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Gubernatorial Incumbents Sail

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Last November, Democrats picked up 6 governorships, held all 13 seats with Democratic incumbents, and retained their one (and only) open seat. But the lesson from Election 2006 is not so much a story of democratic dominance in the fight for the governor's mansion as it is the power of incumbency—Republican incumbents also won 12 of 13 races (92 percent).

Since 1998 there have been 129 gubernatorial elections in the United States. Incumbents have successfully defended 68 of 79 races (86 percent). The success rate of Republican incumbents (41 of 48, 85 percent) is virtually identical to that of Democratic incumbents (27 or 31, 87 percent).

When parties lose control of the governor's mansion, it is usually when there is an open race. In fact, party control has shifted in more than half of the open seat gubernatorial races since 1998 (25 of 48, 52 percent). Democrats (9 of 18, 50 percent) and Republicans 14 of 30, 47 percent) fare about equally well in finding a fellow party member to replace their outgoing state executive.

It is true, of course, that unpopular governors sometimes avoid defeat by not running (e.g. Bob Taft of Ohio in 2006), thus boosting the success rate of incumbents listed above. But that's not always the case—Ernie Fletcher (R-KY) is currently boasting an approval rating in the low 30s, and has launched his re-election bid for this fall's race in Kentucky.

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Remains of the Data

Kevin McCarthy Becomes Least Tenured Floor Leader in US House History

At less than four terms, McCarthy has served 423 fewer days in the chamber than any floor leader in U.S. House history and almost 10 years less than the average leader.

Political Crumbs

The Second Time Around

Former Republican Congressman Bob Beauprez became the seventh major party or second place gubernatorial candidate in Colorado to get a second chance at the office when he narrowly won his party's nomination last month. Two of the previous six candidates were successful. Democrat Alva Adams lost his first gubernatorial bid to Benjamin Eaton in 1884, but was victorious two years later against William Meyer. Democrat Charles Johnson placed third in 1894 behind Republican Albert McIntyre and Populist incumbent Governor David Waite but returned as the Fusion (Democrat/Populist) nominee in 1898 and defeated GOPer Henry Wolcott. Gubernatorial candidates who received a second chance but lost both general elections include Democrat Thomas Patterson (1888, 1914), Progressive Edward Costigan (1912, 1914), Republican Donald Brotzman (1954, 1956), and Republican David Strickland (1978, 1986).


How Are the Plurality Winners Doing?

Nearly 40 percent of plurality winners of U.S. Senate elections lose their seat in the next election cycle. Will that happen to any of the three such incumbents on the ballot in 2014? Recent polling suggests Democrats Al Franken of Minnesota, Mark Begich of Alaska, and Jeff Merkley of Oregon all currently have an advantage over their nominated/frontrunning GOP opponents, but each is flirting with plurality support once again. Franken led endorsed GOPer Mike McFadden 48 to 42 percent in a new SurveyUSA poll while the polling group showed Merkley with a 50 to 32 percent advantage over Monica Wehby. Begich led each of the three major GOP candidates in last month's PPP survey: 42 to 37 percent over Daniel Sullivan, 41 to 33 percent over Mead Treadwell, and 43 to 27 percent over Joe Miller.


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