Go to HHH home page.
Smart Politics
 


Incumbency Advantage in Gubernatorial Elections

Bookmark and Share

It was not much of a surprise when all three incumbent governors from the Upper Midwest (Tim Pawlenty, Mike Rounds, and Jim Doyle) won their respective re-election bids last November (at least not to Smart Politics, who projected as such). The incumbency advantage is not only a prized possession of congressman on Capitol Hill, but also state executives across the nation.

In a study of the nearly 130 gubernatorial races in the U.S. since 1998, incumbents have won 86 percent of them (69 of 80 races). Democrats, who have made inroads in winning back several governorships in recent years, have been particularly successful—with incumbents winning 27 and losing only 4. Republican incumbents have won 41 of 48 re-election bids, and independent incumbents are 1-0 during this span.

On rare occasion, a particularly unpopular governor may not seek re-election. What is usually the case, however, is that popular (Bill Owens of Colorado, 2006) and unpopular (Bob Taft of Ohio in 2006) executives are precluded from running for re-election due to term limits for their office.

In such cases, open races have proved to be very competitive in recent years. Since 1998, the party controlling the governor's office has changed hands more than 50 percent of the time. In 49 races, a change in party has resulted in 26 elections (53 percent).

Previous post: Edwards Campaign Experiences Bump Nationally After Wife's Medical Announcement
Next post: Smart Politics Live Blogging At McCollum Event

Leave a comment


Remains of the Data

Is There a Presidential Drag On Gubernatorial Elections?

Only five of the 20 presidents to serve since 1900 have seen their party win a majority of gubernatorial elections during their administrations, and only one since JFK.

Political Crumbs

Strike Three for Miller-Meeks

Iowa Republicans had a banner day on November 4th, picking up both a U.S. Senate seat and one U.S. House seat, but Mariannette Miller-Meeks' defeat in her third attempt to oust Democrat Dave Loebsack in the 2nd CD means the GOP will not have a monopoly on the state's congressional delegation in the 114th Congress. The loss by Miller-Meeks (following up her defeats in 2008 and 2010) means major party nominees who lost their first two Iowa U.S. House races are now 0 for 10 the third time around in Iowa history. Miller-Meeks joins Democrat William Leffingwell (1858, 1868, 1870), Democrat Anthony Van Wagenen (1894, 1912 (special), 1912), Democrat James Murtagh (1906, 1914, 1916), Democrat Clair Williams (1944, 1946, 1952), Democrat Steven Carter (1948, 1950, 1956), Republican Don Mahon (1966, 1968, 1970), Republican Tom Riley (1968, 1974, 1976), Democrat Eric Tabor (1986, 1988, 1990), and Democrat Bill Gluba (1982, 1988, 2004) on the Hawkeye State's Three Strikes list.


Larry Pressler Wins the Silver

Larry Pressler may have fallen short in his long-shot, underfunded, and understaffed bid to return to the nation's upper legislative chamber, but he did end up notching the best showing for a non-major party South Dakota U.S. Senate candidate in more than 90 years. Pressler won 17.1 percent of the vote which is the best showing for an independent or third party U.S. Senate candidate in the state since 1920 when non-partisan candidate Tom Ayres won 24.1 percent in a race won by Republican Peter Norbeck. Overall, Pressler's 17.1 percent is good for the second best mark for a non-major party candidate across the 35 U.S. Senate contests in South Dakota history. Independent and third party candidates have appeared on the South Dakota U.S. Senate ballot just 25 times over the last century and only three have reached double digits: Pressler in 2014 and Ayres in 1920 and 1924 (12.1 percent). Pressler's defeat means he won't become the oldest candidate elected to the chamber in South Dakota history nor notch the record for the longest gap in service in the direct election era.


more POLITICAL CRUMBS

Humphrey School Sites
CSPG
Humphrey New Media Hub

Issues />

<div id=
Abortion
Afghanistan
Budget and taxes
Campaign finances
Crime and punishment
Economy and jobs
Education
Energy
Environment
Foreign affairs
Gender
Health
Housing
Ideology
Immigration
Iraq
Media
Military
Partisanship
Race and ethnicity
Reapportionment
Redistricting
Religion
Sexuality
Sports
Terrorism
Third parties
Transportation
Voting