We have put up our first race ratings for the Governor races and it's looking even worse for Democrats than the Senate. Currently, the Democrats hold a 26-24 majority of governor's mansions. This is sure to change disproportionately in favor of the Republicans, who are competitive in many more seats. Surprisingly, a lot of these seats are in unlikely states like Oregon and Maine, where they have elected surprisingly strong candidates.
The outlook continues to improve for Republicans who nominated the strongest candidates they could in previously tossup races such as Michigan and Alabama where GOP candidates Snyder and Bentley are now cruising with 20 point leads. Even in heavily Democratic states like Maine and Oregon, the GOP have nominated blockbuster candidates (LePage and Dudley, respectively) who have made previously Democratic favored seats into tossups.
Even in Democratic-column states such as Colorado and Hawaii, we are looking at potential scandals/situations that will likely move the ratings towards the GOP. In Colorado's Governor race, Democratic nominee Hickenlooper joins the Republicans with his own ethics scandals and the race is tightening. In Hawaii, a civil war between the two Democratic candidates, Hannemann and Abercrombie, threatens to help Republican Aiona, who has the highest favorability numbers of them all. We will be tracking these races and making appropriate ratings changes.
Although the Democrats are surely playing defense, they have a good chance at pickups in CT, MN and RI. In all three states, the Republicans have held the Governor's mansion for many years, and the voters seem to be looking for a change. If the Democrats run good campaigns in these states, they could secure these seats in their column and make a play for other seats such as FL and CA, expensive markets to advertise, especially with the headwind against them.
Our current projection is +15 GOP for Governorships, but these unique local-centric races can change at a dime. We will keep you updated.