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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

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.


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