A Howey/DePauw poll of the race for governor in Indiana released yesterday shows Republican Mike Pene leading 47 percent to 40 percent over Democrat John Gregg. A total of 11 states are holding elections for governor this year, and the other 39 states are not. Republicans hold 26 of those 39 governorships, and if they win eight of the 11 being contested this year, the party will match their historical high of 34 governorships they held in 1921-22. The map shows the safe Democrat race in dark blue and the state Republican races in dark red while the light blue and pink colored states are those leaning to the Democrats and Republicans respectively.
Of the 11 governorships being contested this year, eight of them are held by Democrats and the other three are held by Republicans. The three currently held by Republicans, are Utah, Indiana and North Dakota are widely expected to elect Republican governors this year. There are three states that are expected by most observers of these races to elect a Democrat as governor this year. Those states Missouri, Vermont and Delaware.
Those six states being projected as above gives the Democrats 16 governorships and the Republicans 29 governorships. That leaves only five states for Republican to win, and they will need all five of them to reach the goal of 34 governorships to match the historic record of 34 governorships in 1921-22. Those five states are Montana, North Caraolina, New Hampshire, Washington state and West Virginia. Each of those races will be highlighted below.
New Hampshire: Republican Lamontagne leads in most polls against former state senate majority leader Maggie Hassan. New Hampshire has been historically a Republican state, and after Democrats enjoyed a majority in both houses of the state legislature between 2007 and 2010, Republicans won a landslide in 2010 at the state level and gained more than two-thirds control in both house of the state legislature and all five seats on the governor's council. Essentially, the voters “fired” Hassan as senate leader and aren't likely to promote her to governor after that. Republican Ovide Lamontague will be New Hampshire's next governor.
Montana: This has historically been a very strong Republican state. Democrats have nominated state Attorney General Steve Bullock to face off against Republican nominee, Congressman Rick Hill to replace out-going populist Democrat Governor Brian Schweitzer who is not seeking reelection. This election could be close but Rick Hill will have the edge and become the next governor of Montana.
North Carolina: This has been a competitive and increasingly “purple” state but this race for governor is not. Democrat nominee, Lt Governor Walter Dalton is seeking the governorship and running against 2008 GOP nominee Pat McCrory. All the polls shows McCrory leading and he will easily win this election to become North Carolina's next governor.
Washington: Elections for governor in this state have been quite close, including the infamous 2004 election in which a 261 vote lead for Republican Dino Rossi was turned into a 129 vote lead for Democrat Christine Gregoire after several recounts. A judge declined the Republican legal challenge to the vote count despite finding that 1,678 votes had been illegally cast throughout the state. This year's election is between Democrat Congressman Jay Inslee and Republican state Attorney General Rob McKenna. Polls show this election is very close but McKenna will be the stronger candidate and win on election day.
West Virginia: This is a special election for governor since the former governor, Joe Manchin, was elected to the U.S. Senate as sitting governor. The candidates are interim governor Earl Ray Tomblin, a Democrat, who is running against Republican businessman Bill Maloney. West Virginia has become more heavily Republican and Romney is way ahead of President Obama in this state. Despite all of that, this race leans Democrat.
By winning four of those governorships, the GOP will have 33 total governorships to the Democrats 17. This will give the Republicans one short of a historic majority of the governor seats, as many as they enjoyed in 1921-22 after the 1920 election.