Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Predictions: Gubernatorial Races 2010

Most recent updates: 10/29: FL, OR, RI

In 2010 no fewer than 37 states will be holding elections for Chief Executive, and we can expect to see a lot of new faces when oaths of office are administered in 2011. A whole bunch of incumbents be leaving office, but for the most part not because they will lose reelection bids. They will instead by exiting because 17 Governors will be forced out by term limits. Among those being term-limited out of office, we have a remarkable number of Democrats in red states and Republicans in blue states, and thus a lot of races where control of the Governor's office is quite likely to flip to the other party.

Additionally, we'll have elections in five states (Alaska, Arizona, Illinois, New York and Utah) where the incumbent was not actually elected to the office last time around.

The races are categorized as (1.) competitive or at risk of being won by the party out of power, and (2.) unlikely to become competitive. This post will be updated continuously until election day.

Competitive/at-risk races:

Rating: Likely Republican hold 
Republican: State Representative Robert Bentley (Bob Riley term-limited)
Democrat: Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks
(2/3/09) For the Democrats, Congressman Artur Davis will be mounting an historic campaign to become the state's first African-American Governor. It remains to be seen whether Davis will have a realistic chance of winning.
(3/28/10) Curiously, the GOP has failed to recruit a top-tier candidate for this race. This might give Democrats a chance in deep-red Alabama.
(6/9/10) Democrats get a candidate who's won a statewide election. Republicans are headed to a runoff; in their primary, four different candidates each got between 19% and 27% of the vote. But no matter how you slice it, the eventual Republican nominee has the inside track in November.
(8/4/10) State House members don't often get a promotion to Governor, but Robert Bentley will.

Rating: Likely Republican hold
Republican: Sean Parnell (non-elected incumbent)
Democrat: Former State Representative Ethan Berkowitz?
(7/7/09) For reasons only she understands, Sarah Palin is resigning in the middle of her term as Governor. I presume that it's so she can become a full-time celebrity, write a book, do a lot of paid appearances, etc. Anyway, Alaska is a red state, so the GOP has the edge in holding onto this seat next year.
(3/28/10) Parnell has had no trouble winning the approval of the Republican faithful. Calling this race "competitive" is wishful thinking.

Rating: Likely Republican hold
Republican: Jan Brewer (non-elected incumbent)
Democrat: Attorney General Terry Goddard
(2/3/09) Popular Democratic Governor Janet Napolitano did her state party no favors when she accepted a position in Obama's cabinet, as her resignation automatically promoted Secretary of State (and right-wing Republican ideologue) Jan Brewer to the Governor's office.
(12/20/09) Goddard has the inside track in this race, although polls indicate that the GOP could quickly even the odds by nominating someone other than the unpopular Governor Brewer.
(3/28/10) Brewer and Martin are more or less tied for the GOP bid; if Republicans have any sense they'll give it to Martin. He would clearly be the stronger candidate against Goddard.
(5/6/10) It appears that Brewer will get the GOP bid. Polls show Goddard with the lead over Brewer.
(6/26/10) "The majority of the illegal trespassers that are coming into the state of Arizona are under the direction and control of organized drug cartels and they are bringing drugs in." Thanks, Governor Brewer. This remains a very close race.
(8/4/10) Now here's something I hadn't anticipated. There's indication that Governor Brewer's backing of Arizona's xenophobic, unconstitutional anti-immigrant law has boosted her popularity, and she's now in the driver's seat in this election. This state is sick.
(8/25/10) Goddard won the Democratic nomination. There have not been any recent trustworthy polls of his race against Brewer, but there's every indication that his chances aren't good.

Rating: Toss Up
Republican: Businesswoman Meg Whitman (Arnold Schwarzenegger term-limited)
Democrat: Attorney General Jerry Brown
(2/3/09) Left Coast California is likely to elect a Democrat in 2010. I have to wonder if California is ready to elect a Republican who's name sounds like poisoner.
(6/4/09) What a long, strange trip it's been. Thirty-five years after first being elected Governor of California, Jerry Brown is leading in the polls for the Democratic nomination for California's highest office. I saw Jerry Brown speak when he ran for President in 1992. Honestly, I thought he was crazy. Well, maybe you need to be crazy to run what is currently being called America's "ungovernable" state.
(2/14/10) Brown continues to lead in the polls. California may be the one place that's relatively safe from the Republican wave; Whitman is actually taking criticism for not running far enough to the left.
(5/15/10) Whitman has now spent more than $60 million on her campaign and still hasn't managed to sew up the GOP nomination. Even if she gets it, will voters be able to swallow her spend-crazy ways, considering that her plan for California is to slash the state budget?
(6/9/10) Congratulations, Meg. $70 million buys you the nomination.
(8/25/10) Polls still show a small lead for Brown. He'll win if the big picture for Democrats doesn't get any worse.
(9/17/10) Brown isn't running a very good campaign. He needs to turn it around or he's going to lose. Meg Whitman has now spent $119 million of her own money on her campaign, more than any candidate in history. I guess that's what it costs to buy the Governor's office when you have no appeal or merit.
(10/4/10) All of a sudden, Brown seems to be successfully using a rope-a-dope strategy: allowing his opponent to hit him, and waiting for her to tire and make mistakes which he can exploit in a counter-attack. Brown was already pulling even in the polls before Whitman became embroiled in an illegal-immigrant housekeeper scandal; now her campaign seems to be in a pretty bad position.

Rating: Likely Democratic hold
Democrat: Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper (Bill Ritter retiring)
Republican: Businessman Dan Maes
Independent: Former Congressman Tom Tancredo
(1/5/10) Governor Ritter's star may have fallen so far that the chances of Democrats holding onto this seat have actually improved with his departure.
(3/28/10) Coloradans found out early who their two candidates would be. Hickenlooper has the inside track.
(6/26/10) McInnis is polling well. This is becoming the kind of race that is won simply by being the nominee of the party with the more energized voters.
(7/23/10) Despite a career-wrecking plagiarism scandal, McInnis has refused to drop out of the race. With Hickenlooper now likely to win big, Democrats also have an improved chance of winning the toss up Senate race and the close race in the 4th congressional district.
(8/11/10) With most of the vote in, it appears that Dan Maes will defeat Scott McInnis for the GOP nomination by a very small margin. So, good news for Republicans: no more McInnis scandal to worry about. Bad news: their nominee is a political unknown who believes that Denver's bike sharing cooperative is a United Nations world-government conspiracy.
(9/11/10) Maes has ignored calls to get out of the race, while Tancredo will split the conservative vote. The big question here: will Democratic incumbents like Senator Michael Bennet get a boost from the Republican train wreck.

Rating: Leans Democratic takeover
Republican:  Former Ambassador Tom Foley (Jodi Rell retiring)
Democrat: Former Stamford Mayor Dan Malloy
(11/20/09) Connecticut has been trending blue for years, but hasn't elected a Democrat as Governor since 1986. This is a wide open race with neither party possessing a presumptive nominee.
(5/24/10) Will this very slow-developing race be between two candidates (Foley and Lamont) who have never held office? Far out.
(8/11/10) Dan Malloy won his primary in convincing fashion. I'm surprised that he beat high-profile candidate Ned Lamont so easily. Malloy has the inside track in November.

Rating: Toss up
Republican: Businessman Rick Scott (Charlie Crist retiring)
Democrat: Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink
Independent: Bud Chiles
(5/18/09) Popular Governor Crist has decided that rather than coasting to reelection as chief executive of one of the world's largest economies, he'd rather run for Senate and become a back-bencher with the highly unpopular Republican minority in Washington. Strange. When I first heard that CFO Alex Sink was running in this race, I assumed that they were talking about some guy from the corporate world. It turns out that Chief Financial Officer is an elective office in Florida, and that Mrs. Adelaide "Alex" Sink has a good chance of winning.
(2/14/10) Florida is catching the Republican wave. McCollum leads Sink by about 10 points in polls. Looks like this race will turn out to be a snoozer.
(6/9/10) Bud Chiles, son of former Democratic Governor Lawton Chiles, has launched an independent bid. Forget what I said about this race being boring.
(6/15/10) Conventional wisdom has suggested all along that McCollum would be Florida's next Governor. But a surprising new poll shows McCollum trailing scandal-plagued businessman Rick Scott. Once again, Republicans are showing a preference for the political newcomer versus the experienced public official.
(7/23/10) Rick Scott has surged into the lead on the GOP side, but once again it looks like the Republican faithful are backing a candidate who's more conservative, but less electable. Polls also show Sink leading Scott. Winning this race would be huge for the blue team, as it would keep Republicans from having everything their own way in next year's decennial congressional seat redistricting. In 2001, Florida's all-GOP controlled state government gerrymandered the state's seats in Congress so that most would go Republican.
(8/25/10) The Tea Party strikes again: Deeply-corrupt businessman Rick Scott has defeated establishment candidate Bill McCollum for the GOP nomination. In head-to-head polls, Scott has consistently trailed Democrat Alex Sink while McCollum consistently led the blue team's nominee.
(10/29/10) This race is deadlocked, but I'm afraid Scott's $60 million may buy him the win.

Rating: Toss up
Republican: Congressman Nathan Deal (Sonny Perdue term-limited)
Democrat: Former Governor Roy Barnes?
Independent: Libertarian John Monds?
(6/4/09) Democrats now have a top-tier candidate in this race: former Governor Roy Barnes. The bad news is that Democrats haven't won a high-profile statewide race in Georgia in a long time. The good news is that the very conservative Georgia Libertarian Party is arguably the strongest third party in any state in the country, and John Monds may siphon off a lot of votes that would otherwise go Republican. On the other hand, Monds is African-American, so he might take away Democratic votes.
(2/14/10) What little polling there has been in this race shows it to be a tossup. Barnes however is still a Democrat in a red state in what will be a Republican year.
(7/23/10) Republicans are in a runoff; no candidate managed to get more than 34% of the vote in their primary. They have a tough road ahead trying to unite their party behind the eventual nominee in the last few weeks before the election.
(8/11/10) First the primary, then the runoff, and the Republicans STILL don't have a candidate. Nathan Deal appears to have a 0.4% victory over Karen Handel, but we'll have to wait for a recount to find out for sure who has conceded. Supporters of the loser in this contest may be reluctant to back the winner in November.
(9/17/10) Deal had just revealed severe personal financial problems. Is this a big scandal that will bring him down? Maybe, but I wouldn't bet on it.

Rating: Likely Democratic takeover
Republican: Lt. Governor Duke Aiona (Linda Lingle term-limited)
Democrat: Congressman Neil Abercrombie
(2/3/09) Deep blue Hawai'i is likely to elect a Democrat in 2010, probably by a landslide. President Obama loves to visit his home state, and it wouldn't surprise me if he dropped by during election season, which would give the Democratic ticket in Hawai'i that much more of an advantage.
(5/6/10) Polls show a close race for a the Democratic nomination, but also show that either candidate will easily defeat Aiona.
(9/26/10) Abercrombie won the final state primary of 2010 last Saturday, and according to one poll leads Aiona by 12. Abercrombie is probably safe, but no Republican can be ruled out completely in this environment.

Rating: Leans Republican pickup
Democrat: Pat Quinn (non-elected incumbent)
Republican: State Senator Bill Brady
(2/3/09) Governor Pat Quinn, who succeeded Rod Blagojevich following the latter's impeachment, is a man who deserves to be Governor. Unfortunately, I have no idea whether blue team will want to go with him or not in 2010. The moribund Illinois GOP will try to capitalize on the Blago scandal to resurrect its fortunes, but I think that the Land of Lincoln has probably gone too blue for the Republicans to take the Governor's office, especially if President Obama gets behind whomever is the Democratic nominee in a big way.
(6/13/09) A small army of Republicans has already lined up to run in this race, suggesting the possibility that the GOP primary will be expensive and divisive. Pat Quinn has announced that he will run; so far no other Democrat has emerged to challenge him for the nomination.
(7/7/09) Governor Quinn has received a surprising endorsement: NFL legend Mike Ditka. Ditka is a Republican, if you didn't know.
(8/7/09) State Comptroller Dan Hynes will be competing with Governor Quinn for the Democratic nod. Hynes has some advantages, as he's been elected to a statewide office three times and he already has a lot of money in the bank. I've met Dan Hynes, he's a relaxed and friendly person.
(2/14/10) A new poll shows Quinn leading Brady by 11. That's pretty good, considering that the Democratic nominee for Lt. Governor has already been forced by scandal to drop out of the race. I think reports of the Democratic Party's death in Illinois may be greatly exaggerated.
(5/6/10) Brady has done quite well in recent polls. Illinois Democrats had better keep the next six months scandal-free.
(8/25/10) The Quinn campaign is incompetent. I'm not going to go into great detail about this, read it for yourself. While a comeback before election day is not out of the question, it isn't likely.

Rating: Likely Republican takeover
Democrat: Chet Culver (incumbent)
Republican: Former Governor Terry Branstad
(11/20/09) Incumbent Governors all over the country are seeing their approval ratings plunge due to the weak economy. No chief executive is feeling this more sharply than Iowa's Governor Culver, if this recent Des Moines Register poll is to be believed. The poll shows Culver getting creamed by former Governor Branstad. I think the rumors of Culver's impending doom are greatly exaggerated. Iowans love to reelect their incumbents, and Culver is a proven vote getter. In 2006, he was considered an underdog to GOP heavyweight Jim Nussle, and went on to beat Nussle by nearly 10 percent. Branstad on the other hand, is clearly out of touch with today's ultra-conservative grassroots Republicans.
(2/14/10) Ouch. Culver's current approval/disapproval rating stands at 36/53 with 21% of Democrats saying that they'd prefer Branstad. Poor Chet, you were the right man at the wrong time.
(5/15/10) Culver's position has improved a little, with a KCCI poll showing him with a net-positive approval rating, and trailing Branstad by only 7. If Iowa Democrats can get out the vote, and if the rift between Branstad and conservatives doesn't close, Culver can win. But I wouldn't bet on it.
(6/9/10) Brandstad managed barely 50% of the vote in the GOP primary. That's a pretty embarrassing showing against a couple of third-tier opponents.
(6/26/10) Branstad this week chose state Senator Kim Reynolds to be his running mate. (Note: Iowa's Office of Lt. Governor is pretty much always reserved for women, since the state has never elected a female Governor, Congresswoman or Senator and precious few women to any office.) Now Bob Vander Plaats, who lost to Branstad in the gubernatorial primary, is trying to force Branstad to drop Reynolds and put Vander Plaats himself on the ticket. If Vander Plaats doesn't get what he wants, there's rumors he may start an independent bid for Governor and split the Republican vote in November. Oh please oh please oh please.
(9/29/10) In 2010, we've seen a number of squabbles on the right split the Republican party, resulting in things like Senator Lisa Murkowski's write-in bid in Alaska and Tom Tancredo's third-party candidacy in Colorado. I was holding out for something like that in Iowa, where Chet Culver can't seem to get more than about 36% in a poll. Didn't happen. SIGH. Welcome back, Governor Branstad.

Rating: Guaranteed Republican takeover
Democrat: State Senator Tom Holland (Mark Parkinson retiring)
Republican: U.S. Senator Sam Brownback
(5/18/09) Governor Sebelius has resigned to join Obama's Cabinet. New Governor Mark Parkinson and Lt. Governor Troy Findley have both declared that they are not running in 2010. The Democrats who hold the Attorney General and Treasurer offices in Kansas are both running for reelection. So apparently, the blue team in Kansas is ready to concede this race as well as the open seat Senate race. Better luck next time.
(6/15/09) Contrary to expectations, Brownback will not be getting any competition for the GOP nomination. His election is all but guaranteed.
(5/24/10) For years, the Democratic party of Kansas was one of the country's most tenacious and successful, winning election after election in a conservative state. Now, they've apparently fallen into a black hole.

Rating: Toss up
Democrat: State Senate President Libby Mitchell (John Baldacci term-limited)
Republican: Waterville Mayor Paul LePage
(6/15/10) If Mitchell doesn't make any serious mistakes, she will probably win this race. LePage got the GOP nod by being the tea party favorite, and Maine is a state well-known for its preference for moderate, middle-of-the-road politicians.
(9/11/10) I don't know what's wrong with the Mitchell campaign, but LePage has built a substantial lead in the polls. It's hard to believe that Obama carried this state by 17 points.
(10/4/10) LePage appeared to be cruising to victory, and that seems to have made him somewhat arrogant. First he stormed out of a press conference when questioned about a minor scandal, then he cheerfully told supporters about how much he looks forward to telling President Obama to 'go to hell.' The most recent poll of this race shows Mitchell ahead by a point.

Rating: Likely Democratic hold
Democrat: Martin O'Malley (incumbent)
Republican: Former Governor Robert Ehrlich
(5/15/10) Now we've got three former Governors trying to win back their old office. Branstad in Iowa (likely to win), Barnes in Georgia (might win) and Ehrlich in Maryland, who I think probably won't win. The Maryland GOP has become thoroughly incompetent. In 2001, the state's Democrats gerrymandered Maryland's eight congressional districts so that six would likely go Democratic, with all the state's Republicans crammed into the remaining two districts. But in 2008 the GOP actually lost one of those two. And it's always a bad sign when a state has to dig up a name out of the past in order to be competitive in a statewide race.
(9/26/10) Support for an Ehrlich comeback seems to be capped in the mid-40s. Maryland doesn't seem to be catching the Republican wave.

Rating: Leans Democratic hold
Democrat: Deval Patrick (incumbent)
Republican: Former state cabinet secretary Charlie Baker
(2/3/09) Patrick has had a tough time in his first term, making him somewhat vulnerable to a strong primary or general election challenge.
(6/20/10) Baker has a real shot at winning this race. He's got plenty of money, and dissatisfaction with Patrick is fairly high. On the other hand, Baker isn't particularly popular either. He served in the cabinets of Republican Governors William Weld and Paul Cellucci, and there are some serious concerns about his conduct. If Patrick doesn't make any major mistakes, he should win another term.
(9/26/10) A recent poll shows Patrick leading by 3. If nothing changes in this race, I'll be calling it for Patrick, but it could go either way.

Rating: Likely Republican takeover
Democrat: Lansing Mayor Virgil Bernero (Jennifer Granholm term-limited)
Republican: Businessman Rick Snyder
(12/20/09) Democrats appear to have a consensus candidate early in this race while Republican support is split between Cox and Hoekstra. Polls currently show that if Cox can secure the GOP nomination, he will go into the general election with the inside track over Democrat John Cherry. Michigan's economy is in desperate shape, and Governor Granholm's poor approval ratings are casting a shadow over other Democratic candidates.
(1/5/10) Cherry has dropped out, citing poor fundraising. The chances of the GOP grabbing this seat are rising, but it's not over yet. John McCain targeted Michigan in 2008, and wound up losing by 16.5%. Virgil Bernero is a fiery populist and I hope he wins.
(8/4/10) It's political newcomer Rick Snyder for the Republicans. He is the kind of candidate who can spend his way to victory, and he probably has the edge in this election.
(9/17/10) Did I call this race a toss up? Forget about it. It's Snyder by a country mile.

Rating: Leans Democratic takeover
Republican: State Representative Tom Emmer? (Tim Pawlenty retiring)
Democrat: Former Senator Tom Dayton
Independence: Tom Horner
(6/4/09) The good news in this open-seat race is that Republican victories in high-profile statewide races in the upper midwest have become incredibly rare. The bad news is that Democrats haven't elected a Governor in Minnesota since 1986.
(6/13/09) The Independence Party, which elected Jesse Ventura to the Governor's office in 1998, still has major-party status in Minnesota. Whomever is their candidate will probably grab 10-15% of the vote in this race. The consensus is that the party tends to siphon off slightly more Democratic than Republican votes; hopefully this will not cloud Democratic prospects in next year's race.
(2/14/10) The Democratic Party has ten announced candidates, the Republicans six. It will be a while before I can make a prediction on this one.
(5/24/10) Polls show a toss up. It may be a Republican year, but Dayton, if he is the nominee, will have the advantage of being a candidate who's already won a statewide election in blue Minnesota. It looks like Minnesota's Independent party (remember Jesse Ventura?) will not be making any noise in this one.
(7/23/10) Tom Emmer thinks people on minimum wage are overpaid, because waiters and bartenders make over $100K a year. Dayton has the inside track to get the Democratic nomination, and to beat Emmer this fall.
(8/11/10) Dayton has won the Democratic bid by about a 1% margin over Minnesota House Speaker Margaret Kelliher. If Kelliher supporters aren't so disappointed that they refuse to support Dayton, he has the advantage over Emmer in November.
(9/17/10) Dayton has continued to lead in all recent polls, with 3rd-party candidate Horner grabbing somewhere between 9 and 18 percent. Emmer just isn't catching the Republican wave. Thank you, sensible Minnesota.

Rating: Leans Republican hold
Republican: Former Attorney General Brian Sandoval  (incumbent Jim Gibbons denied renomination)
Democrat: County Commissioner Rory Reid
(2/3/09) Gibbons is contending with problems on all sides as he prepares to face the voters in 2010. His approval ratings are poor, the FBI is investigating his finances, his wife divorced him following accusations of marital infidelity, his running mate Lt. Governor Brian Krolicki has been indicted, and voter registration in his state has been trending strongly Democratic. The blue team also has a deep bench in Nevada, so our chances of grabbing this seat are pretty good.
(6/13/09) Oscar Goodman, the Democratic Mayor of Las Vegas, may run for Governor as an independent. This opens up the unfortunate possibility that Goodman and the Democratic nominee will split the Democratic vote and hand this race to the GOP.
(2/14/10) With Goodman out of the picture, the race is Sandoval's to lose. He's relatively untainted by the many scandals of the Gibbons administration, and Rory Reid, like his father Senator Harry Reid, is just not popular.
(6/9/10) Sandoval's campaign hasn't hit any bumps in the road; he's likely the next Governor of Nevada.

New Mexico
Rating: Leans Republican takeover
Democrat: Lt. Governor Diane Denish (Bill Richardson term-limited)
Republican: District Attorney Susana Martinez
(6/20/10) Martinez has done an impressive job of making a name for herself, but Denish is much better known and has the advantage in blue-state New Mexico.
(9/11/10) Martinez has gotten every break in this race. The Denish campaign has been weighed down by the sinking popularity of Governor Richardson, an opponent with an hispanic last name in the most hispanic state in the country and of course the enthusiasm gap that's killing Democrats everywhere. Better luck next time.
(10/4/10) A Democratic poll shows this race as tied, but if I had to pick a winner today, I'd go with Martinez.

Rating: Leans Republican takeover
Democrat: Ted Strickland (incumbent)
Republican: Former congressman John Kasich (likely)
(1/1/10) John Kasich retired from Congress in 2001 to join Lehman Brothers financial services, where he recently helped manage the firm into bankruptcy. Could such a person really beat the incumbent Governor Strickland? If the GOP can build up enough momentum, it can happen. Ohio's economy is hurting, and Strickland's approval rating stands at a very vulnerable 45%.
(3/7/10) Well what do you know? A reliable poll actually shows Strickland leading this race.
(9/11/10) Democrats have not given up on this race, but the polls are looking very bad.
(10/4/10) Strickland has closed the polling gap. It's a typical-2010 story. In the CBS poll, Strickland leads by 5 among all voters, but trails by 1 among likely voters. If Democrats can get just a little more fired up, Strickland can win.

Rating: Likely Republican takeover
Democrat: Lt. Governor Jari Askins? (Brad Henry term-limited)
Republican: Congresswoman Mary Fallin?
(2/3/09) It's unknown whom either party is likely to nominate at this time, but the GOP has the inside track in red-state Oklahoma.
(6/13/09) Attorney General Drew Edmundson is running for the Democrats. He will be a very formidable candidate.
(2/14/10) Fallin leads by 12 in the only recent poll of this race. Barring some radical new development, this race is over.
(8/4/10) Fallin cruising to victory.

Rating: Toss Up
Democrat: Former Governor John Kitzhaber (Ted Kulongoski term-limited)
Republican: Former pro basketball player Chris Dudley
(6/26/10) It's a former Governor with 30 years of experience versus a retired athlete with no government experience at all. Well, as Al Gore once said while visiting a campaign office where I was working, "Not all experience is good." The polls show that Dudley has a pretty good chance.
(7/23/10) Dudley refused to participate in a debate with Kitzhaber, saying he needed to go on vacation. Then it turns out he was lying; he actually went to Colorado to attend a meeting of the Republican Governors Association. If someone like Dudley can win election, this country really is in trouble.
(9/26/10) This race seems to be tied. I may have to flip a coin. Apparently, Oregon is prepared to elect Dudley to the state's highest office even though he moved to Washington to avoid paying taxes in Oregon. Kitzhaber might gain an advantage from upcoming debates. He's gonna need it.
(10/29/10) This race is deadlocked, but my gut tells me Kitzhaber will eke it out.

Rating: Leans Republican takeover
Democrat: County Executive Dan Onorato? (Ed Rendell term-limited)
Republican: Attorney General Tom Corbett (likely)
(12/20/09) How many times am I going to write this same story? Another Democratic Governor term-limited out. Another strong Republican nominee in what is shaping up to be a strong Republican year. The only hope in this race for the blue team is strength in numbers: voter registration in Pennsylvania runs 51% Democratic, 37% Republican and 12% independent.
(2/14/10) Corbett has big leads in all he polls versus all the potential Democratic nominees. This one's probably over.
(5/24/10) The Quinnipiac poll shows Onorato cutting cutting Corbett's lead from 12 to 6 points in the last month. I still don't like Onorato's chances, but the blue team needs this one to be close so that Sestak can beat Toomey in the Senate race.
(9/26/10) This race continues to roll along in a fairly sleepy manner. That's bad news for Democrats, as Corbett has led all the way. Barring any major new developments, I'm predicting a Republican sweep in Pennsylvania this year. Rats.

Rhode Island
Rating: Leans Independent takeover
Republican: John Robitaille? (Donald Carcieri term-limited)
Democrat: State Treasurer Frank Caprio
Independent: Former Republican Senator Lincoln Chaffee
(2/3/09) Rhode Island is one of the bluest states in the country, and its economy is a mess. The GOP's nominee, whomever he or she is, faces a steep climb.
(11/20/09) Chaffee's independent candidacy is a serious one, but if he was really all that popular, he wouldn't have lost his 2006 Senate reelection bid to little known U.S. Attorney Sheldon Whitehouse. With Democrats likely to field a strong candidate and the GOP a weak one, this race is probably in the bag for the blue team.
(3/28/10) Chaffee is mounting a stronger campaign than I anticipated. It's also beginning to look like the Republicans will nominate a complete non-entity. If conservatives migrate to Chaffee, he can win.
(9/26/10) A new poll gives Caprio a 12 point lead. This is a very close race, but barring new developments I'll be calling it for Caprio.
(10/29/10) Forget what I said in September, Caprio has crashed and burned. Chaffee, running to the left of the other candidates, will win.

South Carolina
Rating: Leans Republican hold
Republican: State Representative Nikki Haley (Mark Sanford term-limited)
Democrat: State Senator Vincent Sheheen
(8/7/09) It's been a long time since the blue team won a really high-profile race in red-state South Carolina, but we've got a decent shot in this open-seat race next year. Jim Rex will be a very competitive candidate if he gets the Democratic bid. Whomever is the Republican nominee will also have to contend with the continuing fallout from the Governor Sanford affair.
(5/24/10) It looks like we might get a couple state legislators as the nominees. South Carolina is likely to elect a very conservative Governor. Also, water is wet.
(6/9/10) Sheheen ran an impressive campaign to capture the Democratic nomination. Although the Republicans are in a runoff, it's hard to imagine any scenario that ends with the blue team winning this race.

Rating: Leans Republican takeover
Democrat: Mike McWherter
Republican: Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam (likely)
The Tennessee GOP is a real piece of work. One of the most rabidly conservative state parties in the country, in 2008 it engineered some of the craziest and dirtiest attacks on Barack Obama. It's possible that the Republicans will nominate a candidate for this race so radically right-wing that many voters will find him or her hard to stomach.
(3/20/10) Democrats have failed to get a big name into this race. This one's not looking good for the blue team.
(8/4/10) Barring some radical new development, Haslam will win the GOP nomination and be Tennessee's next Governor.

Rating: Leans Republican hold
Republican: Rick Perry (incumbent)
Democrat: Former Houston Mayor Bill White
(2/3/09) Iincumbent Rick Perry will face a primary challenge from Senator Kay Hutchison.
(8/27/09) The race for the Republican nomination has just begun, and it's already become incredibly vicious. Democratic hopes in this race rest on the possibility that the eventual winner on the GOP side will be seriously damaged as a candidate. Democrats now have a good recruit in the form of Hank Gilbert, who polled 42% in a statewide race in 2006. For a Democrat in Texas, 42% is a lot.
(3/7/10) Perry dispatched Hutchison quite handily in last week's primary, and is a good bet to win another term, though Bill White will certainly give him a run for his money.
(6/26/10) The most recent polling shows this race to be tied. It's said that Texas is slowing drifting from red state to purple state. If it gets to the point where Democrats can start putting Texas "in play" in national elections, the Republican party is in big trouble.
(7/23/10) White has raised $700K from supporters of Perry rival Republican Kay Hutchison. This suggests the possibility of a "spite vote" for White by Hutchison supporters this fall.
(9/26/10) Arsonists burned all the voting machines in Houston (Democrat Bill White's stronghold) to make sure that Perry would win. There's every indication that Perry's going to win this race by a few points. But that speaks volumes: Texas is slowly, slowly moving from red-state to purple-state. And if Republicans can't bank on Texas in every election, their party is in trouble.

Rating: Leans Democratic hold
Democrat: State Senator Pete Shumlin (Jim Douglas retiring)
Republican: Lt. Governor Brian Dubie
(8/27/09) Republican Jim Douglas has decided not to seek a fifth two-year term as Governor of the very blue state of Vermont. Lt. Governor Brian Dubie actually garnered 3% more of the vote than did Douglas in the last election, demonstrating that he would be a credible candidate in 2010.
(3/7/10) Markowitz seems to have the most support among Democrats, and if she gets the nomination would probably start the general election season with a small lead over Republican Dubie.
(8/25/10) Good news: turnout was very high for the Democratic primary. Less good news: we're apparently headed for a recount. The top four finishers each earned between 21% and 25% of the vote. Failure to unite around one candidate during the primary often means trouble in November.
(9/26/10) This race has been lightly polled, but momentum seems to be on Shumlin's side.

Rating: Leans Republican takeover
Democrat: Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett (Jim Doyle retiring)
Republican: Milwaukee County executive Scott Walker
(8/27/08) Wisconsin is getting its first open-seat race for the Governor's office since 1982. The GOP will need to find a top-tier candidate to compete.
(11/20/09) The GOP isn't likely to win an open-seat race in blue state Wisconsin unless they can come up with a higher profile candidate than the guys they have so far. Barrett has the inside track.
(3/28/10) There have been several recent polls of this race, all showing Walker with a small lead over Barrett. Wisconsin to go red? Maybe so.
(9/26/10) Three different polls show Walker leading by around 10 points. This may be the most depressing race of the year, as a comfortable victory for Walker may also spell doom for incumbent Democratic Senator Russ Feingold. Midwestern progressives are losing all our heroes. This sucks.

Rating: Guaranteed Republican takeover
Democrat: Former County Commissioner Leslie Petersen (Dave Freudenthal term-limited)
Republican: Former U.S. attorney Matt Mead
(1/1/10) Officially, popular Democratic incumbent Dave Freudenthal is prohibited from running for a third term. Freudenthal may however challenge the constitutionality of the state's term limits. If he is not the Democratic nominee next year, the GOP is a lock to win this one.
(3/7/10) Freudenthal isn't running. An age may unfold ere another Democrat wins a statewide race in Wyoming.
(8/25/10) A deeply-divided electorate gave Matt Mead only 28.7% of the vote for the Republican nomination. Bad feelings on the GOP side mean their candidate might win by only 25 points or so in November.

Races unlikely to become competitive:

New York (5/24/10) is an open seat race, which will be won easily by Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.

South Dakota has a Republican Governor who is prevented by term limit from running again, however because it is a red state I expect the GOP to retain control.

Arkansas and New Hampshire have incumbent Democratic Governors who are likely to win reelection.

Idaho and Nebraska have incumbent Republican Governors who are likely to win reelection.

Utah will hold a special election in 2010 for the remaining two years of Governor Huntsman's term. Huntsman has resigned to become Ambassador to China. I don't how long it's been since a Democrat won a state-wide election in Utah, but it's been a while, and it isn't likely to happen again in the foreseeable future.


Anonymous said...

I live in Pennsylvania, and can tell you, quite honestly, that Tom Corbett will most likely be our next governor. Rendell was VERY unpopular and we are likely to be governed by a republican again. This is EXACTLY what my state needs to get back on the right track.

Anonymous said...

Meg Whitman is running in California and is gaining a lot of ground.

It wont allow me to embed the poll, but check out www.pollster.com. Click on California on the side and take a look at the poll labeled Whitman v. Brown

M. Joseph Goodfriend said...

Joseph, I give Corbett a good chance of winning, but frankly I don't see how Whitman wins in California. In 2008 California handed Obama a 24% spread over McCain. In 2004, it gave Kerry only a 10% spread over Bush. That's not exactly what I call "trending red."

Anonymous said...

you have to remember, my friend, that presidential approval and election does not always show on congressional tickets. Look at all of the congressmen and women in blue states that are republican or the red states that are democrat. Just look at the poll, that is what I wanted you to see.

John said...

MEMO to Joe's prediction: Rasmussen has Perry leading the TX-GOV race 50-41 and he's likely to WIN a 3rd full term and heading back to the Texas Governor's Mansion on January 18, 2011 and stay there until January 20, 2015.

M. Joseph Goodfriend said...

Memo to John on TX.
1. Ras polls lean to the right by about 5%. That poll also failed to include the Libertarian candidate, who can soak up some votes on the right.
2. There's every indication that some Hutch supporters will not vote for Perry.
3. Cook Political Report calls the race a tossup.

Perry still has the inside track, but I expect a close race.