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Incumbency Advantage in Gubernatorial Elections

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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).

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Remains of the Data

Which States Own the Best Track Record in Backing Eventual GOP Presidential Nominees?

Nine states (each with primaries) have an unblemished record in voting for the eventual Republican nominee since 1976 - and not all host contests on the back end of the calendar.

Political Crumbs

Evolving?

When Scott Walker "punted" back in February after being asked if he was comfortable with the idea of evolution he added, "That's a question a politician shouldn't be involved in one way or the other." However, it may very well be a question that is asked at one of the upcoming GOP debates this year. In South Carolina during the first GOP debate in 2012, FOX News' Juan Williams asked Tim Pawlenty, "Do you equate the teaching of creationism with the teaching of evolution as the basis for what should be taught for our nation's schools?" Pawlenty replied, "There should be room in the curriculum for study of intelligent design" but that it was up to the local school districts if it should be in a science class or comparative theory class. At the fourth Republican debate held in California, Jon Huntsman addressed the GOP becoming "anti-science" thusly: "Listen, when you make comments that fly in the face of what 98 out of 100 climate scientists have said, when you call into question the science of evolution, all I'm saying is that, in order for the Republican Party to win, we can't run from science. We can't run from mainstream conservative philosophy."


73 Months and Counting

January's preliminary Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers show Minnesota's unemployment rate of 3.7 percent was once again lower than Wisconsin's 5.0 percent. That marks the 73rd consecutive month in which Minnesota has boasted a lower jobless rate than its neighbor to the east dating back to January 2009 including each of the last 67 months by at least one point. The Gopher State has now edged Wisconsin in the employment border battle for 204 of the last 216 months dating back to February 1997. Wisconsin only managed a lower unemployment rate than Minnesota for the 12 months of 2008 during this 18-year span.


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