Saturday, November 01, 2014

Election 2014 Handicapping: Gubernatorial Races

Post-Election Update: I'm leaving the original text of this post intact -- not deleting or altering any existing text. What I am going to do is ADD text to illuminate where I was right or wrong. Where I was wrong, I will add the note "WRONG! BOOM!" -- the "boom" being an homage to Eric Dondero of "Libertarian" Republican. Where I was right, I'll just add the note "RIGHT." And of course, I'll add a large admission of error to the top here, like this:


This post may not look like I was wrong very much of the time, because I picked a winner for all 36 gubernatorial elections. But if you look at the elections that were actually competitive, not just the obvious ones, I was mostly wrong. And in at least two cases (Vermont and Maryland), I didn't think they were going to be competitive. But Maryland switched parties to GOP and Vermont came out razor-thin and will probably end up decided by the legislature for lack of a candidate getting 50%+. So yeah, I completely blew it.

Original post with the additions noted above, below the dashed line:


I made my final US Senate predictions a full month ahead of the election, but only got around this week to analyzing gubernatorial races. And now, with the election only three days away, I need to go ahead and publish, even though I haven't had time to dig more into the Libertarian and other third party campaigns and their likely effects on outcomes as I had hoped to do. Sorry about that. So, here we go.

Current partisan balance of US governorships: 29 Republican, 21 Democrat.

Number of governorships up for election this year: 36.

My general prediction: Net loss for the Republicans, net gain for the Democrats. Republicans wind up with 24.5 governorships, Democrats with 25.5 (see my specific Alaska prediction for the half-a-governorship explanation). WRONG! BOOM!

Specific state-by-state predictions:

Alabama -- Republican incumbent Robert Bentley cruises to re-election vs. Democrat challenger Parker Griffith. No effect on balance. RIGHT

Alaska --  "Independent" (former Republican running as an independent with a Democratic running mate, having "merged campaigns" when the Democrats pulled their slate) Bill Walker unseats Republican incumbent Sean Parnell. Effect on balance: Given the partisan weirdness, I'm going to call it Republicans minus 0.5, Democrats plus 0.5. PROBABLY RIGHT, FINAL RESULTS PENDING

Arizona --  Republican incumbent Jan Brewer is term-limited, but GOP nominee Doug Ducey won't sweat it, easily defeating Democratic nominee Fred DuVal. No effect on balance. RIGHT

Arkansas -- Democratic incumbent Mike Beebe is term-limited and this governorship will change parties as Republican nominee Asa Hutchinson defeats Democratic nominee Mike Ross. Effect on balance: Republicans +1, Democrats -1. RIGHT

California -- Incumbent Democrat Jerry Brown will win his fourth (non-consecutive) term as governor, whipping Republican challenger Neel Kashkari by 20 points or so. No effect on balance. RIGHT

Colorado -- Democratic incumbent John Hickenlooper fends off Republican challenger Bob Beauprez. This race looks like a nail-biter and will probably be a lot closer than the last time Beauprez ran (he lost by 16 points), but I think Hickenlooper will pull it off. No effect on balance. PROBABLY RIGHT, FINAL RESULTS PENDING

Connecticut -- Another tossup. Once again, I'm picking the incumbent Democrat (Dan Malloy) to hold out against a Republican challenger (Tom Foley). No effect on balance.  PROBABLY RIGHT, FINAL RESULTS PENDING

Florida --  Six months ago I'd have considered Republican incumbent Rick Scott a near-lock for re-election. Now I think that Democrat (previously "independent" Senate candidate and before that Republican governor) Charlie Crist will win the race. And I think that Libertarian nominee Adrian Wyllie will poll 5% or better. Effect on balance:  Republicans -1, Democrats +1. WRONG! BOOM!

Georgia -- Likely to go to a runoff with incumbent Republican Nathan Deal and Democratic challenger Jason Carter (grandson of former US president Jimmy Carter) both polling in the mid-40s and Libertarian Andrew Hunt at 4%. Carter will win the runoff. Effect on balance: Republicans -1, Democrats +1. WRONG! BOOM!

Hawaii -- Incumbent Democrat Neil Abercombie was defeated in the primary. Democratic nominee David Ige will defeat Republican nominee Duke Aiona, Libertarian Jeff Davis and independent Mufi Hannemann. No effect on balance. RIGHT

Idaho -- A way janky race, with rumors that Republican incumbent Butch Otter may be in trouble but so many candidates (five challengers, at least three of them held by the conventional wisdom to "hurt Otter") and so little multi-candidate polling that anything could be coming together out in the woods. But I predict Otter will cruise. No effect on balance. RIGHT

Illinois --  The polling has Republican nominee Bruce Rauner within the margin of error of Democrat incumbent Pat Quinn. But I don't think it's a tossup. The Democratic machine in Cook County will lock it in for Quinn by hook or crook. No effect on balance. WRONG! BOOM!

Iowa --  Incumbent Republican Terry Branstad has this one sewn up tight versus Democratic challenger Jack Hatch, Libertarian Lee Hieb and Socialist Workers Party candidate David Rosenfeld. No effect on balance. RIGHT

Kansas -- Republican incumbent Sam Brownback goes down to Democratic challenger Paul Davis. Libertarian candidate Keen Umbehr may rack up more votes than the winning difference. Effect on balance: Republicans -1, Democrats +1. WRONG! BOOM!

Maine -- I thought that Republican incument Paul LePage would pull off his re-election bid but the last week has been hard on him. First, independent Eliot Cutler pulled a "sort of but not quite drop out, sort of but not quite endorse the Democrat" stunt; then LePage made an ass of himself in public trying to exploit the Ebola panic and essentially threatening the life of nurse Kacie Hickox over her refusal to accept quarantine. Democrat Mike Michaud will be the next governor of Maine. Effect on balance: Republicans -1, Democrats +1. WRONG! BOOM!

Maryland -- Democrat incumbent Martin O'Malley is term-limited (and considering a 2016 presidential run anyway). The race is a yawner: Democratic nominee Anthony Brown will easily defeat Republican challenger Larry Hogan. No effect on balance. WRONG! BOOM!

Massachusetts -- Democratic incumbent Deval Patrick isn't running for re-election and this governorship will likely change parties. Republican nominee Charlie Baker will defeat Democratic nominee Martha Coakley. Effect on balance: Republicans +1, Democrats -1. RIGHT

Michigan -- Closer than you might expect, but Republican incumbent Rick Snyder looks set to defeat Democratic challenger Mark Schauer. No effect on balance. RIGHT

Minnesota --  Democratic incumbent Mark Dayton easily defeats Republican challenger Jeff Johnson. No effect on balance. RIGHT

Nebraska --  Republican incumbent Dave Heineman is term-limited, but will be succeeded by Republican nominee Pete Ricketts who leads Democrat Chuck Hassebrook by a pretty consistent 20 points in the polls. No effect on balance. RIGHT

Nevada -- Another yawner. Republican incumbent Brian Sandoval delivers a 20-plus-point whipping to Democratic challenger Robert Goodman. No effect on balance. RIGHT

New Hampshire -- Democratic incumbent Maggie Hassan fends off Republican challenger Walt Havenstein. No effect on balance. RIGHT

New Mexico -- Yet another incumbent who's not in trouble: Republican Susana Martinez won't have to stay up late Tuesday to learn that she beat Democratic challenger Gary King. No effect on balance. RIGHT

New York -- Have I mentioned yet that incumbents tend to enjoy an advantage? Democrat Andrew Cuomo handily defeats Republican challenger Rob Astorino. The only interesting question in this race is whether or not Libertarian candidate Michael McDermott will break the 50k vote barrier to secure permanent ballot access for his party. No effect on balance. RIGHT

Ohio -- As far ahead as incumbent Republican John Kasich is over his Democratic opponent, Ed Fitzgerald, you wouldn't have thought the Ohio GOP would have had to go so far out of its way to rig the election by keeping Libertarian Charlie Earl off the ballot. Kasich will win dishonestly when he could have won honestly. No effect on balance. RIGHT

Oklahoma -- Republican incumbent Mary Fallin easily retains office versus Democratic challenger Joe Dorman. No effect on balance. RIGHT

Oregon --  Not even some juicy sex scandals have been enough to drag down Democratic incumbent John Kitzhaber. Republican challenger Dennis Richardson won't come close. No effect on balance. RIGHT

Pennsylvania -- Finally, another incumbent who isn't safe! Republican governor Tom Corbett will be packing to move after losing to Democratic challenger Tom Wolf. Effect on balance: Republicans -1, Democrats +1. RIGHT

Rhode Island -- Democratic (formerly independent, formerly Republican) governor Lincoln Chafee is retiring. The race is closer than I expected it to get, but I'm still picking Democratic nominee Gina Raimondo to beat Republican nominee Allan Fung. No effect on balance. RIGHT

South Carolina -- It's Republican incumbent Nikki Haley in a walk versus Democratic challenger Vincent Sheheen. No effect on balance. But I wouldn't be surprised to see Haley on the 2016 GOP presidential ticket. No effect on balance. RIGHT

South Dakota -- And even less to see here. Republican incumbent Dennis Daugaard leads his Democratic opponent, Susan Wismer, by an average of 30 points. No effect on balance. RIGHT

Tennessee -- If Bill Haslam was a Democrat, Eric Dondero over at "Libertarian" Republican would be musing that his name is "Muslim-sounding." Since he's a Republican, that's OK. And he's safe for re-election, too, outpolling Democrat Charles Brown by 26 points (good luck to Libertarian candidate Daniel Lewis!). No effect on balance. RIGHT

Texas -- Texas remains red, as it has since Ann Richards. Rick Perry is retiring and Republican nominee Greg Abbott is well ahead of Democratic challenger Wendy "Abortion Barbie" Davis. No effect on balance. RIGHT

Vermont -- Incumbent Democrat Peter Shumlin is secure versus Republican challenger Scott Milne. And against five other challengers, including Libertarian Dan Feliciano. No effect on balance.  PROBABLY RIGHT, BUT BARELY (RACE GOES TO LEGISLATURE BECAUSE NO CANDIDATE GOT 50%)

Wisconsin -- The polls have Republican incumbent and political careerist Scott Walker beating Democratic nominee and successful businesswoman Mary Burke, but almost always within the margin of error. The polls are close enough that this comes down to turnout and the Democrats are just plain better at turnout. Burke will win on Tuesday, putting an end to Walker's rumored presidential aspirations. Effect on balance: Republicans -1, Democrats +1. WRONG! BOOM!

Wyoming -- No surprises here -- Wyoming isn't a good place to be a Democratic office-seeker. Republican incumbent wins by 20 points or so over Democrat Pete Gosar. RIGHT

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