Go to HHH home page.
Smart Politics
 


Republican Party Poised to Win Most Gubernatorial Seats in 90 Years

Bookmark and Share

Republicans on pace to eclipse the 24 seats won in 1928, 1966, and the Republican Revolution of 1994; GOP could challenge 100+ year Party mark of 29 seats won in 1920

This is the sixth in a series of historical reports leading up to the gubernatorial elections of 2010. Past reports have examined the historic Class of 2002 and its large number of first-term governors, the success rate of ex-governors trying to reclaim their office, plurality winning gubernatorial campaigns, states with the most living ex-governors, and what states give birth to the most governors.

As Democrats brace for a Republican pullback in the 2010 election cycle, the question on the minds of officeholders, party leaders, and D.C prognosticators is not whether the GOP will gain seats in the midterm elections across state and federal legislative and executive offices, but how many.

While the Republican Revolution of 1994 is perhaps most remembered for the tremendous gains the GOP made to take back the U.S. House (+54 seats), Republicans also won 24 of 36 gubernatorial races that year.

But in light of the current political environment and the latest horserace polls, political reporters may need to come up with a new term in 2010 that is even more grandiose than 'revolution' to describe the Republican advantage this November.

A Smart Politics analysis of nearly 1,800 gubernatorial elections since the beginning of the 20th Century finds that Republicans are poised to win more gubernatorial seats in 2010 than they have in any election cycle over the past 90 years.

The 24 seats won by the GOP during the Republican Revolution of 1994 was the most by the party since 1966, when Republicans won 24 of 35 contests during the mid-term pullback after the 1964 Democratic landslide. (The GOP also picked up 47 U.S. House seats in 1966).

Republicans had also previously notched 24 victories out of 35 gubernatorial contests during the presidential election year of 1928.

But Republican gubernatorial candidates are looking even stronger in 2010 than in 1928, 1966, or 1994, and could rival their best ever gubernatorial election cycle during the 20th and 21st Centuries: 1920.

During the 1920 presidential election cycle, the GOP won 29 of 35 governor's races, losing only six southern Democratic strongholds: Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Texas.

In 2010, 37 states will hold gubernatorial elections - one more than normal due to a special election in Utah after John Huntsman became U.S. Ambassador to China last summer.

The latest public opinion polls give Republicans the advantage in a whopping 28 of these states, including more than half by double digits (Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Nevada, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, and Wyoming).

The GOP also has more narrow advantages in the latest polling out of Alabama, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Maine, Michigan, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Texas, Vermont, and Wisconsin.

Democrats currently lead in the latest polling in just seven states (Arkansas, California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, and New York), with independent Lincoln Chafee narrowly ahead in Rhode Island, and Maryland's rematch between Democratic Governor Martin O'Malley and former Republican Governor Bob Ehrlich dead even according to the latest Rasmussen poll conducted last month.

Of course, a few of the Republican (and Democratic) advantages are within the respective poll's margin of error and, to be sure, these horserace numbers will fluctuate in the coming months, particularly after 21 of these 37 states hold their primaries in the coming weeks. (The matchups above reflect Democratic and Republican 'frontrunners').

In Larry Sabato's most recent Crystal Ball projections, 19 states are listed as 'leaning,' 'likely,' or 'safe' Republican, compared to only five for the Democrats (and Rhode Island leaning independent).

Of the 12 remaining 'toss-up' states, Republicans lead in the most recent horserace polls for nine of them: Illinois (+11, Rasmussen, June 7), Ohio (+7, Rasmussen, June 29), Maine (+7, Rasmussen, June 10), Vermont (+7, Rasmussen, June 17), Georgia (+4, Rasmussen, May 20), Colorado (+4, SurveyUSA, June 15-17), Connecticut (+2, Rasmussen, June 1), New Mexico (+2, Rasmussen, June 3), and Oregon (+2, Rasmussen, June 17).

Republicans would only have to win half of these 12 toss-up states, coupled with the 19 states in which they are favored, for their best showing since 1920.

Democrats have a narrow advantage in recent polling out of California (+6, Reuters/Ipsos, June 25-27) as well as in Minnesota, provided the non-DFL endorsed candidate, Mark Dayton, wins the Gopher State's August 10th primary (+3, SurveyUSA, June 14-16). (Republican Tom Emmer narrowly leads the other two DFL hopefuls, party-endorsed Margaret Anderson Kelliher and Matt Entenza).

Republicans have not enjoyed such rosy prospects in gubernatorial races for most of the last 110 years.

Of the 1,775 gubernatorial races from 1900 through 2009, Democrats won 923 (52.0 percent), Republicans won 831 (46.8 percent), and third parties won 21 (1.2 percent).

Over the past 11 decades, Republicans enjoyed their greatest success from 1900 through 1909, winning 109 of 181 gubernatorial contests during that 10-year span (60.2 percent).

Next best for the GOP was the 1920s, when the Party won 109 of 183 seats (59.6 percent).

Since the 1930s, the only decade of any kind of Republican dominance was the 1990s, when the Party won 78 of 144 races (54.2 percent).

Republicans were largely able to sustain their momentum from 1994 four years later in 1998, winning 23 seats, with Democrats winning 11, and third parties landing victories in Maine and Minnesota.

Due to their electoral lock on the south for generations, Democrats have been able to avoid the kind of sustained losses endured by the GOP during several stretches over the past century, such as the 1930s, when Democrats won 127 of 182 races (69.8 percent) or the 1970s, when Democrats won 100 of 152 races (65.8 percent).

(Note: while the number of states holding gubernatorial elections each year has varied across the last century (with fewer and fewer states holding elections every two years), there have been 40 cycles since 1900 with at least 30 states holding such elections and 33 cycles with at least 33 states holding gubernatorial contests).

Gubernatorial Victories by Party Across the Decades, 1900-2009

Decade
Dem
GOP
3rd
Total
% GOP
2000-2009
61
56
0
117
47.9
1990-1999
61
78
5
144
54.2
1980-1989
71
51
0
122
41.8
1970-1979
100
51
1
152
33.6
1960-1969
81
74
0
155
47.7
1950-1959
95
80
0
175
45.7
1940-1949
87
88
1
176
50.0
1930-1939
127
47
8
182
25.8
1920-1929
74
109
0
183
59.6
1910-1919
98
88
2
188
46.8
1900-1909
68
109
4
181
60.2
Total
923
831
21
1775
46.8
Note: Through the early 1970s, Louisiana's gubernatorial elections began with a primary every four years in the fall prior to the presidential election year and ended with the general election the next spring. Such data is tallied in the odd-numbered years. Data compiled by Smart Politics.

The best Democratic stretch was from 1931 through 1937, when the Party won an incredible 91 of 113 gubernatorial contests (80.5 percent), compared to just 16 for Republicans and six for third parties.

In addition to 1920, 1928, 1966, 1994, and 1998, Republicans also doubled up on the Democratic Party in 1902 (18-8-1), 1918 (22-10), 1950 (22-11), and 1952 (20-10),

Gubernatorial Victories by Party by Year, 1900-2009

Year
Democrat
Republican
Third
Total
2009
0
2
0
2
2008
7
4
0
11
2007
1
2
0
3
2006
20
16
0
36
2005
2
0
0
2
2004
6
5
0
11
2003
1
2
0
3
2002
14
22
0
36
2001
2
0
0
2
2000
8
3
0
11
1999
2
1
0
3
1998
11
23
2
36
1997
0
2
0
2
1996
7
4
0
11
1995
1
2
0
3
1994
11
24
1
36
1993
0
2
0
2
1992
8
4
0
12
1991
2
1
0
3
1990
19
15
2
36
1989
2
0
0
2
1988
5
7
0
12
1987
3
0
0
3
1986
18
18
0
36
1985
1
1
0
2
1984
5
8
0
13
1983
3
0
0
3
1982
27
9
0
36
1981
1
1
0
2
1980
6
7
0
13
1979
2
1
0
3
1978
21
15
0
36
1977
1
1
0
2
1976
9
5
0
14
1975
3
0
0
3
1974
27
8
1
36
1973
1
1
0
2
1972
11
7
0
18
1971
3
0
0
3
1970
22
13
0
35
1969
0
2
0
2
1968
8
13
0
21
1967
2
1
0
3
1966
11
24
0
35
1965
2
0
0
2
1964
17
8
0
25
1963
3
0
0
3
1962
21
14
0
35
1961
2
0
0
2
1960
15
12
0
27
1959
3
1
0
4
1958
26
8
0
34
1957
2
0
0
2
1956
16
14
0
30
1955
3
0
0
3
1954
19
15
0
34
1953
2
0
0
2
1952
10
20
0
30
1951
3
0
0
3
1950
11
22
0
33
1949
1
1
0
2
1948
20
13
0
33
1947
3
0
0
3
1946
14
20
0
34
1945
1
0
0
1
1944
14
17
0
31
1943
2
2
0
4
1942
14
18
1
33
1941
1
0
0
1
1940
17
17
0
34
1939
3
0
0
3
1938
15
18
0
33
1937
2
0
0
2
1936
27
4
3
34
1935
3
0
0
3
1934
25
7
2
34
1933
1
0
0
1
1932
29
5
1
35
1931
4
0
0
4
1930
18
13
2
33
1929
1
0
0
1
1928
11
24
0
35
1927
2
1
0
3
1926
13
20
0
33
1925
2
0
0
2
1924
14
22
0
36
1923
4
0
0
4
1922
20
13
0
33
1921
1
0
0
1
1920
6
29
0
35
1919
4
2
0
6
1918
10
22
0
32
1917
2
1
0
3
1916
16
19
0
35
1915
4
1
0
5
1914
16
14
1
31
1913
4
0
0
4
1912
20
13
0
33
1911
6
2
0
8
1910
16
14
1
31
1909
1
2
0
3
1908
13
19
1
33
1907
5
3
0
8
1906
10
17
1
28
1905
2
2
0
4
1904
12
21
0
33
1903
5
3
0
8
1902
8
18
1
27
1901
1
5
0
6
1900
11
19
1
31
Total
923
831
21
1775
Percent
52.0
46.8
1.2
100.0
Note: Through the early 1970s, Louisiana's gubernatorial elections began with a primary every four years in the fall prior to the presidential election year and ended with the general election the next spring. Such data is tallied in the odd-numbered years. Data compiled by Smart Politics.

Follow Smart Politics on Twitter.

Previous post: Independence Day in the United States and Beyond
Next post: Bachmann Has Raised $13.41 per 6th CD Likely Voter in 2010 Election Cycle to Date

4 Comments


  • The most amusing part of this Article is that the ONLY reason it was written is because of the nearly exclusive use of rightwing hack and Roger Ailes comrade Scotty Rasmussen's biased polling. 5 months out Rasmussen uses his mysterious Likely Voter ("LV") methodology to significantly oversample teabaggers. If you want to use Rasmussen, wait until the end of September, when he changes from trying to create a narrative to actually polling to predict results in November.

    Here is an idea: stop using Rasmussen polling 5 months out when it's sole purpose is to craft a narrative (see, i.e., the absurd results he got in Kentucky (showing insane whacko Rand Paul leading by 25, then SUSA and others come out showing a bare single digit lead, then a week later showing the same as other pollsters, meaning that either (i) Rand Paul went up 20 points and then down 20 points all in the span of 1 week, or (ii) Rasmussen bases polls on creating a narrative rather than actual predict winners).

    See also the results from the Rasmussen poll of CT-Sen in early June showing McMahon closing to within 2 points of Blumenthal. Then SUSA and Quinnipiac and R2K came out with polls showing Blumenthal still up by over 20, and within the next 2 days, Rasmussen again came out with a poll showing McMahon down by 20+, meaning that either (i) McMahon went up 20 points and then down 20 points all in the span of 1 week, or (ii) Rasmussen bases polls on creating a narrative rather than actual predict winners.

    Rasmussen is to polling what Fox News is to reporting, a paid for arm of the radical rightwing republican party.

  • I'm not sure how you came to the conclusion that the GOP are at an advantage in Connecticut: in the most recent poll, the Democrat leads in three out of four possible matchups. (see http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/elections/election_2010/election_2010_governor_elections/connecticut/election_2010_connecticut_governor)

  • > I'm not sure how you came to the conclusion that the GOP are
    > at an advantage in Connecticut:

    As stated in the report, while primaries will yet determine eventual general election matchups, this polling analysis looks at the GOP and Democratic frontrunners – in the case of Connecticut, that would be the Foley-Lamont matchup (which Rasmussen had Foley as +2 back in June). Lamont had a double-digit lead over Dan Malloy in a Quinnipiac poll in June. Connecticut is certainly one of the 'toss-up' states in 2010.

  • John from Ohio, you're on crack yah liberal, take another hit from your bong, and just wait until NOV, Kasich will be your new Governor and Portman your new Senator. The main reason your socialist idiot won the White House in '08 was because of the choice between the "Old Fart" and the "Handsome Young Prince", and the American Sheeple are so frigging retarded that they voted this closet Muslim into office, and he's the most Socialist President that we've ever had, and he brought with him the most disgusting bunch of lefties that he could find. They make me want to VOMIT. I'd take back ole Slick Willy any day than Obama. The real Americans have woken up, and we will prevail in 2010 and 2012. If we don't John, then America will cease to exist as the America that you and I grew up in. The illegal immigrants will take over, and the muslims will outnumber us and usher in their Sharia law, yah I said Sharia law, go look it up if you don't know what it is. You better read your Bible and your Constitution, if you have either, while it's still legal to do so, before we get overran by those that want to take both away.

    We are teetering on the brink of an economic disaster of unprecedented proportions, we must act now to fix it and STOP OBAMA AND THE NEW WORLD ORDER, see infowars dot com for more info. Thanks, and May God Bless America.

  • Leave a comment


    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.


    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