According to today's Real Clear Politics average of polls, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is favored to be reelected over state senator Barbara Buono by 39.3 percent. In Virginia, the only other state to hold an election for governor in 2013, state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli enjoy a statistically insignificant 0.2 percent lead in the RCP average of polls over former DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe. It is more likely, viewing these polls and historical patterns, that both these races will go to the Republican nominees. More often than not, these two governorships are won by the party not holding the White House at the time.
In last year's election, Republicans had a chance to tie a previous record and hold 34 of the nation's 50 governorships. They fell short of that and held 30 of the 50 governorships after the 2012 elections. Retaining the two seats up for election this year will leave that partisan make up unchanged.
In 2014 most of the states, or 35 of them to be exact, will hold elections for governor. While the Republicans regained control of the Congress in the 2010 midterm election, they also regained a majority of governorships as well. Several of those governors elected in the 2010 election seem vulnerable to defeat in their reelection efforts at this time. While it's quite early to take a look ahead to 2014, there are signs already that Democrats would win a sufficient number of these races to regain a majority of the 50 governorships.
In 27 of the 35 states to hold an election for governor next year, it appears likely that the incumbent governor, or at least the incumbent party to hold the seat, will retain that governorship after next year's elections. But eight of the states are worth taking a look at in this early projection of the 2014 elections. Those states are highlighted below.
Arkansas: This one could be the bright spot for Republicans in a year that might well be viewed as a “wave election” benefiting Democrats. Two term Democratic Governor Mike Beebe is term limited and can not seek reelection. The Democrats seem likely to nominate ex-Lt. Governor, and perennial candidate, Bill Halter. The Republican nominee, and likely next governor in the increasingly Republican state, will likely be former Congressman Asa Hutchinson.
Florida: Incumbent Governor Rick Scott has weak approval ratings in the polls while Democrats are showing increasingly stronger support for their likely nominee for governor, former moderate Republican governor-turned-independent then Democrat, Charlie Crist. Scott, a former health care executive who appeared in advertisements opposing ObamaCare sponsored by Conservatives for Patients' Rights and enjoyed strong support from the Tea Party movement in 2010, seems likely to be defeated for reelection in 2014.
Maine: Traditionally a Democratic leaning state, Maine broke course from that direction by election Republican majorities in the two houses of the state legislature and conservative and Tea Party supported Republican Paul LePage as governor. Democrats have a very competitive primary shaping up to choose their nominee, but it seems likely the Democratic leaning of the state will be asserted again in 2014.
Michigan: Another Democratic leaning state to have elected a Republican governor in 2010, Michigan is likely to put a Democrat in office against also. Republican Rick Snyder was elected in 2010 in a close election and appears vulnerable in the polls. While the Democrats have an open primary to choose their candidate, they seem to have a good chance of defeating Snyder next year.
Ohio: Former Congressman and Budget Committee Chairman John Kasich was elected governor three years ago, and his standings in the polls seem to have only declined since. He defeated former liberal Democrat Ted Strickland, who could very well make a comeback and defeat Kasich in the election for governor next year.
Pennsylvania: Republican Tom Corbett won three years ago but appears to be trailing possible Democratic candidates in the polls for next year's election. The Democrats have several candidates running but the winner of their primary is likely to be the next governor of Pennsylvania.
Rhode Island: Former moderate Republican turned Independent candidate Lincoln Chafee won this state's governorship in a three-way race against a Democrat and a Republican in 2010. Democrats look likely to win this seat back.
South Carolina: Conservative and Tea Party supported Republican Nikki Haley was elected governor in 2010 but has faced weak polls numbers since. Democrats are likely to nominee their 2010 candidate who barely lost then, Vincent Sheheen, to face Haley next year. Haley was elected 51 percent to 47 percent over Sheheen in 2010. The Democrats are likely to pick up this seat in 2014.
While the current partisan makeup of the 50 governorships is 30 Republicans, 19 Democrats and one independent, it appears now that Democrats will pick up six net governorships by defeating six Republicans, and losing the seat in Arkansas, while also regaining the Rhode Island seat that is currently held by an Independent. That would leave both parties holding 25 governorships out of 50.
There is a long way to go until 2014 and several other states could come into play before November of next year. Arizona, Iowa and Wisconsin could easily be states that Democrats might target and find opportunities for more gains next year. Odds look good right now that Democrats may control at least 26 of the 50 governorships after the 2014 elections if they can challenge Scott Walker in Wisconsin or Jan Brewer in Arizona, both of which are Republicans.
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