While House and Senate Democrats garner the bulk of the national media attention, many of the best Democratic opportunities this cycle are in races for governor. Republicans start the cycle with a 28-22 advantage in governorships, but they are defending 22 of them while Democrats are defending only 14. In most election cycles, gubernatorial races are insulated from national trends, but this year is looking like a broader call for change up and down the ballot against the GOP. In 1994, Democrats lost the House, Senate, and ten governorships, falling from 29 to 19.
At this point, only a couple of sitting Republican governors appear in imminent danger, but open seats in New York, Ohio, Massachusetts, Arkansas, and Colorado are causing significant headaches for the GOP. In many states, Republicans have been in power for two terms or more and voers are leaning toward making a change. Democrats are defending a competitive open seat in Iowa and a trio of upper-Midwest governors, but the party could survive the cycle without losing even a single seat to the GOP column.
Competitive primaries in Florida, Massachusetts, and Nevada could affect the bottom line, but right now, Democrats seem poised to gain 5-7 governorships, up a bit from our earlier 4-6 target range.
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