Governor 2006 Forecast
by Jonathan Singer, Tue Aug 29, 2006 at 09:44:43 AM EDT
Overall: Republicans currently control most governorships, with 28 of the nation's 50 governors being members of the GOP. But this year it appears extremely likely that the Democrats will capture a majority.
Thirty-second forecast: I currently forecast the Democrats netting between two and seven governorships in November. States in which the Democrats are favored to pick-up the governorship are New York, Ohio, Massachusetts, Arkansas, Maryland and Colorado, with Rhode Island currently rated as a toss-up. Republicans are not favored to pick-up any Democratic governorships, though four -- Iowa, Michigan, Wisconsin and Maine -- are currently projected as toss-ups. If the current national winds prevail, I predict the Democrats holding their contested governorships and picking up all seven aforementioned GOP-held governorships yielding a total of 29 Democratic Governors and 21 Republican Governors.
- 1. New York. (Democrats: Eliot Spitzer and Tom Suozzi). This race is by far the clearest pick-up opportunity for either party this cycle. The Democrats have yet to settle on a candidate (the primary is set for September 12), though it appears that either Attorney General Eliot Spitzer or Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi would to defeat GOP nominee John Faso handily. Given the margin by which Spitzer, who is a near shoo-in for the nomination, is predicted to prevail in the general election, some New York Democrats are even discussing the possibility of taking over the state Senate for the first time in decades.
Latest primary polls: Marist (LV), Spitzer 70 - Suozzi 17, August 23; Quinnipiac (LV), Spitzer 78 - Suozzi 15, August 23.
Latest general polls: Marist, Spitzer 67 - Faso 23, August 23; Quinnipiac, Spitzer 65 - Faso 17, August 23.
- 2. Ohio. (Democrat: Ted Strickland). Republican Governor Bob Taft, whose approval rating has not reached 20 percent since even before he became the state's first sitting governor to be indicted, is term-limited this fall, but that's not stopping him from dragging down his party's chances in this fall's gubernatorial contest between Secretary of State Ken Blackwell and Congressman Ted Strickland. Strickland, who spoke at length with MyDD back in January, has consistently led in the polling over Blackwell, a fierce conservative who gained infamy and notereity for his partisan handling of the 2004 presidential election in his state. No survey, with the exception of Zogby's interactive online polls, has pegged Strickland's lead at fewer than 11 points since the spring, leading this blogger to view this race as a solid takeover possibility for the Dems.
Latest polls: Rasmussen Reports: Strickland 57 - Blackwell 32, August 22; SurveyUSA, Strickland 57 - Blackwell 35, August 7.
- 3. Massachusetts. (Democrats: Chris Gabrieli, Deval Patrick and Tom Reilly). While the race for the Democratic nomination between businessman Chris Gabrieli, former Assistant US Attorney General Deval Patrick and state Attorney General Tom Reilly is rather fluid at this point with no candidate holding a clear lead heading into the September 19 primary, what is clear is that Massachusetts is a prime pick-up opportunity for the Democrats. Republican Governor Mitt Romney saw the writing on the wall and decided that a tough reelection bid would not help his chances in the 2008 presidential primaries (it was not clear that he would even win a second term), so the GOP nomination went to Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey. In recent polls, Healey has failed to be able to crack 30 percent against any Democrat and independent candidate Christy Mihos, indicating that Republicans should lose their first gubernatorial election in the state since 1986.
Latest primary polls: University of New Hampshire's Survey Center, Patrick 31 - Gabrieli 30 - Reilly 27, August 27; SurveyUSA, Patrick 34 - Reilly 30 - Gabrieli 30, August 21; Suffolk University, Gabrieli 32 - Patrick 24 - Reilly 20, August 21.
Latest general polls: Suffolk University, Gabrieli 46 - Healey 25, Reilly 38 - Healey 29, Patrick 38 - Healey 30, August 21; Rasmussen Reports, August 12.
- 4. Arkansas (Democrat: Mike Beebe). This race is very close to the borderline between "Leans Democratic" and "Likely Democratic."Some even rate it as a better pick-up possibility for the Democrats than Massachusetts, as might I were it not for a pair of Rasmussen Reports polls that may or may not be outliers. The general consensus among pollsters today is that Democratic Attorney General Mike Beebe has a good chance of defeating former GOP Congressman Asa Hutchinson and succeeding term-limited Republican Governor Mike Huckabee, who is likely running for president in 2008. The only question now appears to be what the margin of Beebe's lead is.
Latest polls: ORA, Beebe 52 - Hutchinson 31, August 22; Rasmussen Reports, Beebe 45 - Hutchinson 41.
- 5. Maryland (Democrat: Martin O'Malley). Maryland's Republican Governor Robert Ehrlich is almost certainly the most endangered incumbent this cycle. Although he is not terribly unpopular, neither is he terribly popular either. In an anti-incumbent and anti-GOP environment and a fairly blue state, Ehrlich is going to have significantly more trouble with Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley than he did in 2002 against then-Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend. And while Ehrlich is sitting on an impressive warchest, he has been unable to crack 43 percent in any head-to-head polling against O'Malley since winter, so O'Malley has a slight, though clear advantage.
Latest polling: Rasmussen Reports, O'Malley 50 - Ehrlich 43, August 18; Public Opinion Strategies, Ehrlich 41 - O'Malley 41, August 14.
- 6. Colorado (Democrat: Bill Ritter). Former Denver District Attorney Bill Ritter appears to have the "Big Mo" in Colorado, consistently polling ahead of GOP Rep. Bob Beauprez in the race to succeed term-limited Republican Governor Bill Owens. Some rate this race as a better pick-up opportunity for the Democrats than Maryland (here and here), but my feeling is that an incumbent in the low 40s is more endangered than a candidate for an open seat -- even if that candidate is a sitting member of Congress. Nevertheless, given the polling from Colorado and the general trend in the state towards the Democrats, Ritter should be considered the favorite in this race.
Latest polling: SurveyUSA, Ritter 50 - Beauprez 40, August 17; Rasmussen Reports, Ritter 48 - Beaprez 39, August 14.
- 7. Rhode Island (Democrat: Charlie Fogarty). Given that there are competitive races for both the Senate and the governorship in Rhode Island this year, there sure isn't a lot of Beltway chatter the state. On the governor's race, in particular, few are discussing the possibility that Republican incumbent Don Carcieri will fail in his matchup with Democratic Lt. Gov. Charlie Fogarty. Polling from this blue state shows that Carcieri's approval rating has fallen below 50 percent and him tied with Fogarty in the low 40s leaving this race up in the air at this point.
Latest polling: Rasmussen Reports, Carcieri 43 - Fogarty 43, August 9.
- 8. Alaska (Democrat: Tony Knowles). This race showed a lot of potential given the candidacy of former Democratic Governor Tony Knowles, the sub-20 percent approval rating of Republican Governor Frank Murkowski. But now that Murkowski is out having lost badly in the GOP primary to former Wasilla mayor Sarah Pallin, this race leans Republican.
Latest polling: Rasmussen Reports, Pallin 51 - Knowles 38, August 8.
- 9. Nevada (Democrat: Dina Titus). This race has not yet completely gelled, though Republican Congressman Jim Gibbons appears to have a distinct advantage over the Democratic leader of the state Senate, Dina Titus, in the race to succeed Republican Governor Kenny Guinn, who is term-limited. The Titus certainly has a shot -- Nevada is as close of a state as they come and the progressive grassroots in the state is strong -- but the numbers at present show it will be an uphill climb for the Democrats to wrest control of the governor's mansion away from the Republicans.
Latest polling: Mason-Dixon, Gibbons 46 - Titus 35, August 10; Rasmussen Reports, Gibbons 46 - Titus 37, August 7.
- 10. California (Democrat: Phil Angelides -- ActBlue). After all of the conservative ballot measures forwarded by Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger failed in November 2005, it appeared that the "governator" was headed for sure defeat in his reelection bid. But Schwarzenegger repented, apologizing to voters and hiring high profile Dems, and has seen his approval rating increase markedly since. Schwarzenegger's numbers aren't great, but they could be enough to put him ahead of Democratic state Treasurer Phil Angelides, who has had trouble cracking 40 percent in recent polls (and who spoke at length with MyDD over a year ago).
Latest polling: SurveyUSA, Schwarzenegger 52 - Angelides 38, August 28; Rasmussen Reports, Schwarzenegger 47 - Angelides 41, August 1; PPIC, Schwarzenegger 43 - Angelides 30, July 26; Field Poll, Schwarzenegger 45 - Angelides 37, July 25.
- 11. Minnesota (Mike Hatch). Earlier this year, this race seemed fairly tight, with Democratic Attorney General Mike Hatch actually leading incumbent Republican Tim Pawlenty in a number of polls. But Pawlenty's approval rating has inched up in recent months and he now holds a healthy, though not assured lead in his head-to-head matchup against Hatch. The Democratic primary will occur on September 12, which could provide some favorable coverage for Hatch, but currently Pawlenty has the edge.
Latest polling: Rasmussen Reports, Pawlenty 46 - Hatch 36, August 7.
- 12. Florida (Democrats: Jim Davis and Rod Smith). This race is still fairly open at this point, with neither party having yet selected their nominees (the primary is on September 5). Nevertheless, Democrats have had real trouble in statewide elections in Florida in recent cycles and even the certain reelection of Democratic Senator Bill Nelson does not appear to have the force to make a sufficient impact on the governor race.
Latest primary polling: Insider Advantage, Davis 35 - Smith 21, Crist 39 - Gallagher 29, August 25; Survey USA, Crist 60 - Gallagher 31, August 24; Schroth, Eldon & Associates, Davis 35 - Smith 21, Crist 50 - Gallagher 26, August 12.
Latest general polling:Rasmussen Reports, Crist 47 - Davis 42, Davis 44 - Gallagher 41, Crist 48 - Smith 35, Gallagher 45 - Smith 40, August 1.
- 13. Georgia (Democrat: Mark Taylor). The approval rating of Republican Governor Sonny Perdue is fairly strong, but Democratic Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor appears to have at least some shot at victory (though how good of a shot remains to be seen).
Latest polling: Insider Advantage, Perdue 49 - Taylor 32, August 23; Strategic Vision (R), Perdue 54 - Taylor 41, August 23.
- 14. Alabama (Democrat: Lucy Baxley). Like Georgia, Alabama has a fairly popular Republican Governor who is being challenged by his Democratic Lt. Gov. In this case, Democrat Lucy Baxley faces up against Republican Bob Riley in a contest that favors the latter.
Latest polling: Rasmussen Reports, Riley 55 - Baxley 35, August 8.
- (In alphabetical order, by state): Jodi Rell in Connecticut, Linda Lingle in Hawaii, Butch Otter in Idaho (filling an open seat), Dave Heineman in Nebraska, Mark Sanford in South Carolina, Mike Rounds in South Dakota, Rick Perry in Texas (though the race should be interesting with two strong independent candidates), and Jim Douglas in Vermont.
- 1. Iowa (Democrat: Chet Culver -- ActBlue). Democratic Governor Tom Vilsack, who is not running for reelection, has a passable approval rating, but that hasn't abated the anti-incumbent party feeling from hitting Iowa this year as Democratic Secretary of State Chet Culver takes on Republican Congressman Jim Nussle. For a state as closely watched as Iowa, there is a surprising dearth of polling on the gubernatorial race, but the data currently available indicates rather clearly that this race could go either way at this point. It is noteworthy that this, a toss-up, is the Republicans best pick-up opportunity when several seats currently held by the GOP are leaning towards the Democrats.
Latest polling: Rasmussen Reports, Culver 41 - Nussle 38, August 1.
- 2. Michigan (Democrat: Jennifer Granholm). Earlier this month, earlier this summer, Democratic Governor Jennifer Granholm appeared headed for defeat, at least in part due to the weak state of Michigan's economy. But Granholm got a second wind and began campaigning hard against Amway heir Dick DeVos -- and spending big bucks. Now the race seems to be tilted in her favor ever so slightly, though it still could go either way.
Latest polling: Strategic Vision (R), Granholm 48 - DeVos 43, August 28; EPIC-MRA, Granholm 49 - DeVos 42, August 23; SurveyUSA, Granholm 47 - DeVos 47, August 22; Rasmussen Reports, Granholm 47 - DeVos 46, August 16.
- 3. Wisconsin (Democrat: Jim Doyle -- ActBlue). Democratic Governor Jim Doyle, whose approval ratings have settled in the high 40s, is facing a stiff challenge from Republican Congressman Mark Green. While Green is no doubt a strong candidate for the Republicans, he was not necessarily their strongest, with former Gov. Tommy Thompson having flirted with another bid earlier this year. What's more, Green is running as a GOP Rep. in a year in which the Republican Congress is not terribly popular. Doyle appears to have an edge, though he has yet to crack the 50 percent mark against Green. As such, this race is still a toss-up.
Latest polling: Rasmussen Reports, Doyle 49 - Green 41, August 20; Strategic Vision (R), Doyle 45 - Green 44, August 18; Research 2000, Doyle 48 - Green 38, August 17.
- 4. Maine (Democrat: John Baldacci -- ActBlue). Like Michigan and Wisconsin, Maine is a blue state in which the Democratic Governor has been unable to climb above a 50 percent approval rating. But also like Michigan and Wisconsin, the Democratic Governor in Maine has seen his approval rating move up noticeably in recent months. There are a great number of undecideds in the race between John Baldacci and Republican state Senator Chandler Woodcock, which does not bode well for Baldacci, but even the slightest of Democratic breezes this fall could propel Baldacci to a second term.
Latest polling: Rasmussen Reports, Baldacci 43 - Woodcock 42, August 22.
- 5. Illinois (Democrat: Rod Blagojevich). Questions surrounding the ethics of Rod Blagojevich's administration are causing some hearburn for Democrats in Illinois -- but not enough to make them panic over the possibility of losing the governorship this year. Blagojevich is working hard to paint Republican state Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka as excessively close to President Bush, a tactic that appears to be working. This race is far from over, but the incumbent clearly has the edge.
Latest polling: Rasmussen Reports, Blagojevich 45 - Topinka 37, August 10.
- 6. Oregon (Democrat: Ted Kulongoski -- ActBlue). Oregon's Ted Kulongoski is another Democratic Governor who appeared to be on track for defeat earlier in the year only to find himself leading in his race for reelection. In fact, there were questions as to whether or not he would even be able to gain renomination, with two other relatively strong candidates running in the Democratic primary. Kulongoski has hit the hustings hard and won reelection, and over the past two months he has bumped up his net approval rating by bringing his net approval rating by an impressive 24 points. Kulongoski may have dodged a bullet when the increasingly progressive state Sen. Ben Westlund dropped his indie bid for governor, leaving Republican Ron Saxton and a handful of minor party candidates in the race. This contest leans Democratic and is moving in that direction as well.
Latest polling: Rasmussen Reports, Kulongoski 49 - Saxton 35, August 22.
- 7. Arizona (Democrat: Janet Napolitano). Republicans in Arizona do not appear to have an answer to the highly popular Democratic Governor Janet Napolitano. There are a few Republicans who are running in the September 12 primary, but none of them appear able to beat Napolitano. Nevertheless, until the GOP field is winnowed down and we see if the Republican nominee gets some bounce in this somewhat red state, this race remains on the map.Latest polling: Rasmussen Reports, Napolitano 52 - Goldwater 37, Napolitano 53 - Munsil 35, August 2.
- 8. Pennsylvania (Democrat: Ed Rendell -- ActBlue). Republicans thought they had finally found their match for popular Democratic Governor Ed Rendell when they recruited former Steelers wide receiver Lynn Swann as their candidate, but polling shows Swann is having real difficulty. Unless the dynamic of this race changes -- and fast -- Rendell should walk to reelection.
Latest polling: Rasmussen Reports, Rendell 50 - Swann 38, August 25; Strategic Vision (R), Rendell 51 - Swann 41, August 17; Quinnipiac, Rendell 57 - Swann 38, August 16.
- (In alphabetical order, by state): Kathleen Sebelius in Kansas, John Lynch in New Hampshire, Bill Richardson in New Mexico, Brad Henry in Oklahoma, Phil Bredesen in Tennessee, and Dave Freudenthal in Wyoming.