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 FREE 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 pollster accuracy), state demographics and political leanings (including Partisan Voting Index (PVI), candidate ideology vs. state and party ID/registration), 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 is true for the most part. 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.
So, if you see polling in our expanded analysis articles or below the table that does not necessarily comport with the rating assigned, then these variables would be the reason why. While we assign the following ratings to races — Toss-Up, Leans, Likely and Safe — they represent actual numerical values that reflect a probability or likelihood of outcome. On the election projection model, a race that scores a likelihood from 45 – 55 percent is assigned a “Toss-Up” rating; 56 to 64 percent is assigned a “Leans” ratings; 65 to 84 percent is assigned a “Likely” rating; 85 to 100 percent is assigned a “Safe” rating.
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 leanings 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 switching completely over to a 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 frequently. Otherwise, below the table, brief state-by-state analysis is available.)
[table id=10 /]
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 — LEANS 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. Polling is notoriously terrible in the Last Frontier and, with the Senate race moving decidedly toward the Republicans, Walker has an uphill battle still.
PPD Rating — LEANS 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||Ross (D)||Hutchinson (R)||Spread|
|PPD Average||2/4 – 4/4||—||43.3||42.0||Ross +1.3|
|Talk Business Poll*||4/3 – 4/4||1068 LV||44||43||Ross +1|
|Impact Management Group (R)||2/10 – 2/10||1202 RV||42||42||Tie|
|Rasmussen Reports||2/4 – 2/5||500 LV||44||41||Ross +3|
|Impact Management Group (R)||10/24 – 10/24||911 RV||37||40||Hutchinson +3|
|The Arkansas Poll||10/10 – 10/17||LV||31||35||Hutchinson +4|
|Talk Business Poll||10/8 – 10/8||603 LV||37||41||Hutchinson +4|
|Harper (R)||8/4 – 8/5||587 LV||38||46||Hutchinson +8|
|Talk Business Poll||2/20 – 2/20||675 RV||38||43||Hutchinson +5|
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 — 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.
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
Former Sen. Scott Brown declined to run in the gubernatorial contest in Massachusetts and opted instead to challenge Sen. Shaheen in his native state of New Hampshire, despite polls from UMass and PPP both showing Brown leading all potential Democratic opponents. While we tend to view the state as solidly blue, particularly since the GOP has not carried the state since Ronald Reagan in 1988 at the presidential level, 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 declared he will take another swing at the ball. Treasurer Steve Grossman (D), and former federal health care official Donald Berwick (D) were both in, but they trail Baker by wide margins in recent surveys and couldn’t keep pace with Martha Coakley.
Coakley has had a solid lead for some time, though she isn’t exactly generating enthusiasm, because she cannot break the low 40s. In a liberal state like Massachusetts, the warranted rating is “Leans Democrat,” for now.
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
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
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.
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.