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Projections: 2012 Gubernatorial Races

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Western states to provide high drama late Tuesday down the ballot

montanaseal10.pngAlthough the presidential race and key U.S. Senate contests will steal the headlines Tuesday evening, there are nonetheless probably going to be a few tight gubernatorial races that may not be called until Wednesday (or beyond).

Out West, toss-up open seat races in Montana and Washington could go down to the wire.

In Washington, Democratic congressman Jay Inslee seeks to extend the longest Republican gubernatorial drought in the nation over GOP nominee Rob McKenna.

The State of Washington last elected a Republican governor in 1980 (John Spellman) and only the current Democratic losing streak in South Dakota, where a Democrat last won in 1974, is longer across the 50 states (Democrats also last won the governor's mansion in Utah in 1980).

In Montana, as popular term-limited Democrat Brian Schweitzer exits the office, Democratic State Attorney General Steve Bullock and former GOP U.S. Representative Rick Hill square off in another close race west of the Mississippi.

The strength of the vote for Libertarian nominee Ron Vandevender in the Treasure State may be determinative, as it was in Montana's closely-decided 2006 U.S. Senate race that went to the Democrats. Hill, however, has led Bullock in most autumn polling.

A third open seat race in New Hampshire, between Democrat Maggie Hassan and Republican Ovide Lamontagne, should also be competitive with only a few of the remaining eight gubernatorial races likely to be decided by single digits (e.g. Indiana, Missouri, possibly North Carolina).

Smart Politics 2012 Gubernatorial Projections

State
Projection
Status
Delaware
Jack Markell (inc.)
Democratic hold
Indiana
Mike Pence
Republican hold
Missouri
Jay Nixon (inc.)
Democratic hold
Montana
Steve Bullock
Democratic hold
New Hampshire
Maggie Hassan
Democratic hold
North Carolina
Pat McCrory
Republican pick-up
North Dakota
Jack Dalrymple (inc.)
Republican hold
Utah
Gary Herbert (inc.)
Republican hold
Vermont
Peter Shumlin (inc.)
Democratic hold
Washington
Jay Inslee
Democratic hold
West Virginia
Earl Ray Tomblin (inc.)
Democratic hold

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Remains of the Data

No Free Passes: States With 2 Major Party Candidates in Every US House Race

Indiana has now placed candidates from both major parties on the ballot in a nation-best 189 consecutive U.S. House races, with New Hampshire, Minnesota, Idaho, and Montana also north of 100 in a row.

Political Crumbs

Gubernatorial Highs and Lows

Two sitting governors currently hold the record for the highest gubernatorial vote ever received in their respective states by a non-incumbent: Republican Matt Mead of Wyoming (65.7 percent in 2010) and outgoing GOPer Dave Heineman of Nebraska (73.4 percent in 2006). Republican Gary Herbert of Utah had not previously won a gubernatorial contest when he notched a state record 64.1 percent for his first victory in 2010, but was an incumbent at the time after ascending to the position in 2009 after the early departure of Jon Huntsman. Meanwhile, two sitting governors hold the record in their states for the lowest mark ever recorded by a winning gubernatorial candidate (incumbent or otherwise): independent-turned-Democrat Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island (36.1 percent in 2010) and Democrat Terry McAuliffe of Virginia (47.8 percent in 2013).


An Idaho Six Pack

Two-term Idaho Republican Governor Butch Otter only polled at 39 percent in a recent PPP survey of the state's 2014 race - just four points ahead of Democratic businessman A.J. Balukoff. Otter's low numbers reflect his own struggles as a candidate (witness his weak primary win against State Senator Russ Fulcher) combined with the opportunity for disgruntled Idahoans to cast their votes for one of four third party and independent candidates, who collectively received the support of 12 percent of likely voters: Libertarian John Bujak, the Constitution Party's Steve Pankey, and independents Jill Humble and Pro-Life (aka Marvin Richardson). The six candidate options in a gubernatorial race sets an all-time record in the Gem State across the 46 elections conducted since statehood. The previous high water mark of five candidates was reached in seven previous cycles: 1902, 1904, 1908, 1912, 1914, 1966, and 2010.


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