LEGEND: SAFE DEM | LIKELY DEM | LEANS DEM | TOSS-UP | LEANS GOP | LIKELY GOP | SAFE GOP
Above is the 2014 Governor Map Predictions, which includes individual governor races and their ratings determined by People’s Pundit Daily Senior Political Analyst, Richard D. Baris. Polling is provided when available, but polling in and of itself is not enough to call a credible race rating.
But before we get into the model and ratings, be sure to sign up for our newsletter in order to be notified of rating changes and receive notifications of our new “expanded analysis” articles, which provide in-depth analysis and commentary.
Our 2014 governor predictions are determined by a model that includes several variables, such as polling (weighted to value based on accuracy), state demographics and political leanings (including Partisan Voting Index (PVI) and party ID), candidate recruitment and strength, GOTV and campaign organization, national political sentiment, the ever-important variables of the economy (state and national) and presidential approval rating (state and national).
It is worth noting, however, that the relationship between presidential approval rating and statewide gubernatorial election results is not as strong as we observe in Senate and House elections. It really isn’t all that surprising of a finding.
(View Presidential Approval Ratings – Click Here)
Tipp O’Neill, the former Democratic Speaker of the House until his retirement in 1987, famously said: “All politics is local.” In governor races, historically speaking, it couldn’t be more when we look at election outcomes. That’s not to say national political landscape doesn’t effect governor races, but just that there seems to be more historical anomalies in these contests. It is true, however, the “six-year itch” has been more prominent in modern American political history, which may or may not translate into a greater impact on the in-power party down the ballot.
Nevertheless, we have many variables to examine when determining a rating, thus if you see polling on the interactive map or the state-by-state table below that does not necessarily comport with the rating assigned, then that would be the reason why.
For example, and simplicity, 2010 Republican nominee Charlie Baker and likely 2014 contender for Massachusetts governor, is leading all of his potential challengers. However, the state’s political leaning are such that it would be irresponsible to overestimate his chances this early in the game.
Analysis And Overview Of 2014 Governor Map Predictions And National Political Landscape
Perhaps the simplest way to explain the landscape for the 2014 Governor Map is to observe how it is different from 2010. In 2010, Republicans made big gains nationwide, including a net 7 governorships (including Charlie Crist who was elected a Republican but switched to an independent before Democrat) and 11 governorships that had been under Democratic control. Underscoring both how “all politics is local” when it comes to gubernatorial contests, as well as the importance of candidate recruitment, Democrats managed to grab up 5 Republican-held governorships despite getting creamed nationwide.
The total 29 governorships Republicans controlled after Election Day was the most the party had held in a decade, though Republicans now hold 30 of 50.
How is 2014 different from the 2010 election cycle? In 2010, only 13 of the 37 incumbent state governors were running for reelection, leaving two-dozen statehouses without an incumbent. Since 1960, incumbent governors have enjoyed a success rate of roughly 80 percent, or nearly 4 in 5 governors were successful at being reelected. In 2014, we are likely to have around just 6 open statehouses, down from the 24 open statehouse free-for-all in 2010.
With around 30 of the 36 governorships including races with incumbents, the most running in one cycle in a half-century, the cycle will prove a difficult one for whichever party is hoping to see big turnover change on Election Day.
Unlike the 2014 Senate Map, Republicans have a more difficult task in defending their incumbents on the 2014 Governor Map. The Republican Party has 17 incumbent governors up for reelection, including 9 who are in blue states that voted for President Barack Obama, twice.
As previously stated, PeoplesPunditDaily.com uses a model that includes but is not limited to PVI trends, which can be compared below in the analysis table. Generally speaking, in 2010, Republican candidates won Democrat-held Senate seats in states where the PVI was more Republican than D+2, with a roughly 85 percent chance of success. In turn, generally speaking, Republicans lost races for Democrat-held Senate seats in which the PVI was less Republican.
(Note: Click on state or race rating [bold] for expanded analysis when available, as expanded analysis articles will be added daily. Otherwise, below the table, brief state-by-state analysis is available.)
2010 Partisan Voting Index
2014 Partisan Voting Index
PPD Polling Average
PPD Rating And Analysis
|HAWAII||D+12||D+20||Aiona +8||LEANS DEMOCRAT|
|IOWA||D+1||D+1||Branstad +14.3||SAFE REPUBLICAN|
|ILLINOIS (Turnover)||D+8||D+8||Rauner +8 | Brady +9 | Rutherford +9 | Dillard +9||LEANS REPUBLICAN|
|OHIO||R+1||R+1||Kasich +6||LIKELY REPUBLICAN|
|MICHIGAN||D+4||D+4||Snyder +8||LIKELY REPUBLICAN|
|SOUTH DAKOTA||R+9||R+10||Daugaard +40||SAFE REPUBLICAN|
|TEXAS||R+10||R+10||Abbott +12.5||SAFE REPUBLICAN|
|WISCONSIN||D+2||D+2||Walker +6||LIKELY REPUBLICAN|
Brief State-By-State Analysis For Governor Races Not Yet On Expanded Table
PPD Rating – SAFE REPUBLICAN
Gov. Robert Bentley (R) is as sure as an incumbent can be. Despite talk of a possible primary challenge to Bentley, he seems to only have one minor challenger, former Morgan County Commissioner Stacy Lee George (R). There is another possibility, being a state school board member Mary Scott Hunter (R), but I really don’t foresee any of this chatter coming to fruition. Perhaps, that may change.
PPD Rating — SAFE REPUBLICAN
Incumbent Gov. Sean Parnell (R) stopped all speculation that he may pass up running in early May for challenging Sen. Mark Begich (D). Like it or not, Parnell will have to deal with a GOP primary challenge. Parnell is intimately familiar with the challenger, because he defeated attorney Bill Walker 50% to 33% in the Republican primary, then went on to spank Democratic candidate Ethan Berkowitz in the 2010 midterm election.
But Walker has decided to take another wack at the bag, criticizing Parnell for an oil tax reduction agenda that saw more pushback than Parnell might have though it would. I am not very comfortable calling Walker a threat at this point, however. For the Democrats, for what it is worth, state Sen. Bill Wielechowski is weighing a bid, sand Berkowitz is as well. Neither would be a problem, barring something outrageous.
PPD Rating – LIKELY REPUBLICAN
Some pundits think that the decision of ex-Rep. Mike Ross (D) to join the race may make this race more competitive than it otherwise would be. I am not too sure about that, either. A Talk Business poll showed that Ross would be more competitive against ex-Rep. Asa Hutchinson (R) – the Republican heavyweight – than ex-Lt. Gov. Bill Halter. However, Ross was still trailing by 5 percent.
The Democratic Party wanted Ross, to be sure. Halter, who is far more liberal, too liberal for Arkansas even on the state office level, is being asked to step aside and run for the U.S. House instead, but apparently he is not a good team player.
Hutchinson will fend off businessman Curtis Coleman and state Rep. Debra Hobbs in a primary, but Hutchinson is in a great position to steamroll them both.
As far as the general election, for the same reasons I favor Tom Cotton over Pryor – demographics, state political leanings and Republican midterm advantage – I will part ways with some other well-known pundits on this race, because Hutchinson — as of now — has a better chance of winning the governor mansion than Cotton has to unseat Pryor.
However, it is becoming increasingly likely that the Republican candidates will sweep both.
|Poll||Date||Sample||Hutchinson (R)||Ross (D)||Spread|
|PPD Average||8/4 – 2/5||–||40.8||37.5||Hutchinson +3.3|
|Rasmussen Reports||2/4 – 2/5||500 LV||41||44||Ross +3|
|The Arkansas Poll||10/10 – 10/17||LV||35||31||Hutchinson +4|
|Talk Business Poll||10/8 – 10/8||603 LV||41||37||Hutchinson +4|
|Harper (R)||8/4 – 8/5||587 LV||46||38||Hutchinson +8|
PPD Rating — LEANS REPUBLICAN
Actor Steven Seagal made headlines for weighing a bid for Arizona governor, but it is less than clear if he is serious or just promoting his new reality TV show with Sheriff Arpaio.
Democrat Richard Carmona barely lost to now-Sen. Jeff Flake last November for a seat in the U.S. Senate. To bad for the Democrats, Carmona decided not to run. Now, ex-Arizona Board of Regents President Fred DuVal (D) is the only viable candidate for Democrats, despite state House Minority Leader Chad Campbell (D) saying he may run. On the Republican side of the fence, this could get interesting.
Republican incumbent Jan Brewer is supposedly term limited, but has suggested she may challenge the term limit law to run again. Brewer only served one full term, but Arizona state law – which Brewer is now looking into the “ambiguity” of – limits office holders to two consecutive terms regardless of if they are full or partial terms.
If Brewer doesn’t run, Secretary of State Ken Bennett, who announced he has decided to run, starting as the favorite for the Republican nomination. Bottom line, however, Democrats have been disappointed time and time again, overestimating the strength of the Latino vote in this state. Mitt Romney handily defeated Barack Obama by just under 10 percent.
|Susquehanna||November, 2013||245||± ?||20%||8%||4%||2%||6%||4%||56%|
PPD Rating — SAFE DEMOCRAT
Ex-Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado (R) will seek the Republican nomination for governor in 2014. As Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s (R) former deputy for majority of the last two years of his second term, Maldonado is in a great position to receive the nomination, because it is a moderate state party. Maldonado is a moderate who supports immigration reform, and his opponent, does not. State Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, who vehemently opposes illegal immigration, is the only other challenger.
Gov. Jerry Brown (D) will run for reelection and is heavily favored to win, with a polling lead around 20 percent against either GOP candidates. Even if Brown shocked us all and decided not to run, the Golden State heavily favors Democrats over a state Republican Party — who once dominated California politics — but has been in shambles for years.
PPD Rating — TOSS-UP
- Primary Election — Leans Tancredo
Ex-Rep. Tom Tancredo ® called Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper’s decision to temporarily reprieve the execution of a man on death row “the last straw,” and has said that he will once again run against Hickenlooper for governor. Not only was he a controversial congressman, but also the Constitution Party’s gubernatorial candidate against Hickenlooper and Republican Dan Maes back in 2010. Many blamed Tancredo for Maes’ defeat – unfounded, by the way – but he won 36 percent of the vote, while Maes won a measly 11 percent.
Hickenlooper easily won with 51 percent, because of the fracture in the conservative vote. Tancredo’s opposition to immigration reform in a state with an increasingly large Latino vote has establishment, country club Colorado Republicans ready to pull a Karl Rove. But pundits are making a mistake on this race, just as the GOP establishment is making a mistake by not solidly rallying behind Tancredo. A June 13 poll by Quinnipiac found Hickenlooper leading Tancredo only 42 percent -41 percent, which was duplicated in a follow-up Quinnipiac poll conducted in late August.
The latests Q-Polls have found Hickenlooper in a much better positioned for reelection — while the Democratic pollster PPP is way out in left field on Tancredo’s support comparatively — but voters say by the governor does not deserve reelection in all polling. Both Quinnipiac surveys, as well, clearly show voters strongly disapprove of Hickenlooper’s death penalty position. Coupled with recent gun control legislation, which resulted in the recall of two Democratic state senators, including the State Senate Leader, and I just don’t see this race “Leaning Democrat” as other pundits see it.
Overall, alternative Republicans were not polling nearly as well as Tancredo, but Kopp seems to have an insignificant advantage over Tancredo against Hickenlooper, though it does represent a staunch improvement in his showing.
Demographically, the state is beginning to look like New Mexico, where libertarian-leaning Republicans – such as Gary Johnson did – can appeal to voters and surprise the pundits. I will watch this one closely and, if need be, alter the rating. But for now, I stand by the call.
|Poll||Date||Sample||Hickenlooper (D)||Tancredo (R)||Spread|
|PPP (D)||12/3 – 12/4||928 RV||48||40||Hickenlooper +8|
|Quinnipiac||11/15 – 11/18||1206 RV||46||41||Hickenlooper +5|
|Quinnipiac||8/15 – 8/21||1184 RV||46||45||Hickenlooper +1|
|Quinnipiac||6/5 – 6/10||1065 RV||42||41||Hickenlooper +1|
|PPP (D)||4/11 – 4/14||500 RV||52||41||Hickenlooper +11|
|Poll||Date||Sample||Hickenlooper (D)||Gessler (R)||Spread|
|PPP (D)||12/3 – 12/4||928 RV||47||40||Hickenlooper +7|
|Quinnipiac||11/15 – 11/18||1206 RV||45||40||Hickenlooper +5|
|Quinnipiac||8/15 – 8/21||1184 RV||47||42||Hickenlooper +5|
|Quinnipiac||6/5 – 6/10||1065 RV||42||40||Hickenlooper +2|
|PPP (D)||4/11 – 4/14||500 RV||50||40||Hickenlooper +10|
|Poll||Date||Sample||Hickenlooper (D)||Brophy (R)||Spread|
|PPP (D)||12/3 – 12/4||928 RV||44||43||Hickenlooper +1|
|Quinnipiac||11/15 – 11/18||1206 RV||44||38||Hickenlooper +6|
|Quinnipiac||8/15 – 8/21||1184 RV||47||40||Hickenlooper +7|
|Quinnipiac||6/5 – 6/10||1065 RV||43||37||Hickenlooper +6|
|Poll||Date||Sample||Hickenlooper (D)||Kopp (R)||Spread|
|PPP (D)||12/3 – 12/4||928 RV||45||37||Hickenlooper +8|
|Quinnipiac||11/15 – 11/18||1206 RV||44||40||Hickenlooper +4|
PPD Rating — TOSS-UP
Gov. Dan Malloy’s (D) approval rating actually took a turn for the better after the state rammed through more restrictive gun control following the Sandy Hook tragedy. Now, it looks as if the liberal honeymoon is over. The latest Quinnipiac poll shows Malloy trailing his 2010 Republican opponent Tom Foley, 43 percent to 40 percent. Malloy was on top of Republican Mark Boughton 43 percent – 36 percent, but the survey found that only 44 percent of voters thought Gov. Malloy deserved to be reelected.
Furthermore, a majority disapproved of his handling of the economy, taxes and the state’s budget, which taken together are one career-ending, three-fold combination.
We tend to think of Connecticut as a Democratic stronghold, because of Republican performance on the presidetnial level, but Republican governors held the governor’s office for 16 years in a row prior to Malloy winning in 2010. Voters in the Nutmeg State, however, have been more than willing to turn to the Republican Party on a gubernatorial basis, perhaps they like checks and balances on total liberal government.
The Republican primary will have a ton of influence on this race, and Foley doesn’t have the road paved, with state House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero and Republican state Sen. Minority Leader John McKinney (R) also mulling a bid. The two Quinnipiac polls did show Foley with an edge over his GOP challengers, most likely due to name recognition, but his politics fit the state better. Malloy, regardless, is in some trouble.
PPD Rating — TOSS-UP
Incumbent Republican Gov. Rick Scott is having a hard time, to be sure, and is rumored to spend upwards of $100 million to get himself reelected. Polling found the incumbent trailing former Gov. Charlie Crist, but then again, Crist was running competitive against Rubio for months until he was blown away.
Crist, the Republican-turned-Independent-turned-Democrat was keynoting Democratic events around the state and endorsing gay marriage before finally announcing his bid. Furthermore, he hired a campaign manager already, that is, until he quit after being introduced to donors. The news will be bad enough in an ad and in debates, but it is who that manager was that will play even worse in Florida. Crist hired Bill Hyers, who was fresh off his big New York City win managing the campaign of outright socialist Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio. That may play well in NYC, but not in Florida.
Prior to being fired, in a Washington Post write-up, Hyers downplayed Crist’s early lead in polls, claiming he would be “massively” outspent. Quite a good amount of Democrats are still worried about Crist’s chances of defeating Gov. Scott, for reasons other than being outspent, and the staff shake-up certainly won’t help growing calls for Sen. Bill Nelson to jump into the race to rescue his party. To calm their fears, Crist hired Steve Schale as a senior political consultant, who ran Barack Obama’s 2008 Florida campaign.
Gov. Scott has major problems with his own party, mainly from his flip-flop on Medicaid expansion under ObamaCare. Some say deciding to support the Obamacare provision was a way of improving his general election chances, but that certainly remains to be seen, particularly in light on the failed rollout and deep unpopularity of the law.
Alex Sink, who was Scott’s 2010 opponent had vocalized her hesitation to commit to another run, because of the still recent death of her husband. However, she has decided to run for the late C.W. Bill Young’s seat in congress. Florida Republicans figured they would just attack both Crist and Sink, pointing to the miserable economy when Crist was governor. As a resident of the state who is familiar with its politics, I know Scott can easily turn this around.
A UNF poll found that Scott had already begun to cut Crist down to a 4-point lead back in September, which was prior to the ObamaCare debacle and Crist’s little campaign woe. And now a new PPP survey, a Democratic pollster with a history of inaccurate and left-leaning survey results, found Crist leading by a statistically insignificant 2 percent.
“Charlie Crist’s campaign seems to be headed in the same direction he took Florida as governor – down and out,” quipped the Republican Governors Association in a press release sent shortly after the Tampa Bay Times first reported the campaign manager’s departure. From the recent data, as well as the propensity of Crist to fall on his face, we safely agree. Look for more of this to come.
|Poll||Date||Sample||Crist (D)||Scott (R)||Spread|
|PPD Average||9/30 – 1/27||–||44.3||39.7||Crist +4.6|
|Quinnipiac||1/22 – 1/27||1565 RV||46||38||Crist +8|
|PPP (D)||1/16 – 1/21||591 RV||43||41||Crist +2|
|UNF||9/30 – 10/8||526 RV||44||40||Crist +4|
PPD Rating — SAFE REPUBLICAN
No Democrat even wanted to run against Republican Gov. Nathan Deal in the Peach State, which is understandable for obvious reasons. Except, that is, for Democratic state Sen. Jason Carter, the grandson of former 1-term president Jimmy Carter. Carter hopes Georgia’s changing demographics can help him end the Republican Party’s 12-year domination of the state’s highest office.
The white proportion of voters shrunk 9 points to 66 percent from 2002 to 2010, and the dive was even more pronounced during presidential election years. Roughly 44 percent of Georgia residents are now minorities — which is up 7 points in just the past decade — and nonwhites could outnumber whites here by 2020.
“I wouldn’t be getting in this race if I didn’t think I was going to win,” Carter said. “I’m still mad that I finished second in my law school class. I’m not in this to finish second. I think we have every opportunity to win.”
Deal’s spokesman Brian Robinson said Thursday the governor intends to focus on “keeping Georgia the No. 1 place to do business,” a mantra he repeats around the state.
We think he has more than a good shot to do so. In the Atlanta Journal-Constitution survey, Gov. Deal is enjoying an early 9-point lead and a 54 percent approval rating. Even a plurality of Democrats approve of the job Deal is doing as governor.
Aside from hoping to take advantage of the minority population increase, Democrats hope that Carter can pound Deal on the economy. However, 59 percent of voters said they were satisfied with the way things are going in Georgia today, even as 58 percent characterized the state’s economy as either “not so good” or “poor.”
|Poll||Date||Sample||Deal (R)||Carter (D)||Spread|
|Atlanta Journal-Constitution||1/6 – 1/9||802 RV||47||38||Deal +9|
|InsiderAdvantage||1/6 – 1/6||529 RV||44||22||Deal +22|
|PPP (D)||8/2 – 8/5||520 RV||48||33||Deal +15|
|PPP (D)||2/15 – 2/18||602 RV||46||38||Deal +8|
|PPP (D)||11/30 – 12/2||729 RV||46||38||Deal +8|
PPD Rating – SAFE REPUBLICAN
Gov. Butch Otter [R] has said he will seek a third term in 2014, but rumors are floating that he very well might not. If that’s the case, Rep. Raúl Labrador (R) and Lt. Gov. Brad Little (R), are the party’s picks to replace Otter. Labrador immediately criticized Otter’s decision to set up the health insurance exchange as a part of Obamacare, and opposed the “Gang of 8” immigration reform group for a provision that would give immigrants benefits under the health care law. No, I am not joking and, yes, in Idaho. Either way, Democrats don’t have a chance in the Gem State.
PPD Rating – SAFE REPUBLICAN
Gov. Sam Brownback [R] signed legislation preventing federal agents from regulating firearms and ammunition manufactured and stored within Kansas state lines. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder (D) has threatened to sue the state over the law, which is a win-win for Brownback politically.
PPD Rating – TOSS-UP
In 2010, Tea Party-backed Republican Gov. Paul LePage won a three-way race for governor, barely defeating independent Eliot Cutler 38.1 percent to 36.4 percent, with Democrat Libby Mitchell pathetically at 19.1 percent. LePage will have to deal with Cutler again in 2014, but this time Democrats have a chance to take the independent out. On June 13, Rep. Mike Michaud (D) announced that he has formed an exploratory committee, and was polling about 4 percent – 6 percent ahead of LePage, with Cutler at the end of the pack. A March poll found LePage ahead of both Cutler and Michaud, but prophetically found Michaud’s favorability rating second only to Sen. Susan Collins [R] among Maine politicians.
A big boon to Michaud will be the fact he represents the more conservative of Maine’s two congressional districts, which happens to be the biggest congressional district east of the Mississippi. Polling is difficult to rely upon in this race, because most of the polling, thus far, has been from Democratic polling agencies. The problem I have with LePage’s chances, are that the excitement he had in 2010 does not seem to be there. Of course, that could all change with the implementation of ObamaCare in this state. But I will have to keep a close eye on that. For now, he is vulnerable, though polling better in recent surveys, no doubt due to ObamaCare.
|Poll||Date||Sample||Michaud (D)||LePage (R)||Cutler (I)||Spread|
|PPD Average||9/8 – 11/30||–||37.0||34.0||18.5||Michaud +3.0|
|Pan Atlantic SMS||11/25 – 11/30||400 LV||37||36||18||Michaud +1|
|PPP (D)||11/8 – 11/11||964 RV||38||36||15||Michaud +2|
|Critical Insights||9/27 – 9/30||600 LV||33||30||24||Michaud +3|
|MPRC (D)||9/8 – 9/10||652 LV||40||34||17||Michaud +6|
Maryland: Ex-Lt. Gov. Michael Steele (R) said he was considering the race, but has withdrawn from consideration. Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) is term-limited, there could be numerous candidates battling for each party’s nomination heading into the June 2014 primary. Harford County Executive David Craig (R) and Delegate Ron George (R) have officially entered on the Republican side, as well as former candidate for the U.S. Senate, Brian Vaeth. Charles Lollar, former Chairman of the Charles County Republican Central Committee and nominee for Maryland’s 5th congressional district in 2010, is also in making this a very crowded field. As for the Democrats, the dynamics of race and geography could determine the nominee. Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown (D), an African-American, has declared his candidacy, but Brown will not have the Democratic race to himself. Attorney General Doug Gansler (D), who is seen by many pundits as Brown’s chief rival for the Democratic nomination, has more than $5 million in his campaign coffers and has announced his bid, as well. Both Brown and Gansler are from metro Washington, D.C., and another D.C. area pol, state Del. Heather Mizeur (D), is also building organization for her run, which is now declared. Yet still, Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D) is also a potential candidate, and would be the only Baltimore-area Democrat in the race. In a potential three-or-four-candidate primary, having strong regional support could put Ruppersberger at an advantage. Also, Brown being the only black Democrat in a state with a large African-American population will no doubt give him an advantage to some extent. This is a hodge-posh, but of course, it is Maryland. LEANS DEMOCRAT
Massachusetts: Scott Brown (R) has decline, despite polls from UMass and PPP both showing Brown leading all potential Democratic opponents. Republicans have actually controlled the state’s governorship for 26 of the past 50 years. Prior to outgoing Gov. Deval Patrick’s (D) tenure, the GOP held the office for 16 consecutive years. Outside of Brown, 2010 nominee Charlie Baker (R) and 2012 MA-6 nominee Richard Tisei (R) have been looked at, but only Baker has declared. Treasurer Steve Grossman (D), and former federal health care official Donald Berwick (D) are both in, but they trail Baker by wide margins in recent surveys. A potential dark horse in this race could be Joseph P. Kennedy II, former U.S. Representative and Mr. name recognition. He is nothing but a potential as of now, but the only one competitive with Baker. We shall watch this closely, as well. TOSS-UP
Minnesota: Minnesota’s slight Democratic tilt and a general field of unknown GOP opponents, has Gov. Mark Dayton (D) well-positioned to win reelection in 2014. Dayton is blowing away potentials in polling, and the Minnesota GOP is straining to find solid opposition for both Dayton and Sen. Al Franken (D), who is also up for reelection in 2014. Minnesota is another state where the GOP could benefit from a stronger party structure. But they aren’t there, and it is costing them the state. LIKELY DEMOCRAT
Nebraska: With Gov. Dave Heineman (R) term-limited and Sen. Mike Johanns (R) retiring, there is a wide open GOP field in the Cornhusker State. State Sen. Charlie Janssen (R) was the first Republican to jump into the field, but his fellow state Sens. Beau McCoy (R) and Tom Carlson (R) were quick to join him. Auditor Mike Foley (R) has also entered the race, with Treasurer Don Stenberg (R), who most recently lost to now-Sen. Deb Fischer (R), is also a potential candidate. Speaker Mike Flood (R) has declined after speculation. On the Democratic side, Center for Rural Affairs Executive Director Chuck Hassebrook (D) has declared already. State Sen. Steve Lathrop has declined, and Lincoln Mayor Chris Beutler is still a potential candidate. However, it seems fairly reasonable to assume that conservative Nebraska will not elect a Democrat for either opening in 2014, especially with Barack Obama in the White House, who is deeply unpopular in the state. LIKELY REPUBLICAN
Nevada: The field of possible opponents for Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) is weak. The only potential candidate still considering entering the race is Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak (D), and if he runs he will have the Democratic field to himself. Of course, Sandoval is in a very strong position for reelection. It’s conceivable that Sandoval’s recent veto of universal background check legislation could be an issue in an increasingly Democratic state, but even Harry Reid won’t happily support any gun control measure representing the Silver State. LIKELY REPUBLICAN
New Hampshire: Crystal Ball has noted that since 1926, “only once has the Granite State sent a one-term gubernatorial incumbent packing.” In 2004, then-Gov. Craig Benson (R) was defeated after just a single two-year term. Governors in New Hampshire typically get two terms. In other words, Gov. Maggie Hassan (D) is in a good spot to win reelection in 2014 after winning the office in 2012. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D) also up for reelection in 2014, so Republicans may just focus more effort and resources on winning back the Senate seat. A Republican who was thinking over the race was Executive Councilor Chris Sununu (R), who is the son of ex-Gov. John H. Sununu (R) and brother of ex-Sen. John E. Sununu (R). Still, polling shows that history, more or less, is likely to repeat itself. LIKELY DEMOCRAT
New Mexico: Gov. Susana Martinez (R) is viewed by many in the GOP hierarchy as a rising star. And she is. She is a Hispanic governor of a state that President Obama won twice when it wasn’t even close by large margins, which is what it will take if the GOP hopes to win in 2016. In the last poll conducted, Martinez had an approval rating of 66% approval rating. Defeating her will be more than a heavy lift for Democrats in 2014. Attorney General Gary King (D), son of a former governor, recently and stupidly announced that he would not offer an opinion on whether New Mexico law permits gay marriage, a position Susana Martinez actually agreed with. State Sen. Linda Lopez (D) is a declared candidate in the race, but regardless of who the Democrats settle on, it will be difficult to defeat Martinez. LIKELY REPUBLICAN
New York: Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s (D) numbers have precipitated lately, but again, the state Republican Party is very weak. State Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin (R) has emerged as a possible challenger, but that doesn’t appear to be a factor. SAFE DEMOCRAT
PPD Rating – SAFE REPUBLICAN
Mary Fallin ® “gets good marks for handling the recent tornadoes in the state,” wrote Hastings Wyman of Southern Political Report. This despite the fact that Democrats attacked her for opposing storm shelters. Perhaps they should focus more on a candidate, because as of now, they don’t have a candidate.
Oregon: Gov. John Kitzhaber (D) “has not yet said if he will run for reelection next year and he has not been conducting extensive fundraising,” according to Oregonian political reporter Jeff Mapes. This rating should not be the rating I have to give, but it speaks, again, to the complete abdication on behalf of the Republican Party in so many parts of the country. SAFE DEMOCRAT
Gov. Tom Corbett (R) is the incumbent that I believe to be the single-most likeliest to lose, that is, if he even makes it to a general election. Corbett was badly hurt by the Penn State debacle. Corbett was the state attorney general before his 2010 gubernatorial election victory. Legendary football coach Joe Paterno may not be the last casualty, politically speaking, of the horrific happenings of abuse at Penn State. Corbett’s terrible polling numbers show him everyone, thus Democrats are in a great position to take this seat. Corbett refused to step aside, and his party has basically abandoned him. Look for this campaign to get very ugly, because Corbett is such an easy target and because he may only have the negative option. It’s a shame, as the Keystone State has a post-World War II tradition, which has rotated eight uninterrupted years of control of the governorship for each party. A comeback isn’t out of the question, but it is not looking too good. LEANS DEMOCRAT
Rhode Island: Gov. Lincoln Chafee is now a Democrat, as if we didn’t already know. The one-time moderate Republican, who lost his Senate seat back in 2006, went on to win the governorship as an independent in a three-way race in 2010. He was, however, running with President Obama’s (D) endorsement. Chafee is deeply unpopular, as most turncoats are in politics, and he is in no great position to even win his nomination. Providence Mayor Angel Taveras (D) is also in the race, and formidable state General Treasurer Gina Raimondo (D) is still weighing her options, as well. For the Republicans, Cranston Mayor Allan Fung (R) appears to be a favorite. Even though the Democratic primary is potentially ready to get ugly, the general election has a few problems for Republicans. I can see Chafee winning the primary and then losing the general, but that became harder when Moderate Party founder Ken Block, who many still blame for the Republicans losing the governorship in 2010, entered the race. His votes are certainly more likely to be peeled from the Republican candidate rather than from the Democratic candidate. LIKELY DEMOCRAT
South Carolina: It is strange, but not impossible for the Democrats to pull off an upset. State Sen. Vincent Sheheen (D), who ran a good race against Haley in 2010, is seeking a rematch. Haley is vulnerable, but she still remains a favorite given the state’s political leanings. LEANS REPUBLICAN
PPD Rating – SAFE REPUBLICAN
Gov. Bill Haslam’s (R) brother, Jimmy, is being investigated by the FBI for a scam at the Haslam family business, truck stop chain Pilot Flying J. For now, he has been able to detach himself from it altogether.
Vermont: Gov. Peter Shumlin (D) will be the chairman of the Democratic Governors Association this election cycle. Vermont State is one of only two governorships that is contested every two years, rather than every four. Shumlin — who was first elected in a close race in 2010, but then comfortably in 2012 — is safe. SAFE DEMOCRAT
PPD Rating — SAFE REPUBLICAN
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Cindy Hill saw her position marginalized by Gov. Matt Mead (R) and the state legislature, so she’s mounting a Tea Party primary challenge to Mead next year. Given that Hill’s criticisms of Mead so far seem to be relatively self-serving — dealing in particular with the loss of her own office’s power — we wonder how credible of a race she will run: A scathing report on her tenure at the Department of Education just came out this week, which could lead to her impeachment. Retired surgeon Taylor Haynes, who won about 7% of the vote as an independent write-in in 2010, could also run as a Republican. Former Gov. Dave Freudenthal (D) was reelected with nearly 70% of the vote as recently as 2006, but so far Democrats do not have a candidate and aren’t expected to mount a strong challenge.