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2014 Election News

This article was published on Monday, August 11 on  It has been edited for currency

A lot of focus this election season is trained on the battle for Capitol Hill.  And rightly so, with the majority in the Senate up for grabs and Democrats hoping to avoid another harmful midterm election in the House.  But there are also a host of gubernatorial battles being waged this year.  In fact, the midterm elections every four years mark a bonanza of statehouse contests.  Thirty-six of the nation's fifty states will be choosing their chief executive this November.

In 2010, the last midterm election, thirty-seven gubernatorial elections produced a staggering 17 partisan takeovers - 11 by Republicans, 5 by Democrats, and Independent Lincoln Chafee in Rhode Island.  Add to that count several states in which sitting governors were term-limited, decided against running for reelection or lost their primary, and you have a remarkable statistic.  Twenty-six states - over half the states in the country - welcomed a new governor in 2011.

So do we have the same kind of shakeup in store in 2014?  Probably not, but that doesn't mean there aren't plenty of interesting and competitive races to enjoy this year.

Here's a look at a baker's dozen of states which have at least a decent chance of electing a governor from a different party on Election Day.  I've ranked them and categorized them according to their level of vulnerability.

Easy Pickup (1 Republican)

  • 1.  Pennsylvania - Republican Tom Corbett is struggling mightily under approval ratings that make President Obama's numbers look enviable.  Former Pennsylvania Revenue Secretary Tom Wolf is the prohibitive favorite to earn the takeover.

Lean Toward Takeover (2 Democrats)

  • 2.  Arkansas - If Democrat Governor Mike Beebe were free to run for a third term, this race would not be on this list.  As it turns out, however, he is term-limited, and the door is open for a Republican to win the statehouse this year in this ever-reddening state.  Asa Hutchinson, former congressman, is the GOP nominee.  All three polls taken recently give him leads ranging from 3 to 6 points over Democrat Mike Ross, another former congressman.
  • 3.  Hawaii - Democratic Governor Neil Abercrombie had a treacherous re-election path ahead of him.  First, he had to contend with a strong primary challenge from state Senator David Ige.  Then, had he survived, he would have faced a daunting three-way race with Mufi Hannemann, former Democratic Mayor of Honolulu, siphoning off votes as an independent.  But he didn't survive that primary challenge, and now it is Ige who will have a hard time holding this seat for Democrats.  That's because the Republican nominee, former Lt. Governor Duke Aiona, is ahead in the polls.  Despite Hawaii's very deep blue hue, Aiona appears well-positioned to earn the governorship.

True Toss-up (3 Republicans, 2 Democrats)

  • 4.  Illinois - Polls give Republican Bruce Rauner the lead here, but Governor Quinn has a history of finding a way to come out on top.  And deep blue Illinois is not the best place for a Republican, even in gubernatorial races.  Though Rauner currently leads in the polls, I'm not confident in his chances.  One reason: Polls put Republican Bill Brady almost five points ahead of Quinn in 2010.  Quinn won by 0.5%.
  • 5.  Maine - Republican Paul LePage, like Neil Abercrombie, faces a three-way race in his reelection bid this year.  But that's not unusual in a state that has given at least 20% of the gubernatorial vote to an independent in all but one election since 1994.  Democratic Congressman Michael Michaud is LePage's biggest threat, however.
  • 6.  Florida - This race is probably the most visible, anticipated and important statehouse election on this year's slate.  Former Republican Governor Charlie Crist, who ran for the Senate as an independent after losing the 2010 GOP Senate primary to Marco Rubio, later switched to the Democratic Party.  He is now challenging Republican Rick Scott for a ticket back to the Governor's Mansion.  In a major battleground state, this race is truly a toss-up.
  • 7.  Connecticut - Democrat Dan Malloy won the statehouse here in 2010 by less than one point over Republican Tom Foley.  One word tells why this race is on this list in 2014 - rematch.  Connecticut is a blue state to be sure, but Foley's likely nomination gives Democrats a headache in the Nutmeg State.  The latest polls put Foley in the lead, further illustrating Malloy's difficult road ahead.  This one will be close again.
  • 8.  Michigan - In 2010, Republican Rick Snyder capitalized on term-limited Governor Jennifer Granholm's poor approval ratings to score an open seat gubernatorial takeover.  Four years later, Snyder must contend with sub-par approval himself as he faces a strong challenge from former Congressman Mark Schauer.

Lean Toward Hold (4 Republicans, 1 Democrat)

  • 9.  Wisconsin - Scott Walker famously survived a recall election in 2012 by a slightly larger margin than he first gubernatorial win in 2010.  In 2014, the Republican faces another challenge in this Democratic-leaning battleground state.  Educator Mary Burke is the likely Democratic nominee.  Polls show Walker and Burke locked in a very close battle.  Two surveys were released in July.  One gave Walker a one-point lead.  The other had Burke up by the same margin.
  • 10.  Kansas - Even though it is a deep red state, Kansas has a propensity for Democratic governors.  Half of the chief executives elected here since 1966 have been Democrats.  So, it's not terribly surprising to see this race on the competitive list.  What is surprising is that Sam Brownback, who has won two senate races and the 2010 gubernatorial race by an average margin of 36 points, is the vulnerable incumbent.
  • 11.  Georgia - Republican Governor Nathan Deal hopes Georgia's conservative tilt will overcome the name recognition of his Democratic opponent Jason Carter, the grandson of former President Jimmy Carter.  Deal must also overcome the pall of scandal which clouds further his reelection prospects.  For now, he maintains the upper hand, but this race might become a full-fledged toss-up before too long.
  • 12.  Colorado - Democratic incumbent John Hickenlooper enjoyed comfortable leads against a crowded Republican field throughout the primary season.  Recently, however, now that Colorado Republicans have settled on former Congressman Bob Beauprez, he has fallen back into a very close battle.
  • 13.  New Mexico - Republican Susana Martinez made history four years ago becoming the first female Hispanic governor in U.S. history.  This year, she's facing a tough reelection battle against New Mexico Attorney General Gary King.  Though she still enjoys a "Likely R" label from Charlie Cook, a recent Rasmussen poll shows her exactly tied with King, 43-43.

As things currently stand, Election Projection is projecting Republicans to pick up Arkansas, Hawaii and Illinois and Democrats to gain Florida, Maine and Pennsylvania.  That works out to a net change of zero.  However, with so many very close gubernatorial contests out there, I'm sure the map will be in constant flux between now and Election Day.

posted by Scott Elliott at 7:37pm 08/18/14 :: link
The passing of this week's primaries has produced a couple of party switchers in today's Governor projection summary.  But since the parties are the beneficiaries of one switch each, the projected statehouse count remains at 29 Republicans and 21 Democrats.  Four projected pickups by Democrats are offset by the same number of projected GOP pickups.

Today's changes come from Wisconsin and Connecticut.  Republican incumbent Scott Walker is in a tie with Democratic nominee Mary Burke, a Madison educator, for Wisconsin's top job.  As the challenger, Burke gets the benefit of the tie due to EP's tie-breaking policy for Senate and gubernatorial races.

In Connecticut, Republican Tom Foley seems to be having a better go of it this time in his rematch with incumbent Democratic Dan Malloy - at least according to a scant number of recent polls.  The only poll taken since early May in this race is part the suspect CBS News/NYT/YouGov set from last month.  It showed Foley up by 7 points.

posted by Scott Elliott at 5:44pm 08/14/14 :: link
I haven't posted anything in a few days, but that doesn't mean that things aren't happening on the election front.  By way of a programming note, the projections here are updated six days a week, even if I don't include a write-up.  That said, I do have some catching up to do.

Hawaii Governor loses primary
Perhaps the most noteworthy event of the last week came out of Thursday's primary election in Hawaii.  Incumbent Democratic Governor Neil Abercrombie, who I had projected to lose pretty badly to Republican nominee Duke Aiona, Jr., was also losing in the primary polls to Hawaii state Senator David Ige.  The polls proved accurate and Abercrombie is headed out, soundly whipped by a 2-1 margin.

Now that Abercrombie is out and Ige is in, tomorrow's update will include numbers for the Aiona-Ige matchup.  A quick look at the Hawaii governor polls shows Aiona in front of Ige as well, albeit with a smaller advantage.  So the Hawaii governor election projection should stay red on the governor map, barring a fresh poll to the contrary.

Margins of victory at a click of the mouse
I've added a new feature to the summary pages here at Election Projection.  You can now click as directed on the Senate, House and Governor summary pages to see the projected margins of victory for all the races I'm tracking.  Currently there are several Senate and gubernatorial races which haven't finalized party nominees.  Margins of victory will be added as tracking comes online for them.

Congressional generics erase recent rating changes
The aggregate congressional preference polling average moved toward the Democrats today with the release of Rasmussen's latest.  Even though Ras still gives Republicans a 1-point edge, the new poll replaced a Rasmussen survey which showed Republicans up by 4.  As a result, several of the rating changes favoring the GOP which we saw last Monday have reverted to their previous, more Democratic, level.

Primaries on top tomorrow
Three states, Connecticut, Minnesota and Wisconsin, will be holding primary elections tomorrow, and one, South Dakota, will vote in a primary runoff.  After that, there will be just nine states remaining on the primary schedule for 2014.

posted by Scott Elliott at 11:46pm 08/11/14 :: link
The big election news today comes out of Big Sky country.  Interim Senator John Walsh has decided to withdraw from the 2014 Montana Senate election.  Walsh, who was appointed to the Senate after Max Baucus left the seat to become U.S. Ambassador to China back in February, cited the distraction of a plagiarism scandal as the reason for his decision.
Sen. John Walsh said Thursday he is pulling out of the Senate race because his campaign was distracted by the controversy over allegations that he plagiarized a U.S. Army War College research paper.

Walsh, a Democrat, said he decided to drop out of the race.  He had canceled campaign events this week as he and his family discussed what he would do.

His exit has the potential to turn a cakewalk into a toss-up.  Republican Steve Daines has led Walsh in the polls all along.  Election Projection's current projection give Daines a Strong GOP Gain, putting him ahead by 13.7%.

That projection is now very much in limbo.  No doubt all eyes will look to see what former Democratic Governor Brian Schweitzer.  My hunch is that since he didn't enter the race when Baucus stepped down, he probably won't jump in now.  However, if he did decide to run, this race would immediately become a toss-up.  If he doesn't, Democrats could still make a competitive bid to keep this seat by coaxing sitting Governor Steve Bullock to announce.

Until the dust settles, the projection will stay where it is here at EP.  But, I for one, will be waiting with great anticipation to see who steps up to face Daines.

Update:  Schweitzer was quick to decline the chance to run.  From his Twitter account:

I respectfully decline to seek the Senate nomination.  Many thanks to John Walsh & I'll support whoever the next nominee turns out to be.
posted by Scott Elliott at 5:45pm 08/07/14 :: link
I just sent my latest article for  In it, I take a look at the gubernatorial races on tap this year, rankng them by vulnerability.  The Florida race is one I deemed a "toss-up."  Yes, I know, I hate toss-ups.  But for the sake of the article, toss-up will have to do.  Projections?  Never.  Articles?  Sometimes.

Anyway, I mentioned in the article that Florida was a projected Democratic pickup.  Wouldn't you know it?  Before the ink even dried, figuratively speaking, here comes a SurveyUSA poll showing Republican Governor Rick Scott back on top by 2 points over Democratic challenger Charlie Crist.  Since the poll replaces an earlier SurveyUSA offering which had Crist up by 6, today's projection calculation flips the race to Scott.  Moreover, Scott has now led the last three polls testing the race.  Perhaps the incumbent is beginning to cultivate a small lead in this marquee gubernatorial contest.

With Florida back in Republican hands, the projected gubernatorial tally stands at 30 Republicans and 20 Democrats, a net gain of one statehouse for the red team.

Filed under:  2014 Florida Governor Race 
posted by Scott Elliott at 6:17pm 08/06/14 :: link
Earlier this week, I introduced Election Projection's new forum, A Circle of Soapboxes.  Already, many readers have registered and the discussions are well underway.  Here are some of the topics the folks are throwing about: If you have anything to say, I'd love to have you register to the forum and start contributing to the dialog.  Just click here to get your soapbox.
Filed under:  A Circle of Soapboxes 
posted by Scott Elliott at 3:18pm 08/06/14 :: link
The Tarheel State is colored red on today's Senate projection map.  That means Republican Thom Tillis is projected to defeat incumbent Democrat Kay Hagan.  However, the average of polling on this race over the last month comes out to an exact tie.

As I mentioned a while back when the same thing yeilded a projected Democratic takeover in the Georgia Senate election, my policy in the event of a Senate or gubernatorial tie is to give the projection to the challenger. (I do not like toss-ups!)

The switch moves the projected Senate tally to 50 Republicans, 48 Democrats and 2 Independents.  Since both independents caucus with the Democrats and Vice President Joe Biden would cast the tie-breaking vote, Republicans are left one seat short of the majority.

In other news, I want to share again that Election Projection's forum, A Circle of Soapboxes, is up and running.  Already several folks have registered.  I'm sure you have something to say, and EP's forum is just the place to say it.  Your soapbox awaits!  Come register and join in the conversation.  Click here to check it out.

posted by Scott Elliott at 6:55pm 08/05/14 :: link
It has been a long time coming, but I've finally installed and configured a forum here at Election Projection.  Since it is a venue for anyone to express their opinion, I've called it A Circle of Soapboxes.  I hope you'll check it out and join in the conversation.  If you've been with EP long, you'll remember when I used to have comments on my blogposts.  You may also remember that I'm very intent on maintaining a profanity-free environment that is void of any personal attacks.  That same standard will be a part of this new community.

Please take some time to check it out.  I love to have all of you register and start adding to the discussion.  You can click here or on the Forum option in the top menu bar.  Registration is free and easy.  I'm looking forward to reading your opinions on all things political and electoral.  Over time, I'll be continuing to update the forum and add new topics areas where you can create new discussion topics.  It should be perfectly usable right now, but bear with me while I put the finishing touches on it.

Got something to say?  Your soapbox is waiting!

Filed under:  Website Administration 
posted by Scott Elliott at 1:48pm 08/05/14 :: link
August marks another heavy primary month, and the festivities get underway today with voters in four states heading to the polls.  Kansas, Michigan, Missouri and Washington are on tap, but noteworthy primary battles are scarce.  I'm tracking the competitive open seat race in Michigan's 8th District where both parties will choosing nominees in this open seat contest.  The GOP is currently projected to hold onto this seat by a slim margin.
posted by Scott Elliott at 12:20am 08/05/14 :: link
As I mentioned this morning, we had a ton of Senate polls come out last Tuesday that had very little impact on the projections.  Today we see the opposite.  One generic congressional poll has produced no less than 10 ratings changes in EP's 2014 House election projections.  Remarkably, however, none of the changes results in a party switcher, so the projected House tally remains at 233 Republicans and 202 Democrats, a net Democratic gain of one.

On a good note for Republicans, the move in the generics favors the red team.  By extension, all the ratings changes do too.  Time will tell if this shift is just a momentary blip or the start of a red wave that, in all fairness, should be brewing out there.

Filed under:  2014 House Races 
posted by Scott Elliott at 9:29pm 08/04/14 :: link
We're now three months away from Election Day.  The political seas continue to be relatively calm.  Last week, we saw a mountain of polls released by a collaboration between CBS News, the New York Times and the polling firm, YouGov.  Despite a strong showing by Republican Senate candidates in the survey set, the results did not change the projections here at Election Projection.

According to their data, Republicans are poised to earn the Senate majority by a solid 53-45-2 margin.  However, my projections continue to show lesser gains for the GOP.  I think this phenomenon highlights an important aspect of election polling, one that helps EP offer accurate projections - an average of polling data provides the truest picture of the status of the election.

Some have expressed concern over the methodology employed by YouGov.  Fortunately, we have additional data points from which to calculate the projections, and in so doing, we are able to mitigate some of the impact of poorer surveys.  That's not to say YouGov's polls - or anybody else's - are poor, it just means we can absorb some less accurate numbers, usually without serious impact to the projections' calculations.

Filed under:  2014 Senate Races 
posted by Scott Elliott at 9:05am 08/04/14 :: link
Today's polling update has produced one party switcher.  The Senate race in Georgia turned blue here at EP last Thursday.  However, Michelle Nunn's advantage was short-lived.  Landmark Communications, whose July 15th poll put the Democratic nominee ahead by 6 and propelled her into the lead, released another poll today.  Nunn's lead has shrunk to 4 points in this most recent poll, but because of the closeness of the race, the Democrat's edge narrowed enough to flip the projection calculations to Republican nominee David Perdue's favor.

Removing the only projected Democratic Senate pickup returns the projected balance of power in the Senate to 49 Republicans, 49 Democrats and 2 Independents, a net gain of four seats for the Republicans.

Be sure to turn in tomorrow for a big bunch of polls.  CBS News and NY Times have collaborated with YouGov to conduct a boatload of polls surveying Senate and governor races from all over the country.  It'll be interesting to see how these new polls affect Election Projection's numbers.

Filed under:  2014 Georgia Senate Race 
posted by Scott Elliott at 10:20pm 07/28/14 :: link
On Wednesday, I reported Charlie Crist's move ahead of Rick Scott in the Florida governor election.  A day later, SurveyUSA released a poll giving Democrat Paul Davis an eye-popping eight-point lead over Kansas incumbent governor, Republican Sam Brownback in the Kansas governor election.  I'm pretty sure that poll will be shown to be an outlier.  Nevertheless, the result shifted the color of Kansas from red to blue on the 2014 governor election map.  These two flips combine to give Democrats a projected net pickup of 2 governorships, with the projected balance of power moving to 27 Republicans and 23 Democrats.

Late yesterday, Rasmussen released a poll too late to be included in Friday's update.  The survey of the Georgia Senate race, the first since Georgia's primary runoff on Tuesday, puts GOP nominee David Perdue well in front of Democrat Michelle Nunn.  While I don't necessarily disagree that Perdue is ahead - GOP voters should coalesce behind Perdue now that the runoff has passed - I'm skeptical he leads by 6.

The other poll in the projection calculations for this race is a Landmark Communications offering taken on July 15.  It showed a quite different picture of the race - exactly opposite, in fact, with Nunn enjoying a 6-point lead over Perdue.  When I average the two polls together to arrive at the Election Projection for the contest, the calculation reveals a tie.  So why is Georgia still colored blue on today's Senate projection map?

In developing my projection methodology, I have always made it my policy to avoid "toss-ups" in my projections.  As a result, I had to devise a strategy for handling ties.  Because undecideds have a tendency to break toward the challenger in any given race, I have adopted the policy of projecting the challenger in a tied race by 0.1%.  Therefore, Georgia Senate stays blue for the time being.

posted by Scott Elliott at 9:41pm 07/26/14 :: link
Last night's Georgia primary runoff election cemented the GOP nominee, David Perdue, and allowed me to move the 2014 Georgia Senate election from a preliminary projection to an official one.  As a result, Democrat Michelle Nunn is now projected ahead of Perdue thanks to her aggregate 0.5% lead in the last two polls here.  The change reduces the net Republican pickup in the Senate to just 3 seats - 3 short of the mark they'll need to regain the majority.  Today's Senate tally stands at 48 Republicans, 50 Democrats and 2 Independents

The good news doesn't stop there for the blue team.  On the 2014 Governor elections summary page, EP's latest map features a blue Florida, heralding Democrat Charlie Crist's new lead over Republican incumbent Rick Scott.  With this update, the projected Republican gubernatorial majority is reduced by one.  The projected tally stands at 28 Republicans and 22 Democrats

Back on June 10, the projections offered a much different outlook.  Senate Republicans were projected to win six seats and win the majority, while Republicans were also looking at a projected gain in governors of two seats.  Declining GOP fortunes are not indicative of a coming red wave and further bolster my current conviction that 2014 may be a status-quo election.

That said, there is still plenty of time for the GOP to gain momentum - President Obama's dismal approval numbers continue to provide potential fuel for that - but, as things stand now, Democrats must be feeling pretty good about their situation in this sixth-year midterm election.

posted by Scott Elliott at 7:41pm 07/23/14 :: link
David Perdue, cousin of former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue, surprised pollsters yesterday by claiming a narrow victory over Congressman Jack Kingston in the Republican Senate primary runoff.  Kingston led the polls going in by a half dozen, so Perdue's win was unexpected.

Now that the nominees have been decided for both parties, look for this race to increase in intensity.  As one of just two possible Democratic takeovers in the Senate, it was already bound to attract some interest.  However, with Michelle Nunn, the Democratic nominee, polling very well, I'm sure it will garner even more attention both in the state and nationally.

Democrats may be poised to enjoy some success in this red state this year.  Unique circumstances, rather than a long term trend, are more to credit, I believe.  Powerhouse names on both the Senate and governor lines shore up their possibilities, and an ethics investigation in the statehouse helps out, too.  In what should be a strong Republican year, Georgia may turn out to be an unlikely bright spot for the blue team.

Update:  The numbers for this race here at Election Projection will be updated this evening after I post the daily projection update.  The projection currently is still just preliminary.  You can track this race on the Georgia Senate election page, and get a covenient at-a-glance look at all the Senate races on EP's 2014 Senate elections summary page.

Filed under:  2014 Georgia Senate Race 
posted by Scott Elliott at 10:42am 07/23/14 :: link
The GOP senate primary runoff today in Georgia will determine who will run against Democratic nominee Michelle Nunn.  The two Republicans battling for that honor are Jack Kingston, a congressman who represents the Savannah-area 1st district and David Perdue, cousin of former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue.  Primary polling gives Congressman Kingston a small edge just outside the margin of error.

Notably, both Kingston and Perdue have fallen behind Nunn in general election polling.  The Peach State is shaping up to be an expected headache for Republicans this year.  Democrats enjoy a super-heavyweight combo, at least from a name recognition standpoint, with Sam Nunn's daughter on the Senate line and Jimmy Carter's grandson running for governor.

Correction: The post previously and erroneously included Congressman Paul Broun as Kingston's primary opponent. That error has been corrected.

Filed under:  2014 Georgia Senate Race 
posted by Scott Elliott at 11:13am 07/22/14 :: link
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