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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