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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

Plurality-Winning Governors Elected At Century-Long High Water Mark

The rate of gubernatorial candidates elected without the support of a majority of voters is at its highest level since the 1910s.

Political Crumbs

Seeing Red

Congressman Nick Rahall's failed bid for a 20th term in West Virginia this cycle, combined with a narrow loss by Nick Casey to Alex Mooney in Shelley Moore Capito's open seat, means that West Virginia Democrats will be shut out of the state's U.S. House delegation for the first time in over 90 years. The Republican sweep by two-term incumbent David McKinley in the 1st CD, Mooney in the 2nd, and Evan Jenkins over Rahall in the 3rd marks the first time the GOP has held all seats in the chamber from West Virginia since the Election of 1920. During the 67th Congress (1921-1923) all six seats from the state were controlled by the GOP. Since the Election of 1922, Democrats have won 76 percent of all U.S. House elections in the Mountain State - capturing 172 seats compared to 54 for the GOP.


Home Field Advantage?

When the 114th Congress convenes in a few days, Maine will be represented by one home-grown U.S. Representative: Waterville-born Republican Bruce Poliquin. With the departure of Millinocket-born Mike Michaud, who launched a failed gubernatorial bid, the Pine Tree State was poised to send a House delegation to D.C. without any Maine-born members for the first time since 1821. Three-term U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree (born in Minnesota) coasted to reelection as expected, however Poliquin edged Kentucky-born Emily Cain by 5.3 points to keep the streak alive. Since 1876, a total of 208 of the 222 candidates elected to the nation's lower legislative chamber from the state have been born in Maine, or 94 percent.


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