Governor Races: Advantage Democrats

Washington Matters

Governor Races: Advantage Democrats

Democrats will retain their edge over Republicans in the number of governorships after the election. There are only two races in which the outcome seems in doubt. 

The balance of power among governorships -- currently 28 Democrats and 22 Republicans -- will stay the same or very nearly the same after the election, according to our most recent review of races.

There are only 11 contests this year, far fewer than the 36 held in 2006.

Democrats are well positioned to retain the governor's mansion in North Carolina, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire and West Virginia. They have one seat that is at risk. The race in Washington is close, with incumbent Christine Gregoire facing a rematch with Republican Dino Rossi, who lost to her in 2004 by a mere 129 votes of 2.74 million cast -- and only after a long and contested recount. She rates a slight edge this year and will benefit from wider name recognition and constituent service in the last few years.


Republicans look safe to keep power in Indiana, Vermont, North Dakota and Utah. They, too, have one close race, Missouri, where GOP Gov. Matt Blunt is retiring. State Atty. Gen. Jay Nixon, D, faces GOP Rep. Kenny Hulshof in a race that is a toss-up for now. Some presidential coattails, even if slight, could be a factor. Both John McCain and Barack Obama are working the state hard in the final weeks.

There are two off-year governor elections in 2009, one in Virginia and the other in New Jersey (both currently Democratic held), and another 36 in 2010. Results, including this year's, will factor large in 2010 when congressional redistricting plans are fashioned by state legislatures and governors in each state. This, in turn, will change races for Congress in 2012.