SPOTLIGHT

Governor Map Includes Some Non-Traditional Target States

HARTFORD, CT - APRIL 4: Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy speaks during the gun control law signing event at the Connecticut Capitol pril 4, 2013 in Hartford, Connecticut, After more than 13 hours of debate, the Connecticut General Assembly approved the gun-control bill early April 4, that proponents see as the toughest-in-the-nation response to the Demember 14, 2012 Newtown school shootings. (Photo by Christopher Capozziello/Getty Images)
National Journal
Scott Bland
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Scott Bland
Aug. 1, 2014, 7:45 a.m.

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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