Vermont General Assembly voted 81%-16% to award him the governorship.

Two years later, he had a much easier time getting elected.  Republican Randy Brock, a Vermont state senator and former state auditor, lost in a blowout by 20 points to Douglas.  This year's election promises to be an even easier triumph for the incumbent.  Currently, the only declared candidate is Cris Ericson of the Marijuana Party.  This one should stay in the Democratic column.

Preliminary projection:  Solid DEM Hold

You can track this race throughout the 2014 election season here at Election Projection by visiting the Vermont Governor Election page for polls, projections and updates.  Also, check out the 2014 Governor Elections page for a summary of all gubernatorial races on tap in 2014 complete with EP's colorful red and blue Governor map.

posted by Scott Elliott at 9:53pm 04/10/14 :: link
The 2014 Texas Governor race marks the first truly open statehouse election the Lone Star State has held since 1990.  Coincidentally, that year was also the last gubernatorial election to be won by a Democrat.  A string of five consecutive Republican victories began in 1994 when future President George W. Bush unseated the victor in 1990, Democrat Ann "Ma" Richards.

Governor Bush won again in 1998 and then defeated Vice President Al Gore to become president of the United States in 2000.  Bush's lieutenant governor, Rick Perry, ascended to the governorship that year.  Two years later, Perry won the office in his own right.  He would go on to win two more terms as the Lone Star State's chief executive, mixing in a brief run for president in 2012.

Perry's decision to opt out of a run for another term has left an intriguing, if not exceedingly competitive, race to replace him.  Since the Texas primary elections have been held (on March 4), we already know the party nominees in this contest.  Democrats voted for state Senator and famously single mother Wendy Davis, while Republicans chose Greg Abbott, sitting Texas Attorney General.  Each candidate enjoyed an overwhelming endorsement from their respective parties.

Now that we've entered the general election phase of the campaign, Texas' Republican lean gives Abbott the clear advantage.  I haven't seen any polls on this race since the primaries took place, but two 2014 surveys taken before the primaries put Abbott's lead over Davis in the low double digits.  That margin sounds about right to me.

In a red state like Texas, Davis' task was never going to be easy.  The negative media attention surrounding her divorce probably serve to make that task only harder.  At this point, barring a serious misstep that would disqualify Abbott, Republicans appear headed to another gubernatorial victory in Texas, their sixth in a row.

Preliminary projection:  Strong GOP Hold

You can track this race throughout the 2014 election season here at Election Projection by visiting the Texas Governor Election page for polls, projections and updates.  Also, check out the 2014 Governor Elections page for a summary of all gubernatorial races on tap in 2014 complete with EP's colorful red and blue Governor map.

posted by Scott Elliott at 10:25pm 04/09/14 :: link
When Republican Lamar Alexander defeated Democrat Jake Butcher in 1978 race, he began a pattern in Tennessee gubernatorial elections that remains unbroken to this day.  Every governor elected since then has won re-election to a second term.  And each has succeeded someone from the opposite party.
Tennessee Governor Election Winners since 1978
Governor Party Years Elected Served
Lamar Alexander Republican 1978, 1982 2 terms
Ned McWherter Democrat 1986, 1990 2 terms
Don Sundquist Republican 1994, 1998 2 terms
Phil Bredesen Democrat 2002, 2006 2 terms
Bill Haslam Republican 2010, 2014? 2 terms?
Republican Bill Haslam, the current top executive and a Republican, continued the pattern by winning the office in 2010, succeeding term-limited Democrat Phil Bredesen.  But will he be able to keep it going in 2014?  History says yes - and so do some other factors in the 2014 Tennessee Governor race.

First, and most importantly, is Tennessee ever-reddening ideological makeup.  In a state routinely represented by Democratic senators throughout much of the last century, Vice-president Al Gore's 1990 election victory here marks the last time the blue team has sent someone to the Senate from Tennessee.  And the GOP's dominance in the Volunteer State culminated four years ago when they captured complete control of state government for the first time since 1869.

Second, Democrats struggled to find a first-tier candidate to mount a challenge.  Several state legislators declined a run, including House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh, former State Senator Roy Herron - who chairs the state Democratic Party - and State Senator Jim Kyle, an unsuccessful gubernatorial candidate four years ago.

Finally, while Haslam's approval rating has seen a marked decrease over the last year, down from 68% last Spring, it still sits close to 50%.  In some situations, that number might not instill confidence in an incumbent's chances for re-election.  However, in a Republican state like Tennessee, it signifies he's most likely done well enough to get a second term - and keep that pattern going for another four years.

Preliminary projection:  Solid GOP Hold

You can track this race throughout the 2014 election season here at Election Projection by visiting the Tennessee Governor Election page for polls, projections and updates.  Also, check out the 2014 Governor Elections page for a summary of all gubernatorial races on tap in 2014 complete with EP's colorful red and blue Governor map.

posted by Scott Elliott at 9:04pm 04/08/14 :: link
Former South Dakota Governor Mike Rounds is running for this Senate this year.  Four years ago, Rounds closed out his second term as Chief Executive of the Mount Rushmore State.  He was term-limited that year and therefore barred from seeking a third term.

In the race to replace him, the GOP held a significant advantage.  South Dakota is one of the most Republican states in the nation, and that strong conservative lean pushed Rounds' Lt. Governor Dennis Daugaard to an easy victory over State Senate Minority Leader Scott Heidepriem.

Daugaard is up for re-election in the 2014 South Dakota Governor race, and his prospects look very positive.  In the June 3rd Republican primary, he is facing former State Representative Lora Hubbel.  He should have no problem advancing to the general election where he'll meet either Joe Lowe, who once served as Mayor of Mission Viejo, California, or State Representative Susan Wismer.

The one poll I've seen on the race is a Rasmussen Reports survey from late February which showed Daugaard 40 points ahead of Lowe.  That margin might be a bit high, but the incumbent looks set to enjoy an overwhelming re-election victory.

Preliminary projection:  Solid GOP Hold

You can track this race throughout the 2014 election season here at Election Projection by visiting the South Dakota Governor Election page for polls, projections and updates.  Also, check out the 2014 Governor Elections page for a summary of all gubernatorial races on tap in 2014 complete with EP's colorful red and blue Governor map.

posted by Scott Elliott at 9:13pm 04/07/14 :: link
In a state as red as South Carolina, the race for governor shouldn't be much of a test for an incumbent Republican.  But Nikki Haley, the nation's first female Indian-American governor, can't rest easy.  With approval ratings in the mid-40's, she is a target of Democrats despite South Carolina's conservative lean.

Her opponent in the general election will be Democrat State Senator Vincent Sheheen.  The battle with Sheheen is a rematch of Haley's first gubernatorial election run.  Four years ago, Sheheen showed his mettle as a legitimate statewide candidate by coming within four points of capturing the statehouse.  The near miss was even more noteworthy considering the national Republican wave that year.

But before the general election matchup is settled, Haley must face a surprise primary challenge from former two-term member of the S.C. House of Representatives, Tom Ervin.  The former legislator filed papers to enter the race just 24 hours before the Palmetto State's March 30 filing deadline.  He probably won't threaten the incumbent, but unconfirmed reports indicate he may be ready to spend a lot of his own money to try to make the primary a real race.

We'll assume for now that Haley advances out of the primary with the nomination.  She will once again be the beneficiary of friendly political winds, though time will tell how strong those winds turn out to be.  This is definitely a race to keep an eye on.  With Democrats bracing for potentially massive losses on Capitol Hill, they look to the many governor races on tap this year for good news.  Already projected to gain in the statehouse tally this year, Democrats could find an unexpected prize in South Carolina should Governor Haley stumble on the way to November.

Preliminary projection:  Mod GOP Hold

You can track this race throughout the 2014 election season here at Election Projection by visiting the South Carolina Governor Election page for polls, projections and updates.  Also, check out the 2014 Governor Elections page for a summary of all gubernatorial races on tap in 2014 complete with EP's colorful red and blue Governor map.

posted by Scott Elliott at 10:41pm 04/03/14 :: link
When I look at the political career of Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee, a picture comes to mind of a meandering misfit wandering around the political spectrum looking for a place to fit in.  It's not that Chafee's ideology has changed; he is still liberal-leaning, just as he was when was appointed to the Senate in 1999 as a Republican.  However, his party affiliation has changed - multiple times.

After serving 7 years in the Senate - he won election in his own right in 2000 - Chafee lost his re-election bid in 2006 to current Senator Shelden Whitehouse.  A year after the loss, in September, 2007, Chafee left the GOP and registered as an Independent.  Three years later, Chafee entered the race for Governor of Rhode Island.  He won a three-way race with Democrat Frank Caprio and Republican John Robitaille, becoming the first Independent governor of the state since 1790.

Running the state hasn't been an easy task for Chafee, and he's experienced serious difficulty satisfying his constituency.  Struggling against poor job approval numbers and searching for some re-election momentum, Chafee announced he was switching party affiliation again in May, 2013.  This time, he would try being a Democrat.  He hoped attaching a (D) to his name would help his chances in the 2014 Rhode Island Governor race by giving him the party organization and backing he would not have as a Independent candidate.

The move apparently did not improve his prospects very much, and on September 4, 2013 Chafee announced he would not seek another term in Providence.  His decision increases the likelihood that this governorship will remain in Democratic hands.  Charlie Cook reacted to Chafee's withdrawal by shifting his rating for the race from Toss-up to Lean D.

Two prominent Democrats lead a field of four vying for the Democratic nomination.  State Treasurer Gina Raimondo and Providence Mayor Angel Tavares are in a very close race with Tavares owning a slight 4-point lead in the only poll released so far this year.  On the Republican side, Cranston Mayor Allan Fung looked to be headed to the nomination without challenge until Moderate Party founder Ken Block decided to drop a third-party run and run as a Republican.

Rhode Island is as blue as they come, and the Democratic nominee should prevail in November.  The margin of victory might not compare to Obama's 27.5% rout here in 2012, but I wouldn't be surprised to see it reach double-digits.

Preliminary projection:  Strong DEM Hold

You can track this race throughout the 2014 election season here at Election Projection by visiting the Rhode Island Governor Election page for polls, projections and updates.  Also, check out the 2014 Governor Elections page for a summary of all gubernatorial races on tap in 2014 complete with EP's colorful red and blue Governor map.

posted by Scott Elliott at 8:35pm 04/02/14 :: link
Republican Governor Tom Corbett rode the GOP tsunami of 2010 to victory in this bluish purple state.  His first term has rendered him more black and blue than Republican red, however.  A November Public Policy Polling survey pegged his approval in the state at just 24%, making him the least popular governor among the 43 states polled by the firm.

That number has rebounded somewhat according to a Quinnipiac poll taken in February.  Still, at 36% in the Q poll, his approval remains way underwater.  Early on, Quaker State Democrats sensed an easy takeover opportunity looming, and several high profile candidates jumped in the race.  That field, once numbering nine, has thinned as a front runner has emerged, but four hopefuls remain as of this writing.

Businessman and former Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue Tom Wolf leads Congressman Allyson Schwartz, State Treasurer Rob McCord, and environmentalist Katie McGinty for the Democratic nod.  A Harper Polling survey released in late February put his lead at 26 points over Schwartz with McCord coming in 6 points further behind.  However, Corbett's fortunes appear so dismal that even a few Democrats who are no longer running could beat him according to polling data.

The Quinnipiac poll mentioned already finds something you don't often see in election matchups.  All six Democrats tested came out ahead of the incumbent in the poll.  Moreover, front runner Wolf crushed Corbett by a 19-point margin.  All this signals a statehouse headed for a flip.  I'm starting this race off as a Mod DEM Gain, but it could be worse than that for the red team.

Preliminary projection:  Mod DEM Gain

You can track this race throughout the 2014 election season here at Election Projection by visiting the Pennsylvania Governor Election page for polls, projections and updates.  Also, check out the 2014 Governor Elections page for a summary of all gubernatorial races on tap in 2014 complete with EP's colorful red and blue Governor map.

posted by Scott Elliott at 10:34pm 04/01/14 :: link
A Democrat has resided in the Oregon Governor's Mansion since Neil Goldschmidt was sworn in as governor after winning the 1986 gubernatorial election.  Out of all fifty states, only Washington, Oregon's neighbor to the north, can claim a longer current span of Democratic rule.  That fact is consistent with Oregon's presidential voting record.  The last GOP presidential nominee to carry the state was Ronald Reagan in 1980 and 1984.

Clearly, this is fertile ground for Democrats who also hold four of five seats in the House of Representatives and both seats in the Senate.  Topping it off, Democrats control both chambers of the state legislature.  Not a bad environment in which to seek re-election if your name sports a (D) at the end.

Incumbent Democrat John Kitzhaber enjoys that enviable position heading into the 2014 Oregon Governor race.  He should have no trouble maintaining his current address come January, 2015.  His presumed victory here will usher in his fourth term as Oregon governor, despite the Beaver State's two-term limit on governors. 

How can he be in his third term, you ask?  Well, Oregon's law states that no one can serve more than two consecutive terms.  Kitzhaber first won the governorship back in 1994.  He proceeded to win re-election in 1998, and then stepped aside for fellow Democrat Ted Kulongoski to serve a pair of terms.  Kitzhaber then won an unprecedented third term in 2010.  With little standing between him and electoral triumph in November, he also stands to win an unprecedented fourth term this year.

Preliminary projection:  Solid DEM Hold

You can track this race throughout the 2014 election season here at Election Projection by visiting the Oregon Governor Election page for polls, projections and updates.  Also, check out the 2014 Governor Elections page for a summary of all gubernatorial races on tap in 2014 complete with EP's colorful red and blue Governor map.

posted by Scott Elliott at 9:50pm 04/01/14 :: link
Four years ago, Oklahomans would likely have elected Democrat Brad Henry to a third term were it not for the Sooner State's law limiting governors to two terms.  That's noteworthy because Oklahoma is one of the most Republicans states around.  Henry won his first gubernatorial election in 2002 when conservative independent Gary Richardson took 14% of the vote.  Republican Steve Largent, former NFL great, could not overcome losing that much of the conservative vote, and lost to Henry by less than one percent.

Henry proved worthy of the victory, however, and quickly earned widespread popularity in the state.  By the time the 2006 election rolled around, Henry was unbeatable, coasting to a 2-1 landslide win over Republican Ernest Istook.  The Democrat ended his time in Oklahoma City with approval ratings at 70%.

With Henry not eligible, Oklahoma returned to its customary Republican voting habits in 2010 and elected Mary Fallin, a former lieutenant governor and congresswoman.  Fallin became Oklahoma's first female governor.  Interestingly, the primary results made it inevitable that a woman would be elected as Democrats also nominated a woman, Brad Henry's Lt. Governor Jari Askins.  The general election wasn't much of a contest, though, with Fallin enjoying a 21-point rout.

Now, heading into the 2014 election season, Fallin looks very difficult to beat.  Perhaps Sooners just love their governors, but Fallin's approval ratings are in the same elevated range as former Governor Henry's.  She does not face a primary challenge and should not be threatened by likely Democratic nominee Joe Dorman.  Look for Fallin to score another lopsided win.

Preliminary projection:  Solid GOP Hold

You can track this race throughout the 2014 election season here at Election Projection by visiting the Oklahoma Governor Election page for polls, projections and updates.  Also, check out the 2014 Governor Elections page for a summary of all gubernatorial races on tap in 2014 complete with EP's colorful red and blue Governor map.

posted by Scott Elliott at 11:50pm 03/31/14 :: link
John Kasich, the Republican Governor of Ohio, was the most unpopular governor in the nation back in September, 2011 according to Public Policy Polling.  For much of his first term, Kasich appeared doomed to a one-term stay in Columbus like the man he unseated, Democrat Ted Strickland, in the red wave election of 2010.

Then Ohio's economy began to turn around.  NPR recently explored Kasich's rising fortunes, describing the reason behind his resurgence.

Kasich inherited an $8 billion budget shortfall, and now the state is running a surplus and talking about another round of income tax cuts.  Ohio lost nearly 400,000 jobs in the four years before he took office, and has gained nearly 240,000 jobs since.
That's good news for his re-election chances.  However, in a battleground state like Ohio, any incumbent trying to keep his place in the Governor's Mansion is likely to face a tough race.  Kasich certainly is no different.  Charlie Cook has rated this contest "Lean R" while Stuart Rothenberg envisions an even tighter race, labeling it "Toss-up/Tilt R"

The presumed Democratic nominee is Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald.  He'll be the one trying to move this race from red to blue this year.  Early signs indicate he may be having trouble generating the momentum he'll need to score a takeover here in November, however.  Fundraising hasn't yet been at a level to compete with Kasich, and some Republicans claim that shows Kasich to be less vulnerable than some may have thought.

Still, in this famously purple state, Kasich is far from a place without concern over his quest for a second term.

Preliminary projection:  Weak GOP Hold

You can track this race throughout the 2014 election season here at Election Projection by visiting the Ohio Governor Election page for polls, projections and updates.  Also, check out the 2014 Governor Elections page for a summary of all gubernatorial races on tap in 2014 complete with EP's colorful red and blue Governor map.

posted by Scott Elliott at 8:23pm 03/31/14 :: link
Elections in New York are quite unusual with respect to political party nominees.  The Empire State is one of eight states that allows candidates to run as the nominee of multiple parties.  Unlike archaic laws that stay on the books for years after becoming obsolete, the practice is a constant aspect of elections here cycle after cycle.

For example, in 2010, New York's incumbent governor, Democrat Andrew Cuomo, ran as nominee of the Working Families Party and the Independence Party in addition to being the Democratic Party nominee.  His Republican opponent, Carl Paladino, also represented three political parties - Republican, Conservative and Taxpayers.

New York is one of the bluest states in the nation, and Cuomo breezed to an easy election that year, staking claim to 63% of the vote.  Paladino came in well behind at just 34%.  Interestingly, over 10% of Cuomo's vote (300,000 votes) and nearly 20% of Paladino's (258,000) came from their minor party lines on the ballot.

The incumbent's re-election bid in the 2014 New York Governor race promises to be a mere formality as most agree he is a shoo-in for a second term.  Cuomo's strength may be motivating first-tier potential candidates on the Republican bench to decline a challenge.  Currently, the only Republican to declare his candidacy is Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino.

After a double-digit victory last November in an area where Democrats enjoy a 2-1 advantage, Astorino can boast some cross-party appeal.  However, it will take a minor miracle for that appeal to translate onto the statewide stage against a popular governor who sits on an enormous war chest of some $33 million as of January, 2014.  Cuomo need not worry.

Preliminary projection:  Solid DEM Hold

You can track this race throughout the 2014 election season here at Election Projection by visiting the New York Governor Election page for polls, projections and updates.  Also, check out the 2014 Governor Elections page for a summary of all gubernatorial races on tap in 2014 complete with EP's colorful red and blue Governor map.

posted by Scott Elliott at 5:18pm 03/29/14 :: link
Republican incumbent Governor Susana Martinez has enjoyed enviable approval ratings during periods of her first term in Santa Fe.  After her first year in office, her approval rose above 50% in this state where Republicans are outnumbered 3-1.  Aided in part by the national exposure she gained by delivering an important speech in the 2012 Republican National Convention, her approval rocketed up into the upper 60s.  And in October, 2012, the Washington Post pegged her as the eighth most popular governor in the nation.

With support like that, she is no doubt assured an easy win in this year's 2014 New Mexico Governor race, right?  Maybe not.  More recent approval polls indicate her popularity has waned some from prior highs (into the 50s), and Public Policy Polling's survey released this week shows her just five points ahead of New Mexico Attorney General Gary King, the front runner for the Democratic nomination. 

Still, Martinez, who is considered a rising star on the national GOP stage, is in good shape for re-election seven months away from Election Day.  Still popular in the state and boasting an overwhelming campaign cash advantage, Martinez will be hard to beat - especially considering that the Democratic nominee will also be running against a Republican wind, the force of which remains to be seen.

Preliminary projection:  Strong GOP Hold

You can track this race throughout the 2014 election season here at Election Projection by visiting the New Mexico Governor Election page for polls, projections and updates.  Also, check out the 2014 Governor Elections page for a summary of all gubernatorial races on tap in 2014 complete with EP's colorful red and blue Governor map.

posted by Scott Elliott at 7:10pm 03/28/14 :: link
The Granite state is one of just two states that conduct gubernatorial election every two years.  Coincidentally, New Hampshire's neighbor, Vermont, is the other.  In 2012, four-term Democratic Governor John Lynch didn't run for re-election.  His decision left open what looked to be a competitive statehouse race.

Democrat Maggie Hassan, former New Hampshire Senate Majority Leader, and Republican Ovide Lamontagne, who twice ran previously for statewide office, easily won their respective primaries.  Most polling early on put Lamontagne in the lead by a small margin, but as the summer came to a close that year, Hassan began to see her numbers improve.  By November, she had moved ahead by similarly small margins.

The polls turned out to be accurate in giving Hassan the edge but significantly missed how large that edge had become.  She won the general by over 12 points capturing almost 55% of the vote.  Her victory kept the statehouse in Democratic hands for another term and marked the eighth Democratic triumph in the last nine gubernatorial elections here.

The 2014 New Hampshire Governor race will be held in a more Republican climate than last time, but that probably won't be enough to unseat Hassan.  She enters this election cycle with high approval numbers and no primary challengers.  Add to that the lack of a formidable opponent on the Republican side, and you have the makings of an easy re-election win for the incumbent.

As of this writing, Andrew Hemingway, a GOP activist, is the only Republican currently in the race.  A look at EP's 2014 Primary Election Schedule reveals that the filing deadline for New Hampshire is not until June, so there is plenty of time for someone else to jump in.  Several state legislators, including President of the Senate Chuck Morse, have been mentioned as potential challengers to Hassan.

Regardless of who ends up running for and winning the Republican nomination, Hassan appears headed for a second term, probably without many sleepless nights.  Early polling gives her overwhelming leads against Hemingway and the others.

Preliminary projection:  Solid DEM Hold

You can track this race throughout the 2014 election season here at Election Projection by visiting the New Hampshire Governor Election page for polls, projections and updates.  Also, check out the 2014 Governor Elections page for a summary of all gubernatorial races on tap in 2014 complete with EP's colorful red and blue Governor map.

posted by Scott Elliott at 11:27pm 03/26/14 :: link
In 2006, Republican Jim Gibbons succeeded two-term Governor Kenny Guinn, another Republican.  Gibbons' first term in Carson City turned out to be his only one.  Shackled by scandal, Gibbons didn't make it out of the Republican primary in 2010.  Former Federal Judge Brian Sandoval likely saved the office for the GOP when he far outpaced the incumbent in a 56% to 27% rout.

With the tarnished Gibbons out of the running, Sandoval went on to defeat Senator Harry Reid's son Rory in the general election by a healthy 12 point margin.  The size of Sandoval's victory can be attributed somewhat to the Republican wave which spanned the nation in 2010.  Fortunately for Sandoval, his re-election bid falls in another year that looks to be GOP-friendly.

Not that he'll need a tail wind to earn a second term.  Sandoval is well-liked in Nevada and will be a tough out for Democrats.  Politico's recent description of the governor highlights their challenge.

Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval is nearly impossible not to like.  He has a sunny disposition and seems ever eager to work with Democrats, who have nary a bad word to say about him.  He's highly popular in Nevada, with approval numbers in the mid-60s, and he stays on message as well as anyone in politics.
Such high accolades haven't deterred folks from having a go at him, however.  No less than 9 Democrats will fight for the chance to take him on in November.  Sandoval also will face four Republicans in Nevada's June 10th primary.  None has much chance to beat him, either in the primary or the general election.  Look for the incumbent to breeze to re-election here.

Preliminary projection:  Solid GOP Hold

You can track this race throughout the 2014 election season here at Election Projection by visiting the Nevada Governor Election page for polls, projections and updates.  Also, check out the 2014 Governor Elections page for a summary of all gubernatorial races on tap in 2014 complete with EP's colorful red and blue Governor map.

posted by Scott Elliott at 11:49pm 03/25/14 :: link
The Cornhusker state is very Republican.  Yes, it is the first and only state to split its electoral votes based on voting in congressional districts (Obama claimed 1 electoral vote by carrying Nebraska's 2nd District in 2008), but that exception notwithstanding, Nebraska remains deeply red.

This year's Nebraska Governor race will be an easy GOP hold as a result.  Despite having to defend an open chair, Republicans here do not expect to worry much about losing it.  Current Governor Dave Heineman will not be able to seek a third full term due to Nebraska two-term gubernatorial limit.

However, Heineman will have served more than two terms when his current term ends.  In 2005, sitting Governor Mike Johanns left the statehouse to become Secretary of Agriculture in the Bush administration.  Heineman took over as interim governor upon Johanns' exit and then went on to win two elections in his own right.  Johanns would trade his cabinet position for a place in the U.S. Senate in 2008 when he successfully ran for Chuck Hagel's open seat.

With Heineman not eligible, the GOP primary field is crowded with several well-credentialed hopefuls.  Two state senators, Tom Carlson and Beau McCoy join Auditor Mike Foley in the battle for the GOP nomination, but the headliner and front runner is Nebraska Attorney General and former U.S Senate candidate Jon Bruning.  With a commanding lead in the only published poll I could find, Bruning appears to be the likely nominee.

On the Democratic side, a scant field cleared for 2012 Senate candidate Chuck Hassebrook when state Senator Annette Dubas withdrew from the race citing family issues.  With the filing deadline already past, Hassebrook will be the Democratic nominee.  He stands to perform better in the 2014 general election than he did in the 2012 Democratic primary in which he placed second behind Bob Kerrey with just 12% of the vote.  But he has no realistic chance to score a takeover here.

The Republican nominee, barring a major unforeseen catastrophe, will be the next governor of Nebraska.

Preliminary projection:  Solid GOP Hold

You can track this race throughout the 2014 election season here at Election Projection by visiting the Nebraska Governor Election page for polls, projections and updates.  Also, check out the 2014 Governor Elections page for a summary of all gubernatorial races on tap in 2014 complete with EP's colorful red and blue Governor map.

posted by Scott Elliott at 11:46pm 03/24/14 :: link
The current governor of Minnesota has enjoyed one of most striking comeback stories in recent memory.  Mark Dayton, a member of Minnesota's Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, is seeking a second term in the 2014 Minnesota Governor race.  Back in early 2005, winning re-election seemed a most unlikely prospect for Dayton.

He was, at the time, the senior senator from the Gopher State, having beaten Republican Senator Rod Grams in 2000.  But somewhere during his first term in the Senate, Dayton's approval began to fall, and by 2005 it was apparent he would be an easy target were he to run again.  For the good of the party, perhaps among other reasons, Dayton decided to forego a re-election try.  His decision paved the way for Amy Klobucher to ride a Democratic wave into office in 2006.

Fast forward to 2010.  The previous year Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty decided not to seek a third term, leaving a competitive open seat race behind.  Republicans placed their hopes of holding the statehouse on state Representative Tom Emmer.  The DFL picked former Senator Dayton.  The Independent Party selected public affairs consultant Tom Horner.

In a state that elected wrestler Jesse Ventura to the Governor's Mansion, the independent candidate is often an influential force in the outcome of statewide elections - especially gubernatorial ones.  In 2010, Horner received 12% or just over 250,000 votes.  The third-party candidate's take dwarfed the margin between the top two vote getters, Dayton and Emma.  In a very close election, Dayton prevailed by just four tenths of 1%, overcoming a large nationwide Republican wave in the process.

It was a noteworthy victory for Dayton given his prior poor reputation and the prevailing hurricane-force Republican winds.  And his first term has built on that turnaround.  This year, his comeback complete, Governor Dayton is a shoo-in for re-election.

The Republican field is wide open in advance of the August 12 primary election.  Six perspective nominees were included in a Public Policy Polling survey back in October.  The leading candidate in the poll garnered but 12% while a full 44% were still undecided.  But a head-to-head poll taken by SurveyUSA late last month highlights Dayton's enviable position at this point.  The survey gave the incumbent an average lead of 20 points.  His closest competitor, state House Minority Leader Marty Seifert, was 17 points behind according to the poll.

Preliminary projection:  Solid DEM Hold

You can track this race throughout the 2014 election season here at Election Projection by visiting the Minnesota Governor Election page for polls, projections and updates.  Also, check out the 2014 Governor Elections page for a summary of all gubernatorial races on tap in 2014 complete with EP's colorful red and blue Governor map.

posted by Scott Elliott at 6:29pm 03/19/14 :: link
Republican Rick Snyder is struggling under the weight of approval numbers in the low 40's.  He is seeking re-election in the 2014 Michigan Governor race.  Michigan is not a deep blue state, but it's Democratic lean is unmistakable.  As a result, Snyder is in for a tough campaign.  Four years ago, Snyder earned an overwhelming victory over Lansing Mayor Virgil Bernero as the national red wave of 2010 became particularly pronounced in the governor's race here.

Sitting Governor Jennifer Granholm, a Democrat, was term-limited that year.  Even if she could have run, the race would likely ended with the same type of Republican rout because Granholm's approval rating had fallen to dismal levels.  ("It's in the 30's," she was quoted as saying. "I hope it's 30.  But it's low.")

This year, Democrats will try to take advantage of Snyder's low approval to try to reclaim the Governor's Mansion.  A clear primary path for former Congressman Mark Schauer will help them in that quest.  He is polling within single-digits of the incumbent at this point, and Snyder's low-to-mid 40's scores in these early surveys demonstrate his weakness against his Democratic challenger.

However, because Snyder is, so far, maintaining the lead, I am not ready to project this as a takeover just yet.  I'll start Snyder off with a Weak GOP Hold, but, like the Michigan Senate election, I won't be surprised at all to see the gubernatorial race flip to blue before we get to Election Day.

An interesting thing to watch in Michigan this year is how these two races track compared to one another.  The GOP has been encouraged by Terri Land's performance so far in the Senate race.  But her fortunes may be affected by how well Snyder does.  I find it hard to see a scenario where she pulls off an upset in the Senate contest and Snyder loses the statehouse.  So when looking for an indication how that race is going, be sure to keep an eye on this one.

Preliminary projection:  Weak GOP Hold

You can track this race throughout the 2014 election season here at Election Projection by visiting the Michigan Governor Election page for polls, projections and updates.  Also, check out the 2014 Governor Elections page for a summary of all gubernatorial races on tap in 2014 complete with EP's colorful red and blue Governor map.

posted by Scott Elliott at 10:35pm 03/17/14 :: link
In 2006, Democrat Deval Patrick became the first African-American elected as Governor of Massachusetts and only the second ever elected in the United States.  He won a heated battle that year against sitting Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey who served under future GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney.  Deval followed his 20-point triumph in 2006 with a much narrower re-election victory in 2010.  That year, Republican businessman Charles Baker was unable to unseat Patrick, but he did get within 7 points of the incumbent.

The Bay State does not term limit its chief executive, but Patrick has opted out of a run for a third term in the 2014 Massachusetts Governor race.  In his absence, the front runner in the Democratic primary contest is Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley.  She gained national notoriety in 2010 by losing to Republican Scott Brown in a special senate election to fill the seat of the late Ted Kennedy.

Brown's victory turned out to be a harbinger of the Tea Party's rise in the 2010 elections and the red wave that swept the nation that November.  For Democrats, however, Coakley was viewed as having run a sloppy, unfocused campaign that allowed Brown to sneak away with an upset in the bluest of blue states.  As the likely Democratic nominee in this year's gubernatorial race, I expect Coakley to avoid the same mistake.

The Attorney General's GOP opponent in this race is also pretty well determined.  2010 Republican gubernatorial nominee Charles Baker is back again to vie for the statehouse.  The lone poll testing the two GOP primary combatant show him earning the vote of 64% of those surveyed, far outpacing businessman Mark Fisher's 11%.

It seems the primaries this year will be little more than nominee coronations for Coakley and Baker.  Barring unforeseen circumstances, the general election may prove the same for the Democrat.  Coakley leads Baker by 13 in the latest Suffolk University poll released early last month.  However, it bears mentioning that she led Scott Brown by a full 30% just 4 months before her fateful special election loss to Brown.  I doubt that will happen again, but she will be well-served to keep her eye fixed firmly on the prize this time.

Preliminary projection:  Strong DEM Hold

You can track this race throughout the 2014 election season here at Election Projection by visiting the Massachusetts Governor Election page for polls, projections and updates.  Also, check out the 2014 Governor Elections page for a summary of all gubernatorial races on tap in 2014 complete with EP's colorful red and blue Governor map.

posted by Scott Elliott at 1:25pm 03/07/14 :: link
Democrat Martin O'Malley and Republican Mark Ehrlich fought two battles for the Maryland governorship.  Their first was in the blue wave election of 2006 when O'Malley won by a 53% to 46% margin.  Four years later, despite a big wave favoring Republicans, O'Malley, Maryland's current governor, cruised to a comfortable double-digit victory, 56%-42%.

Because of term limits, Governor O'Malley is ineligible to run in the 2014 Maryland Governor race.  With him out of the running, a mob of governor wannabes has entered the race to succeed him.  So far, six Democrats, five Republicans and a Libertarian have filed to run.

Anthony Brown, Maryland's lieutenant governor, is the front runner for the Democratic nomination.  Recent polling shows him doubling up on his nearest primary competitor, but upwards of 40% of Maryland Democrats have yet to settle on their candidate of choice.

Among Republicans, the primary outlook is much murkier.  A recent Washington Post poll gave at least 10% support to three different candidates, Larry Hogan, David Craig and Charles Lollar, with Hogan leading the field at just 17%.  The poll indicates a wide open contest is in the offing with 57% still undecided.

The general election here promises to be a strong, if not solid, victory for the Democratic nominee, most likely Lt. Gov. Brown.  Maryland is not the deepest blue state the deck, but it does sport a very blue hue.  It would take a major upset for the GOP to earn a take over here against a prominent Maryland Democrat like Brown.

Preliminary projection:  Strong DEM Hold

You can track this race throughout the 2014 election season here at Election Projection by visiting the Maryland Governor Election page for polls, projections and updates.  Also, check out the 2014 Governor Elections page for a summary of all gubernatorial races on tap in 2014 complete with EP's colorful red and blue Governor map.

posted by Scott Elliott at 11:17am 03/06/14 :: link
If any state provides a venue for success for independent gubernatorial candidates, it's Maine.  One need look no further than recent election results to understand.  Since 1994, an Independent candidate has earned at least 20% of the vote in every gubernatorial election except 2002.  Included in that stretch are two elections in which the Independent candidate, Angus King, actually won.  King served as Maine's governor from 1995-2003.  He has since moved on to the Senate where, though he retains the Independent moniker, he caucuses with the Democrats.

After King's departure from the Governor's Mansion, Independent candidates have continued to exert influence on gubernatorial contests.  In 2006, Barbara Merrill, a former state legislator who left the Democratic party in advance of her run for governor, placed a strong third with 21% of the vote.  Four years later, businessman Eliot Cutler launched a bid to win the governorship as an Independent.  He enjoyed even more success than Merrill, coming in a close second to the current Governor of Maine, Republican Paul LePage.  In the three-way race, LePage barely bested Cutler, 38.1% - 36.4%, with Democrat Libby Mitchell lagging behind with just 19.1%

This year, the 2014 Maine Governor Race will feature a rematch of sorts as Cutler is back to contest again for the office.  However, the rematch factor is overshadowed this go around because, unlike last time, Democrats have a very strong contender in the mix.  Congressman Mike Michaud is looking to become the first openly gay Governor in the nation, and early polling suggests he's the favorite to do just that.

Several polls taken in the latter months of 2013 give Michaud leads over LePage in the low single digits with Cutler playing the role of also-ran this cycle.  Given Michaud's popularity in the state and LePage's tendency to mis-speak, Maine's Democratic demographic makes it particularly difficult for the incumbent.  I'm giving the early nod to Michaud by a slim margin, but don't be surprised to see this one become more lopsided in favor of the Democrat as the election season progresses.

Preliminary projection:  Weak DEM Gain

You can track this race throughout the 2014 election season here at Election Projection by visiting the Maine Governor Election page for polls, projections and updates.  Also, check out the 2014 Governor Elections page for a summary of all gubernatorial races on tap in 2014 complete with EP's colorful red and blue Governor map.

posted by Scott Elliott at 11:11pm 03/03/14 :: link
The last Democratic presidential nominee to carry Kansas was Lyndon Johnson way back in 1964.  During that same 50-year period, however, four of the eight elected governors of Kansas were Democrats, including Kathleen Sebelius who went on to a cabinet post in the Obama administration.  If we include her lieutenant governor, Democrat Mark Parkinson, Sebelius' successor, there have actually been more Democratic occupants of the Governor's Mansion than Republicans over the last half-century.

Nevertheless, Kansas remains a deeply Republican state, and former Senator Sam Brownback's 31-point rout in the last gubernatorial election here four years ago is a reflection of the difficulties Democrats face this year as they try to get back to Topeka.  After winning a special Senate election in 1996 to replace GOP presidential nominee Bob Dole, Brownback cruised to two overwhelming Senate election triumphs in 1998 and 2004.  He decided to forego a third term in the Senate in 2010 in favor of becoming Kansas' 45th chief executive.

Given his past electoral success, one might believe Brownback is a shoo-in for re-election in the 2014 Kansas Governor race.  No doubt he is a prohibitive favorite, but the potential for a somewhat competitive race is lurking if certain political forces align just right between now and November.  Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia describes Brownback's potential vulnerability.

In some ways, Kansas is a three-party state.  Though dominated by Republicans, the state has both moderate and conservative GOP wings, and the centrist Republicans and Democrats will sometimes effectively work together to block the conservative Republicans. [..] Brownback has governed as a staunch conservative, and he led a primary purge of moderate Republicans in the state Senate, including the Senate president, during the 2012 primary season.  Democrats, and some moderate Republicans, are rallying around House Minority Leader Paul Davis (D) against Brownback, and some limited polling suggests Brownback is at least potentially vulnerable.
At the end of the day, I don't think Brownback will be seriously threatened by Davis.  He might not enjoy his customary victory margin in the 30s or more, but he'll be serving a second term as Kansas governor come January 2015.

Preliminary projection:  Strong GOP Hold

You can track this race throughout the 2014 election season here at Election Projection by visiting the Kansas Governor Election page for polls, projections and updates.  Also, check out the 2014 Governor Elections page for a summary of all gubernatorial races on tap in 2014 complete with EP's colorful red and blue Governor map.

posted by Scott Elliott at 10:35am 02/27/14 :: link
The Hawkeye State primary isn't until June 3, but the general election combatants are all but finalized.  Incumbent Governor Terry Branstad will be the Republican nominee.  Though he does have a primary opponent, a Public Policy Polling survey indicates he is in no danger of losing.  The PPP poll puts Branstad up by an enormous 70-11 lead over Tom Hoefling, a staunch conservative who help found America's party in 2008 and ran for president that year as the party's nominee.

Hoefling's name recognition is only 12% which may help explain his very low level of support 4 months away from the primary.  However, I don't think Branstad will have to worry about him being a serious threat even once he has made his case to Iowa Republicans.  That wasn't the case four years ago when Branstad had to run hard to prevail in a competitive primary battle with uber-conservative businessman Bob Vander Plaats. 

He went on in 2010 to win the statehouse by unseating unpopular Governor Chet Culver, a Democrat.  His victory marked the fifth for him in an Iowa gubernatorial election.  He had served four consecutive terms from 1983-1999.  If he wins again in the 2014 Iowa Governor race, it will extend his record tenure in Des Moines.

The Democrat who appears almost certain to win the opportunity to deny him a sixth term is state Senator Jack Hatch.  As late as December, however, Hatch's path to the nomination wasn't so clear.  Two Iowa state Representatives, one current, one former, were also waging legitimate bids for the Democratic nomination.  But then, within a span of two weeks, both dropped out of the race.

Sitting state Representative Tyler Olson announced the end of his campaign on December 17 in the wake of his separation from his wife.  Then on January 2, Bob Krause, a former state Representative who had hoped to gain the most from Olson's exit, also bowed out and threw his support behind Hatch.

With little resistance to either Branstad or Hatch looming in the primaries, we can look forward to November.  Iowa has long been a battleground state ideologically, with Republicans and Democrats claiming their fare share of Senate and gubernatorial electoral victories.  In fact, since 1990, Republican Chuck Grassley and Democrat Tom Harkin have each won four Senate elections and Republicans and Democrats have split the 6 gubernatorial elections.  That means in the last quarter century, the two parties are 7-7 in the top three statewide elections.

This year, the open seat election to replace the retiring Harkin promises to be the more competitive of the two races on the Iowa ballot.  Democrat Bruce Braley is the favorite in that race, but his prospects are more in doubt than Branstad's in the statehouse race.  PPP's latest offering gives Braley an average lead of 7 points over his prospective GOP challengers while Branstad has a more comfortable 12-point edge over Hatch.  That margin seems about right.

Preliminary projection:  Strong GOP Hold

You can track this race throughout the 2014 election season here at Election Projection by visiting the Iowa Governor Election page for polls, projections and updates.  Also, check out the 2014 Governor Elections page for a summary of all gubernatorial races on tap in 2014 complete with EP's colorful red and blue Governor map.

posted by Scott Elliott at 11:25pm 02/25/14 :: link
In states where one party or the other enjoys a substantially larger slice of the electorate, presidential and senatorial candidates from the minority party rarely have much of a chance of winning statewide races.  Republicans in Maryland or New York, for example, probably won't be sending a senator to Capitol Hill anytime soon.  Likewise, the Democratic presidential nominee won't be winning any electoral votes from Idaho, Utah or Wyoming.

Statehouse races, however, do not always reward the majority party with a victory.  In the last decade, Kathleen Sibelius served as governor of Kansas, Brad Henry won two terms in Oklahoma, and Phil Bredensen took up residence in Tennessee's Governor's Mansion.  They are all Democrats running deep red states.  On the other end of the spectrum, Republicans Linda Lingle, Chris Christie, George Pataki and Jim Douglas have steered the Democratic bastions of Hawaii, New Jersey, New York and Vermont, respectively, over the same period.

The 2014 Illinois Governor race may provide another instance of the minority party winning a state's chief executive office.  Democrat Pat Quinn is struggling with low approval numbers, and Illinois is struggling under the dubious distinction of owning the worst credit rating of any state in the nation.  And the GOP is salivating at what they perceive to be an excellent opportunity to install a Republican as the next governor.

The primary race to decide who that Republican will be promises to be an interesting and exciting - and expensive - contest.  And with Illinois' primary set for March 20, the race is well underway.  Four legitimate GOPers are in the running for the nomination - Illinois State Senators Bill Brady, who narrowly lost the gubernatorial election to Quinn four years ago, and Kirk Dillard, Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford, and businessman Bruce Rauner.

Using a largely self-funded barrage of ads over the last few months, Rauner has leapfrogged the field and now stands as the favorite.  According to the latest poll, a Chicago Tribune/WGN-TV survey released earlier this month, Rauner boasts a huge 20 point lead over Brady, his nearest competitor.  The early primary date means the other three candidates in the race have little time to make up the deficit.

Assuming Rauner wins the nomination, a recent WeAskAmerica poll indicates he would start the general election campaign in the lead.  In fact, Gov. Quinn has been polling behind the Republicans in this race since November of last year.  The only favorable poll result for the incumbent was a three-point lead in a November Public Policy Polling survey against, ironically, Rauner.  But that lead has turned into an eight point deficit according to the WeAskAmerica poll taken January 30.

Such a result should make it easy to project a Republican takeover at this point.  However, given Pat Quinn's reputation as a tough campaigner who is difficult to close the deal against, I am wary of painting Illinois red.  My hunch is that Quinn will prevail on Election Day, even though he may be trailing in the polls for much of the campaign season.  That said, the reality of the projection business requires me to pick who would win "if the election were held today."  With the limited data on hand, that winner would probably be Bruce Rauner...for now.

Preliminary projection:  Weak GOP Gain

You can track this race throughout the 2014 election season here at Election Projection by visiting the Illinois Governor Election page for polls, projections and updates.  Also, check out the 2014 Governor Elections page for a summary of all gubernatorial races on tap in 2014 complete with EP's colorful red and blue Governor map.

posted by Scott Elliott at 10:43am 02/24/14 :: link
Butch Otter, Republican, is serving the last year of his second term as Governor of Idaho.  Back in December 2011, Otter announced plans to run for a third term in Boise.  Since Idaho has no term limit on governors, Otter is eligible for another four years.  If he were successful in winning in the 2014 Idaho Governor race, he would be the first governor to serve three consecutive terms in Idaho since Robert Smylie way back in the 1950's and 60's.

Since Idaho is one of the very most conservative states in the nation, Otter's prospects are rosy.  However, there is one small detail that remains undone.  Apparently, the incumbent has yet to file for candidacy.  (I could not find confirmation that he has filed to run anywhere, and when I tried to go to his campaign website I received an HTTP error)  It's probably just an eventuality that hasn't yet come to pass, and I will assume for our purposes here that he will indeed run.  He is certainly raising money like a man seeking office - as of the end of last year, he had raised just shy of $1 million.

Though his path to re-election is relatively smooth, that doesn't mean there aren't challengers in his way.  First, in the GOP primary, he'll have to contend with State Representative Russ Fulcher.  The Idaho legislator has shown strong fundraising ability himself by bringing in $250k in the 10 weeks following his mid-October campaign kickoff.  Fulcher will try run to Otter's right, but I don't see him seriously threatening the incumbent.

On the Democratic side, the blue team will look to Boise School Board of Trustees President A.J. Balukoff or former State Senator Bert Marley to do battle against Otter in the general election.  As this is a largely uncompetitive race in a sparsely populated state, polling is understandably scarce - non-existent as a matter of fact.  Nevertheless, I feel confident in predicting an Otter nomination in the May 20 primary and a GOP rout on Election Day.

Preliminary projection:  Solid GOP Hold

You can track this race throughout the 2014 election season here at Election Projection by visiting the Idaho Governor Election page for polls, projections and updates.  Also, check out the 2014 Governor Elections page for a summary of all gubernatorial races on tap in 2014 complete with EP's colorful red and blue Governor map.

posted by Scott Elliott at 10:09pm 02/19/14 :: link
The Aloha State, home state of President Barack Obama, is one of the most Democratic in the nation if ideology is judged by presidential vote.  Since Ronald Reagan's landslide win in 1984 in which he carried 49 of 50 states - including Hawaii - only Democrats Michael Dukakis in 1988 and John Kerry in 2004 failed to win Hawaii by less than 10 points.  And Obama's status as homeboy resulted in blowout routs of 45% and 42% in 2008 and 2012, respectively.

In the Senate, the results have been similar - if not even more tilted toward the blue team - with Senators Daniel Akaka and the late Daniel Inouye dominating each Hawaii Senate election between 1990 and 2010.  Neither Daniel remains in the Senate, but if Mazio Hirono's 25-point open seat cakewalk in 2012 and this year's solidly Democratic Senate election are any indications, Democrats will maintain their dominance for the foreseeable future.

There is one office that Hawaii Democrats don't enjoy such lopsided advantages - the Governor's Mansion.  That's mainly due to one woman, Republican Linda Lingle.  After narrowly losing to incumbent Governor Benjamin Cayetano by just over a point in 1998, Lingle went on to win two terms as Hawaii's chief executive, serving from 2002 through 2010.  Though she was restricted from running for a third term in Honolulu, Lingle was free to go after a seat in the Senate.  In 2012, she did just that, entering the race for retiring Senator Akaka's open seat.  Despite her success in statewide gubernatorial elections, she lost badly to the aforementioned Hirono.

The open statehouse election she left behind in 2010 featured two prominent Hawaii political figures, Lingle's Lt Governor Duke Aiona, Jr., Republican, and Congressman Neil Abercrombie, Democrat.  Aiona proved to be no match for Abercrombie as the Democrat captured one of many partisan statehouse takeovers that year.

Fast forward four years to the 2014 Hawaii Governor race.  At first glance, Abercrombie would appear to be an easy re-election bet.  He's a Democrat from a deep blue state who is currently presiding over an improving state economy and a record budget surplus of $844 million.  However, despite those favorable factors, Hawaiians largely disapprove of his job performance.  And a recent poll has provided startling evidence of the incumbent governor's poor standing.

Just this week, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser and Hawaii News Now released a survey giving former Lt. Governor Aiona an eye-popping eight-point lead over Abercrombie.  (Coincidentally, Aiona has recently announced plans to mount a gubernatorial election rematch in 2014.)  The same poll put Abercrombie's approval at just 43% and gave him an unsettling single-digit edge over his strongest primary opponent, State Senator David Ige.

Clearly, Abercrombie is struggling right now with his constituents.  However, one poll does not a trend make and he still has time to benefit from Hawaii's improving economy.  As University of Hawaii Assistant Political Science Professor Colin Moore has said:

He's still beating David Ige in the primary.  He shouldn't be overly concerned.  There's still a lot of time left.
Assuming he survives the primary and goes on to face Aiona in the general, I believe he stands a very good chance of winning - despite being 8 points behind in that one poll.  That said, I don't believe this race will be the kind of trouncing Democrats have become used to here, Ms. Lingle notwithstanding.

Preliminary projection:  Mod DEM Hold

You can track this race throughout the 2014 election season here at Election Projection by visiting the Hawaii Governor Election page for polls, projections and updates.  Also, check out the 2014 Governor Elections page for a summary of all gubernatorial races on tap in 2014 complete with EP's colorful red and blue Governor map.

posted by Scott Elliott at 10:53pm 02/18/14 :: link
When Sonny Perdue was elected Governor of Georgia in 2002, he became the first Republican to assume the office since Reconstruction.  After winning again in 2006, Perdue was unable to seek a third term in 2010 because of Georgia's two-term limit on governors.  He left behind a crowded, competitive primary field vying to replace him.

Secretary of State Karen Handel took the plurality of the primary vote, coming in with just over 34%.  Her share outpaced runner-up Nathan Deal, at the time a GOP Congressman from Georgia's ninth district, by 11%.  Due to Georgia's primary runoff electoral system, Handel and Deal advanced to a head-to-head partisan showdown.  In the time between the primary and the runoff, Deal was able to close the gap with Handel and ended up prevailing by less than one half of one percent to take the GOP nomination.

In the general election of 2010, Deal faced Democrat Roy Barnes, a popular former Governor himself.  Like Deal, Barnes had launched his gubernatorial run, in 1998, after earning a seat in the U.S House of Representatives.  Georgia's transition from blue to red was unmistakable on Election Day that year as Deal marched to an impressive 10-point win over a formidable opponent.

That deep red hue of the Peach State should serve Deal well in the 2014 Georgia Governor race as he seeks re-election.  He does face some primary opposition but should have little trouble retaining the GOP nod.  On the other side of the aisle, a man with a familiar last name could end up being his general election challenger.  That man is Georgia State Senator Jason Carter.

Yes, he is related to Jimmy Carter.  Jason is the former President's grandson.  Unfortunately for him, the political landscape of Georgia has changed radically in the 40+ years since his grandfather took residence in the Governor's Mansion after his victorious 1970 gubernatorial campaign.  He'll have plenty of name recognition from the outset of this race, assuming he wins the Democratic nomination (he's the only declared Democrat at this writing), but it won't be enough to seriously threaten Deal in what promises to be a rather easy run to a second term.

Preliminary projection:  Solid GOP Hold

You can track this race throughout the 2014 election season here at Election Projection by visiting the Georgia Governor Election page for polls, projections and updates.  Also, check out the 2014 Governor Elections page for a summary of all gubernatorial races on tap in 2014 complete with EP's colorful red and blue Governor map.

posted by Scott Elliott at 8:18pm 02/17/14 :: link
In 2010, Republican Rick Scott won two close elections on his way to the Florida statehouse.  He had to survive first a heated primary battle with former Congressman Bill McCollum - which he did by a slim 3-point margin - before moving on to face the Democrat, Florida's Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink.  She had enjoyed a much easier path to the November ballot, cruising to the Democratic nomination with almost 77% of the primary vote.

The gubernatorial race that year was an open seat election, but the sitting governor at the time wasn't retiring from politics.  He wasn't even sitting out the election.  Instead, then-Republican Charlie Crist threw his hat into a different ring, launching a bid for the open Senate seat held by interim GOP Senator George LeMieux.  (Crist had appointed LeMieux a year earlier after Mel Martinez's resignation in August 2009.)

Scott went on to win the general election against Sink by a very narrow 49% to $8% count, and Crist ended up losing badly to Republican Marco Rubio as an independent candidate in three-way race.  Democrat Kendrick Meek also ran in that race but ended up with just 20% of the vote to come in third.

Now, four years later, Crist, wearing the blue team's jersey, is back attempting to reclaim the governorship he voluntarily relinquished in 2010.  Never a very conservative kind of guy, Crist officially switched to the Democratic Party on December 7, 2012.  He is the front runner among a crowded field vying for the Democratic nomination.  Though he is the heavy favorite to prevail in the August 26 primary, Florida State Senator Nan Rich will provide a legitimate intra-party opponent.

On the Republican side, Governor Scott should earn the GOP nomination once again.  However, he hasn't been quite the darling of the Right as evidence by the seven declared Republicans running against him.  Still, it looks right now very much like a Rick Scott - Charlie Crist matchup in the general.

Polls taken so far measuring a Scott/Crist contest show the Democrat with the early lead.  A University of Florida survey released in January put Crist advantage at 7 points, 47-40.  Since both men are already well-known quantities to Florida voters, early polls are probably more predictive of the actual result than in other election scenarios.  So, while there are plenty of months left for the numbers to move one way or the other, Crist looks to me to be the true favorite in this race.

Preliminary projection:  Weak DEM Gain

You can track this race throughout the 2014 election season here at Election Projection by visiting the Florida Governor Election page for polls, projections and updates.  Also, check out the 2014 Governor Elections page for a summary of all gubernatorial races on tap in 2014 complete with EP's colorful red and blue Governor map.

posted by Scott Elliott at 8:18pm 02/15/14 :: link
The 2010 gubernatorial election in Connecticut was one of the closest in the nation percentage-wise and the closest in terms of raw votes.  Democrat Dan Malloy nosed out Republican Tom Foley by just 6404 votes in an election not without controversy.  The town of Bridgeport ran out of ballots having ordered just 1 for every 3 registered voters in the city.  The poor planning prompted a Superior Court ruling that kept polling places in Bridgeport open two hours past the normal statewide closing time.

As a result of the extended hours, Bridgeport's votes were not counted until after the rest of the state's.  And before they were included, Foley was just over 8000 votes ahead of Malloy.  That lead vanished after all the votes were counted, and though the final vote count was razor close, Malloy was declared the winner.  On November 8, Foley quenched any controversy by conceding the race and commenting that "the election [..] was a conclusive victory for Dan Malloy, and this result should not be questioned."

Since Connecticut's outgoing governor, Jodi Rell, was a Republican, Malloy's victory was a Democratic takeover.  In a very Republican election, his victory represented one of the few bright spots for the blue team.  Now, four years later, Malloy faces the challenge of running once again in a less-than-ideal political climate.  Had Malloy been on the ballot in 2012, his re-election might have been much easier than it promises to be this year.

Another aspect of the 2014 Connecticut Governor race that might resemble his last gubernatorial campaign could be his Republican opponent.  Tom Foley announced last month that he will seek a rematch with the incumbent.  His entry enlarges an already crowded GOP field, and, if a Quinnipiac poll from last summer still holds true, he immediately runs to the front of the pack.  That June 2013 poll gave Foley a 25-point edge over Connecticut State Senator John McKinney, his nearest competitor.  It will be interesting to see how the polls look in the coming weeks now that Foley is officially running.

Moving on to the general election matchup, I would put Malloy's chances of retaining residency in the Governor's Mansion at a little better than even-money odds.  This battle will be close, but I give the incumbent the upper hand right now.

Preliminary projection: Weak DEM Hold

You can track this race throughout the 2014 election season here at Election Projection by visiting the Connecticut Governor Election page for polls, projections and updates.  Also, check out the 2014 Governor Elections page for a summary of all gubernatorial races on tap in 2014 complete with EP's colorful red and blue Governor map.

posted by Scott Elliott at 9:32pm 02/13/14 :: link
For much of the last decade, Democrat John Hickenlooper served as mayor of Denver.  So popular was he in the city that he won re-election with 87% of the vote in 2007.  The year before, he had been mentioned as a possible candidate in the open gubernatorial race to replace term-limited Republican Governor Bill Owens, and a year later he was thought to be Democratic Governor Bill Ritter's first choice to replace Senator Ken Salazar who vacated the seat to take a cabinet position in President Obama's administration.

Neither position materialized for Hickenlooper; he declined to run for governor in 2006 and was passed over for the Senate seat in favor of Denver Public Schools Superintendent Michael Bennet in 2008.  When the 2010 gubernatorial race rolled around, Hickenlooper stated he would step aside again if Secretary Salazar decided to run.  Salazar opted out, and instead endorsed Hickenlooper. 

On the Republican side that year, a disruptive primary season made it difficult for GOP nominee Dan Maes conduct a credible challenge to Hickenlooper.  Enter U.S. Representative Tom Tancredo.  The outspoken Republican Congressman had warned that he would enter the race as an American Constitution Party candidate if the Republican nominee was behind in the polls to Hickenlooper after the primary and refused to drop out of the race.

When Maes fell behind in the polls and would not relinquish his candidacy, Tancredo proved true to his word and launched a campaign that quickly became the strongest challenge to Hickenlooper.  In the end, however, Tancredo would fall woefully short.  Though Hickenlooper barely surpassed 50%, the divided opposition vote carried him to a 15% margin of victory.

First two years of Hickenlooper's first term, it appeared as though he would have no trouble earning an additional four years in the Colorado Statehouse.  However, his stellar approval numbers began to slide as a result of a couple of controversial decisions.  He didn't win many friends when he signed into law several pieces of gun control legislation and further damaged his reputation by granting a stay of execution to convicted mass murderer, Nathan Dunlap.

Despite those marks against him, Hickenlooper, though no longer flying as high, is still well-positioned going into this year's 2014 Colorado Governor race.  Early polling gives him the edge by 5 to 10 points over all the candidates in the crowded GOP field.  Coincidentally, the front runner for the GOP nomination happens to be the Republican turned Constitution Party turned Republican Tom Tancredo.

The conservative Tancredo, who harbors strong stances on illegal immigration, had a 19-point edge over second-place Scott Gessler in an early December poll conducted by Public Policy Polling.  If Tancredo is able to earn the GOP nod and if the national mood come November is decidedly Republican-leaning, Tancredo could possibly unseat the incumbent.  For now, though, Hickenlooper is the clear favorite.

Preliminary projection:  Mod DEM Hold

You can track this race throughout the 2014 election season here at Election Projection by visiting the Colorado Governor Election page for polls, projections and updates.  Also, check out the 2014 Governor Elections page for a summary of all gubernatorial races on tap in 2014 complete with EP's colorful red and blue Governor map.

posted by Scott Elliott at 10:43pm 02/12/14 :: link
The incumbent governor of our nation's largest state, Democrat Jerry Brown, took some time off between his second and third terms.  Twenty-eight years to be exact.  Brown won his first gubernatorial election in California way back in 1974, a close contest in which he barely eclipsed the 50% mark.

In 1976, while in the midst of his first term, Brown entered the race for the Democratic presidential nomination.  Though he lost the nomination to the eventual president, Jimmy Carter, he enjoyed some success garnering 14% of the national Democratic primary vote.  Only Carter won a larger share.

Two years later, he would win re-election to the statehouse in a 20-point blowout.  The 1.35-million vote rout was the largest gubernatorial victory margin in California history up to that point.  Brown's second term saw another attempt to win the Democratic nomination in 1980.  But this time he was forced to bow out well before the convention.

In 1982, Brown decided to run for the open Senate seat in California rather than a third term in Sacramento.  He would lose a 7-point decision to Republican Pete Wilson.  Interestingly, Wilson would go on to serve two terms as governor in the 1990s.  Brown's defeat in that Senate election could have marked the end of his political career, but the enduring former governor had other ideas.

He surfaced on the national stage again in 1992 when he began his third attempt to win the Democratic nomination for president.  Regarded initially as nothing more than an also-ran, he emerged mid-campaign as Bill Clinton's most serious primary threat.  Clinton would go on to win the nomination, but Brown's delegate count on the first ballot at the convention would be second only to the future President.

Back in California, Democrat Gray Davis would succeed Pete Wilson in Sacramento by scoring a resounding electoral victory in 1998.  His re-election victory four years later would be much closer, and he would not survive his second term.  On October 7, 2003, Davis would become only the second governor in United States history to be recalled.  On the same ballot, strong man and movie superstar Arnold Schwarzenegger, running as a Republican, won the chance to take his place.  And in 2006, The Governator successfully defended his title in California's next regular gubernatorial election.

During this time, Brown was not sitting idle.  He was elected mayor of Oakland in 1998 and Attorney General of California in 2006.  By 2010, with Schwarzenegger term-limited, Brown decided it was a good time to go for a third term as governor.  The decision proved fruitful as his battle with eBay CEO Meg Whitman earned him a convincing 13-point victory in a race that was competitive early on.

With all that history covered, we reach the 2014 California Governor race.  You might wonder why I decided to trace last 30+ years of California's gubernatorial elections as part of this preview.  My answer is simple.  To me, it is much more interesting than the actual election will be this year.  Governor Brown is sitting pretty for a fourth term.  The only noteworthy aspect of this race is the spectacle of the jungle primary California instituted two years ago.

Instead of traditional partisan primary elections, the Golden State holds an all-in-one primary in which candidates of all parties vie for votes from the entire California electorate.  That election will be held on June 3.  The two leading vote-getters, one of which is sure to be Brown, will advance to meet each other in the general election.  Currently, the incumbent enjoys overwhelming lead in the polls, an indication of his easy path to re-election.

Preliminary projection:  Solid DEM Hold

You can track this race throughout the 2014 election season here at Election Projection by visiting the California Governor Election page for polls, projections and updates.  Also, check out the 2014 Governor Elections page for a summary of all gubernatorial races on tap in 2014 complete with EP's colorful red and blue Governor map.

posted by Scott Elliott at 11:43pm 02/11/14 :: link
Democratic Governor Mike Beebe is in the last year of his second term.  First elected in 2006, Beebe is ineligible to run for governor this year due to Arkansas's two-term limit for governors.  That's unfortunate for Democrats because he is one of the most popular governors in the country.  For the entirety of his time in Little Rock, he has enjoyed stellar approval ratings of 66% or more according to the annual Arkansas Poll.

His re-election in 2010 illustrates the extent of his popularity in state.  That year Republicans earned an historic victory nationwide capturing a 63-seat gain in the House and claiming six Senate seats, including the seat held by Arkansas Democrat Blanche Lincoln.  She lost her chance at a third term by over 20 points.  Despite such a large Republican wave, Beebe not only survived that election.  He sailed to a 20-point victory of his own.

With approval rating still in the upper 60s, Beebe would be a shoo-in for a third term.  But term limits have left this race solidly in the tossup category.  Democrats are placing their hopes in Mike Ross, former congressman from CD-4.  Less than a month from the filing deadline, Ross is the only Democrat to have entered the race.  Before retiring from Congress in 2013, Ross established himself as a fiscal conservative who was one of only three Democrats in the House to vote for the repeal of Obamacare.  In a state like Arkansas, a red state getting redder, his more moderate credentials will serve him well this election.

His probable Republican opponents will be Asa Hutchinson.  A former congressman himself and an undersecretary in the George W. Bush administration, Hutchinson is the front runner for the GOP nomination.  He built a solid conservative voting record while in the US House of Representatives and garnered the national spotlight as one of the prosecutors during the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton.

Polls conducted so far in this race show a very close contest.  However, all three surveys that I have seen give Hutchinson a small advantage.  Given Arkansas's rightward trend, that small edge is enough for me to start this race as a projected GOP pickup.  However, like the hotly-contested Senate race here, either party has a good chance to celebrate victory on Election Night.

Preliminary projection:  Weak GOP Gain

You can track this race throughout the 2014 election season here at Election Projection by visiting the Arkansas Governor Election page for polls, projections and updates.  Also, check out the 2014 Governor Elections page for a summary of all gubernatorial races on tap in 2014 complete with EP's colorful red and blue Governor map.

posted by Scott Elliott at 11:22pm 02/05/14 :: link
In January, 2009, then Secretary of State Jan Brewer, a Republican, ascended to governorship after sitting Democratic Governor Janet Napolitano accepted President Barack Obama's invitation to become Secretary of Homeland Security.  The next year, the Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act would thrust her into the national spotlight.

SB1070, as the legislation was also known, became one of the strongest illegal immigration enforcement measures in the nation when she signed it into law in April 2010.  It also became the focal point for a highly-publicized battle between her and the President, setting off many large protest, both for and against, across the nation.

Some observers predicted that such a controversial stand would result in defeat for the fledgling Brewer administration in the 2010 elections.  However, her standing among Arizona voters actually rose in the days and months following the law's passage, and she earned the statehouse in her own right that November by a healthy 12-point margin.

Even though she will have served but one full term by the end of 2014, Brewer is not eligible to serve another term beginning in 2015.  Arizona state law dictates that no governor may serve more than eight consecutive years.  However, should she desire another term in office, the state's law does allow former Arizona governors to seek additional nonconsecutive terms after waiting at least four years.

With Brewer restricted from running, Arizonans will choose a new chief executive this year.  Republicans have a structural advantage due to the state's reddish color, and current Secretary of State Ken Bennett is the front runner at this point to win the nomination.  That doesn't mean he's a shoo-in come November.  Democrat Fred Duval, former Board of Regents Chair, is the probable Democratic nominee, and he is polling surprisingly close to Bennett - and another Republican candidate, State Treasurer Doug Ducey - in a November survey published by Susquehanna.

Given Arizona's Republican tendencies, Duval probably has a very difficult challenge ahead of him.  But he is close enough that a misstep or two by the GOP nominee might give him a fighting chance.  For now, though this race looks to be a GOP hold.

Preliminary projection:  Mod GOP Hold

You can track this race throughout the 2014 election season here at Election Projection by visiting the Arizona Governor Election page for polls, projections and updates.  Also, check out the 2014 Governor Elections page for a summary of all gubernatorial races on tap in 2014 complete with EP's colorful red and blue Governor map.

posted by Scott Elliott at 3:21pm 02/04/14 :: link
The Office of the Governor of Alaska brings one name to most minds these days, and that name is not Sean Parnell, Alaska's current governor.  Of course, it's Sarah Palin, 2008 Republican presidential nominee John McCain's running mate, who resigned the governorship in 2009 amid ethics investigation.

Saying her efforts to defend herself against the charges levied against her made performing the duties of governor almost impossible, Palin handed the statehouse to then Lt. Governor Sean Parnell on July 26, 2009.  While Palin has gone on to be a major force in the Tea Party movement, Parnell has enjoyed some success as the Last Frontier's head honcho.  In 2010, despite a competitive GOP primary that saw him barely cross the 50% mark against five Republican challengers, Parnell breezed to a 21.5% victory over Democrat Ethan Berkowitz to win the governorship in his own right.

Four years later, Parnell is looking good to earn a second full term in Juneau.  His approval ratings are not stellar, but Alaska is a deep red state.  The latest numbers I saw put Parnell's up/down vote at 44% to 42%.  That doesn't mean, however, that Parnell is in any danger of losing re-election.

Polling for this race is still scant, but in a PPP poll release last July, Parnell led Berkowitz in a hypothetical rematch by 13 points.  That might indicate some vulnerability given that his victory over Berkowitz in 2010 was much larger, but so far, that rematch isn't going to happen.  Berkowitz has not entered the race.  If he declines to run, Parnell will face little opposition and will win the 2014 Alaska Governor race going away.

Preliminary projection: Solid GOP Hold

You can track this race throughout the 2014 election season here at Election Projection by visiting the Alaska Governor Election page for polls, projections and updates.  Also, check out the 2014 Governor Elections page for a summary of all gubernatorial races on tap in 2014 complete with EP's colorful red and blue Governor map.

posted by Scott Elliott at 11:37pm 02/03/14 :: link
When Republican Bob Riley defeated Democrat incumbent Governor Don Siegelman in 2002, it was the closest gubernatorial contest in Alabama history.  The controversial final margin of 3,000 votes out of 1.35 million cast was only determined after the vote totals from a malfunctioning voting machine were corrected.  Before the correction, Siegelman held the lead, and the Associated Press actually called the race for him.

No such controversy would surround Riley's re-election bid four years later.  He won that election over Democrat Lucy Baxley by almost 16 points.  Ironically, Baxley had to get past Siegelman in the Democratic primary.  She won easily as Siegelman, under indictment for trading government favors for campaign contributions while Governor and Lt. Governor, struggled to mount a credible run.

Fast-forward to 2010.  After two terms in Montgomery, Governor Riley was term-limited and could not run for re-election.  That would not be an issue for the Alabama GOP as the state's ever-reddening makeup provided State Representative Bob Bentley an easy gubernatorial election victory.  He defeated Democrat Ron Sparks, again by almost 16 points.

The 2014 Alabama Governor race promises to be the same kind of comfortable victory for the red team.  Governor Bentley is the overwhelming favorite to earn a second term.  There are other declared candidates in this race - Republican Stacy George, a former county commissioner, and Democrat Kevin Bass, but neither will slow down Bentley's easy cruise to re-election.

Preliminary projection:  Solid GOP Hold

You can track this race throughout the 2014 election season here at Election Projection by visiting the Alabama Governor Election page for polls, projections and updates.  Also, check out the 2014 Governor Elections page for a summary of all gubernatorial races on tap in 2014 complete with EP's colorful red and blue Governor map.

posted by Scott Elliott at 10:20am 01/30/14 :: link
The outlook for statehouse elections across the country in 2014 is a mirror image of the Senate landscape we looked at Wednesday.  While Republicans are excited about the abundance of pickup opportunities on Capitol Hill, Democrats are liking their chances for similar gains among the 36 gubernatorial contests on tap in 2014.  The current statehouse tally stands at 29 Republican governors to 21 Democrats.  However, as is the case in the Senate, the majority party has more states to defend next year.

Twenty-two Republican governorships are up for re-election this cycle, including two open seats.  That leaves just fourteen for the blue team with three open seats.  Moreover, Republicans find themselves in very competitive races in the large battleground states of Florida, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania, four highly-coveted gubernatorial prizes representing 83 electoral votes.  One year out, the chance that the GOP will be able to hold all four seems small and the chance it could lose all four is very real.

For Democrats, the vulnerabilities lie in smaller states - with the one glaring exception of Illinois.  Outside the Land of Lincoln, there are but three Democratic governorships, representing just 17 electoral votes, that I would currently classify as highly competitive (AR, CT, RI).  In terms of raw numbers, Democrats need five more states to earn a majority of governorships.  That is probably a more likely outcome than a Republican takeover of the Senate, but not much more so.  Right now, The Blogging Caesar sees the Democrats improving their statehouse total to 23 or 24.

However, with those big states up for grabs, Democrats stand a better chance to earn the majority in terms of population.  Currently, the 29 statehouses held by the GOP translate to 56% of Americans who live in a state with a Republican governor.  If Democrats were to hold Illinois and capture the big four I mentioned above, they would claim states with 61% of all Americans.  Even if they don't win them all or if they lose some of their own next year, it's easy to see how a majority of Americans are likely to call a Democrat their governor once the winners take office in early 2015.

Next week, I'll begin posting previews of individual races, starting with the Senate contests.

Filed under:  2014 Gubernatorial Races 
posted by Scott Elliott at 8:26pm 11/08/13 :: link
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