The old adage “all politics is local” seems to apply less often than ever. But it may make a comeback in gubernatorial races this year, as a few states that don’t have much swing at the national level have highly competitive races on their hands.
— Even as the number of “crossover” districts in Congress has shrunk, governor’s races have always been a little more independent from national politics. At this point, though, most states we think of as Democratic have Democratic governors, the Republican ones have Republican governors, and the swing states, appropriately, have a mix — with a GOP advantage after the 2010 wave election.
— 2014 could scramble the map, though. In addition to a number of highly competitive battleground state campaigns, some of the most likely governorships to change parties this year are in non-traditional locations. Long-unpopular Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn (D), for example, trails in his own party’s polling against Bruce Rauner (R). Quinn’s made comebacks before, but he’s also never faced an opponent as formidable as Rauner. Meanwhile, Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy (D) is locked in a tight rematch with Tom Foley (R) — again, according to Democrats’ own polling.
— But Democrats also have good opportunities in a few red states. There hasn’t been a public, live-caller survey in Kansas yet, but almost every robopoll in the past few months has shown state Rep. Paul Davis (D) leading controversial Gov. Sam Brownback (R). And in Georgia, nagging ethics stories continue to weigh down Gov. Nathan Deal (R) in a tough race versus Jimmy Carter‘s grandson, state Sen. Jason Carter (D).
Just a few years back, Democrats held the governorships of Wyoming and Oklahoma, and Republicans held five of six states in New England. We’re not expecting anything quite that dramatic in 2014, but the governor’s map could move back in that direction.
— Scott Bland
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President Obama became a surprise topic of contention toward the end of the Democratic debate, as Hillary Clinton reminded viewers that Sanders had challenged the progressive bona fides of President Obama in 2011 and suggested that someone might challenge him from the left. “The kind of criticism that we’ve heard from Senator Sanders about our president I expect from Republicans, I do not expect from someone running for the Democratic nomination to succeed President Obama,” she said. “Madame Secretary, that is a low blow,” replied Sanders, before getting in another dig during his closing statement: “One of us ran against Barack Obama. I was not that candidate.”
It’s all about the 1% and Wall Street versus everyone else for Bernie Sanders—even when he’s talking about race relations. Like Hillary Clinton, he needs to appeal to African-American and Hispanic voters in coming states, but he insists on doing so through his lens of class warfare. When he got a question from the moderators about the plight of black America, he noted that during the great recession, African Americans “lost half their wealth,” and “instead of tax breaks for billionaires,” a Sanders presidency would deliver jobs for kids. On the very next question, he downplayed the role of race in inequality, saying, “It’s a racial issue, but it’s also a general economic issue.”
It’s been said in just about every news story since New Hampshire: the primaries are headed to states where Hillary Clinton will do well among minority voters. Leaving nothing to chance, she underscored that point in her opening statement in the Milwaukee debate tonight, saying more needs to be done to help “African Americans who face discrimination in the job market” and immigrant families. She also made an explicit reference to “equal pay for women’s work.” Those boxes she’s checking are no coincidence: if she wins women, blacks and Hispanics, she wins the nomination.
Under pressure from a judge, the State Department will release about 550 of Hillary Clinton’s emails—“roughly 14 percent of the 3,700 remaining Clinton emails—on Saturday, in the middle of the Presidents Day holiday weekend.” All of the emails were supposed to have been released last month. Related: State subpoenaed the Clinton Foundation last year, which brings the total number of current Clinton investigations to four, says the Daily Caller.