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Angry voters look to vulnerable governors

New USA Today/ Gallup poll numbers released this morning show that two-thirds of Americans describe themselves as "angry" about the state of the country.

While much the focus of coverage of voter discontent has centered on Congress -- 60 percent said they would prefer to elect a candidate with no congressional experience(!) -- those who may feel the sting most directly are the nation's governors.

Across the country governors have spent the last two years watching their political capital evaporate amid massive budget shortfalls that have left them with two terrible options to balance budgets: raise taxes or cut services.

Friday Line

Approval ratings -- for Democratic and Republican governors -- have, not surprisingly, plummeted in the face of those tough decisions, a trend that has served to broaden an already gigantic gubernatorial playing field.

The net result? More volatility and the potential for surprising results -- like Idaho Gov. Butch Otter's (R) not-terribly-convincing 55 percent win in his primary fight earlier this week.

Our Line on the 15 races most likely to switch sides this fall is below. As always, your thoughts on the Line are welcome in the comments section.

To the Line!

Coming onto the Line: Ohio, Florida
Coming off the Line: Wisconsin, Arizona

15. Ohio (Democratic-controlled): Gov. Ted Strickland has stopped his free-fall of several months ago and began to land some major hits on former Rep. John Kasich (R) -- an effort aided by ads sponsored by the Democratic Governors Association that outline the former Congressman's work on Wall Street. The state's economy -- and the measures Strickland has had to put in place to balance the budget -- make this a near-certain nail biter, however. (Previous ranking: N/A)

14. California (Republican-controlled): The rise, fall and re-rise of former eBay CEO Meg Whitman in her Republican primary fight against state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner suggests a very volatile electorate not entirely sure what they want. After a major scare, Whitman has asserted herself -- and run to the right on immigration -- and is now very likely to win (and win easily) on June 8. State Attorney General Jerry Brown awaits. (Previous ranking: 14)

13. Florida (R/I): Former health care executive Rick Scott's free-spending on television has put him on the map -- even if he still trails state Attorney General Bill McCollum by 20+ points in advance of the Aug. 24 GOP primary. Scott's candidacy -- and his willingness to spend down his considerable personal wealth -- is a problem for Republicans who had hoped to give McCollum a free run into the fall. (Previous ranking: N/A)

12. Vermont (R): Republicans continue to insist that Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie (R) will shock the political establishment by delivering the Green Mountain State to their side again this fall. Dubie does benefit from a crowded Democratic primary race -- there are five candidates running -- that won't conclude until Sept. 14. (Previous ranking: 10)

11. Connecticut (R): For a small(ish) state, Connecticut is hosting one of the more entertaining governor's race this fall. Former Ambassador Tom Foley (R) and former Stamford Mayor Dannel Malloy (D) won their respective party nods at the recently concluded state conventions but both men will face primary challengers. The Democratic race seems likely to provide more fireworks with polling that suggests 2006 Senate nominee Ned Lamont carries an edge over Malloy who was a close runner-up for the party's gubernatorial nod that same year. (Previous ranking: 11)

10. Minnesota (R): Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's last-minute endorsement of state Rep. Tom Emmer at the state GOP convention earlier this month paid dividends as Emmer won and avoided a difficult primary. On the Democratic side, Margaret Anderson Kelliher, who won her party's nod at the state convention, faces an September August primary in the form of two self-funders: former Sen. Mark Dayton and former state Rep. Matt Entenza. A recent University of Minnesota poll showed Emmer narrowly leading everyone but Dayton. The state's clear Democratic tilt should boost the eventual nominee, however. (Previous ranking: 12)

9. Pennsylvania (D): The May 18 primary in the state played out as expected with state Attorney General Tom Corbett (R) and Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato (D) easily winning their respective party nods. Given Pennsylvania's history of flip-flopping the governorship every eight years since time immemoriam, however, Corbett enters the general election as a favorite. (Previous ranking: 9)

8. Michigan (D): The ad wars have started in the Republican primary with state Attorney General Mike Cox (R) going up with the first negative commercials of the race and Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R) responding by touting his "character and integrity." Even businessman Rick Snyder (R) -- he of the nerd ad fame -- has joined in, slyly repeating the negative charges against both his opponents while making an appeal for the yelling to stop. But does all that GOP infighting improve Democrats' chances of holding the governorship? Not likely. (Previous ranking: 7)

7. Iowa (D): Gov. Chet Culver's (D) fate may well be decided on June 8. Why? That's the day Republicans will pick their nominee to run against him in the fall. Former Gov. Terry Branstad (R) is the clear favorite for the nomination and even most Democrats acknowledge that, barring a political cataclysm, Culver can't beat Branstad. (Previous ranking: 6)

6. Hawaii (R): The special election victory by Rep. Charles Djou (R) in Hawaii's 1st district had emboldened some Republicans about their chances of keeping the seat of term limited Gov. Linda Lingle (R). It probably shouldn't. Democrats do face a real (and late) primary between former Rep. Neil Abercrombie and Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann but either one is a favorite in a general election matchup with Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona (R).

5. Oklahoma (D): Rep. Mary Fallin (R) is nearly fifty points(!) ahead of state Sen. Randy Brogdon (R) in the GOP primary. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) won his highest percentage of the vote in the Sooner State in 2008. 'Nuff said. (Previous ranking: 5)

4. Tennessee (D): Rep. Zach Wamp, Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam and Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey continue to duke it out on the airwaves with Wamp releasing a series of four region-specific ads and Haslam up with a spot aimed at rural voters. The race remains a safe bet for Republicans, with the successor to term-limited Gov. Phil Bredesen (D) likely be decided in the August 5 GOP primary. (Previous ranking: 4)

3. Rhode Island (R): The two little-known Republican candidates in the state had less than $100,000 cash on hand combined at the end of March -- a total less than the Moderate Party candidate. What's the Moderate Party, you ask? A party that has about the same chance of winning this race as the GOP does. This race is between former Sen. Lincoln Chafee (I-R.I.) and either state Treasurer Frank Caprio (D) or state Attorney General Patrick Lynch (D). (Previous ranking 3)

2. Kansas (D): About the only movement in this race came earlier this month, when Sen. Sam Brownback (R) came under fire from state Sen. Tom Holland (D) for his involvement in a proposal to exempt car dealers from the oversight of a new consumer protection agency. Still, repeat after us: Governor Sam Brownback. Get used to saying it. (Previous ranking: 2)

1. Wyoming (D): The filing period in the Equality State closes today, and Democrats don't look likely to field a serious candidate. One county Democratic party chairwoman who was weighing a bid at the eleventh hour said the field of three Democrats running "have sent a shiver up my spine." Um, what? (Previous ranking: 1)

With Felicia Sonmez and Aaron Blake

By Chris Cillizza  |  May 28, 2010; 2:34 PM ET
Categories:  The Line  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: How the Sestak job offer became a big deal
Next: Harry Reid: Comeback Kid?


Hey Silly Chrissy that loser TheBabeNemo is
nuts as the latest series of Arizona 2010
Governor Races according to Rasmussen up to
today clearly show Gov Jan Brewer is well
ahead of her pathetic do nothing useless Democrat Opponent AZ Attorney General Timid
Terry Goddard and former Phoenix Sanctuary
City Mayor Loser that violently opposes our
Arizona SB 1070 as well. Over 71% of Arizonans Support SB 1070 as I Recall now!
Gotcha here you loser & liar TheBabeNemo
that well know Obamabot Democrat Shill!

Posted by: Sue1980 | May 31, 2010 6:40 PM | Report abuse

These 2010 Election results are very clearly a big time painful message to all
the Democrat Party Candidates from dogcatcher on to the Governors,US Senators,
and Members of Congress either force your
Loser in Chief from Kenya Comrade Marxist
Barack Hussein Obama,and Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Dingy Harry Reid to Resign or
get kicked out of office en mass or Impeach
Barack Hussein Obama or the Democratic Party will cease to even exist after the
2010 and 2012 Elections! Thats Reality!

A Fed Up Independent Phoenix AZ Voter!
Elect Gov Jan Brewer President in 2012!

Posted by: Sue1980 | May 31, 2010 6:30 PM | Report abuse

The Vermont primary has been moved to
August 17. This will benefit the dems
who need to sort themselves out as early
as possible to have a chance against
Dubie the only republican running for governor.

Posted by: canaldoc | May 29, 2010 9:24 PM | Report abuse

@Brigade, I know Branstad is a popular candidate -- he's popular with Democrats as well as Republicans. He will win and it will be a refutation of this "more conservative than thou" nonesense we are hearing from so many state Republican parties.

Branstad is an old fashioned, centrist, big governmemt loving Republican. He has no trouble with sucking in Federal dollars and agencies, raising taxes and expanding the number of state employees. He's a Democrat in Republican clothing.

Posted by: margaretmeyers | May 29, 2010 1:39 PM | Report abuse


I have heard from reliable friend that Vermont has moved up its primary date.
I say this because this will help the dems
sort themselves out earlier so they can
have a shot at Dubie who is unopposed on
the republican side.
You might want to confirm my information because I think your info is outdated
(the Sept 14 primary date you mention).

Posted by: canaldoc | May 29, 2010 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Keep an eye on MA where the very unpopular Gov. Patrick faces a tough challenge. The polls are currently skewed because a minor independent is pulling 15%-20%, but as the focus narrows to Patrick vs. Baker, an upset is in the making.

Posted by: lezident | May 29, 2010 2:09 AM | Report abuse

well well well well The American People want to send a message to the democrats this year : Don't put someone up who claims to be bipartisan and centrist and swing all the way to the left.


Well, after this year, the democrats will not try that again - and they won't be in power for a long long time.

The democrats can not be trusted -

And this is a long-term thing.


Posted by: 37thand0street | May 28, 2010 10:07 PM | Report abuse

Branstad is the most moderate Republican in the race and the most electable of all the Iowa candidates, but the right wing is already crying that he's not really one of them.

I believe there's already a third "party" (I use the word loosely) candidate in Iowa. An African-American Democrat named Narcisse, a former school board member, who knew he couldn't oust Culver for the Democratic nomination. He isn't expected to make much of a mark.

Posted by: Brigade | May 28, 2010 9:26 PM | Report abuse

txajohnson is absoluty correct in stating
that Bill White and the Texas election
need to be on CC's radar. Come Nov CC may
have egg on his face when Bill White is
given the national spotlight for his
upset victory. 12 years of Perry is enough,
time to impose Texas term limits.

Posted by: leichtman1 | May 28, 2010 8:33 PM | Report abuse

Brigade, that is one hot mess on the Sestak thread. As the press is attracted to an easy-to-tell story, most posters are looking for an easy-to-yell-my-opinion story.

Posted by: margaretmeyers | May 28, 2010 8:02 PM | Report abuse

If Branstad is the Republican nominee I think Iowa is ripe for a third party candidate. Branstad is a big-budget, expanding state government insider. Other candidates are called RINOs, Barnstad actually is a RINO.

(signed) a Friendly Democrat

Posted by: margaretmeyers | May 28, 2010 7:56 PM | Report abuse

Dang! The Sestak thread is at 475 and climbing. Mostly just people saying the same stuff over and over. I was going to post a comment or two, but I'm not going anywhere near that madness.

Posted by: Brigade | May 28, 2010 7:45 PM | Report abuse

Voters have every right to be fed up, but as I said in the other thread, you can't beat something with nothing. Where are the candidates who can turn things around?
Kendrick Meek? A wrestling promoter's wife? A guy who thinks the government shouldn't enforce civil rights? I know they aren't running for governor seats, but many of the state problems are a result of fiscal irresponsibilty at both state and federal levels.

And frankly I don't have much confidence in either party to do much more than talk the talk. That's why people are fed up. And they don't know where the hell to turn

Posted by: Brigade | May 28, 2010 7:39 PM | Report abuse

Kasich has had some ads out about Jobs and Ohio. The only problem is that he is going to have to say something about he can bring more jobs to Ohio, when he and his party aren't very big on doing anything except waving good bye to the jobs and to the taxes the companies moving them out haven't been paying for years. All he has going for him is to complain about Strickland. The first time someone asks him how he will balance the next budget he is toast, since all he can think about is cutting taxes.

Posted by: ceflynline | May 28, 2010 7:38 PM | Report abuse

wait a minute Chris.

You took Arizona off the line.

Jan Brewer is so vulnerable it's pathetic.

Besides, Governors don't mean jack in Washington DC. THey get shut out and told to go "back to your state" and stop your whining.

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | May 28, 2010 7:31 PM | Report abuse

Noacoler wrote,
"What, nothing on DADT about to be repealed while Republicans dig in their heels and continue their throwing of red meat to the aging angry Base."

What's the connection? Democrats have the votes if they want to repeal---they need one Republican in the Senate. I have a feeling this is going to be a tough sell in the Senate during an election year.

"For some strange reason a preponderance of Arab-speaking recruits are gay . . ."

I didn't know that. How in the world did you find that out?

"But for the GOP it's more important to salve the squeamishness of a pack of hillbillies than be able to translate terrorist communications. Way to go, goobs."

I think you're not keeping up. The GOP is in no position to stop this. It's the squeamishness of Democrats that will torpedo the bill.

Posted by: Brigade | May 28, 2010 7:28 PM | Report abuse

It's hard to say whether they all are playing to constituents. They were in Obama districts, but there are quite a few R congressmen who are in Obama districts. Some were quite a bit more Obama.

If you're looking at Obama districts held by Republicans, Djou and Cao are at the top of the list. The next two are Mike Castle and Mark Kirk, both candidates for Senate.

Posted by: DDAWD | May 28, 2010 6:54 PM | Report abuse

What you talkin' 'bout, DDAWD?

Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | May 28, 2010 6:04 PM | Report abuse

DDAWD, Ron Paul's vote doesn't play to the Republican base, but it might play to his own. He's got that Libertarian streak and could probably make a decent case to his constituents that forbidding openly gay people from serving in the military is excessive government interference. Paul's the kind of guy who's polarizing on a national scale but wildly popular in his home district, like Dennis Kucinich, and I imagine most of his constituents will be OK with this.

If you're right about the four who aren't Paul playing to their constituents, then this probably won't have a huge effect on their re-election chances. All the more reason for it not to be a prominent topic on the Fix at this stage in the game, though the question of whether it will energize Democrats will probably be looked at eventually.

Posted by: GJonahJameson | May 28, 2010 5:50 PM | Report abuse

GJJ, two of the Republicans who voted for DADT repeal are Djou of Hawaii and Cao of Louisiana. For both of them, DADT repeal probably helps their slim re-election chances since both are in very blue districts.

Ron Paul is a third. I could imagine him facing some backlash, but I don't think he is in danger. (McCain won his district 66-33)

Judy Biggert IL-13, a district Obama won 54-45

Ilena Rox-Lehtinen FL-18 which Obama won 51-49

So Cao and Djou could be said to be playing to their constituents, but you can't say that at all about Ron Paul. Biggert is in a decent D district (although the blueness might be inflated since it's in Illinois as Bush won her district both times). IRL is in one of those districts that Obama just barely won and Bush won twice as well. She was a vote against health care, incidentally. All four of them were, actually (not including Djou, obviously)

First link, the roll call for the DADT repeal

Second, the cool link on the WaPo politics page. You can search for any congressional district and it will give you the results of the last three Congressional elections, last three Presidential elections, as well as whether the sitting member voted for HCR.

Posted by: DDAWD | May 28, 2010 5:31 PM | Report abuse

FWIW, I don't think getting it passed in the House is especially newsworthy. That's probably the easiest part. The noteworthy events are 1)Obama saying he wants it done and 2)It surviving filibuster attempts in the Senate.

But still, it's not nothing and I'm happy about it.

Posted by: DDAWD | May 28, 2010 4:59 PM | Report abuse

Be patient, Noacoler.

The political lines are already pretty much drawn on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," so there are really only two noticeable effects the Fix could extrapolate on: whether the Republicans who voted for the repeal will face any political backlash, and whether this move will energize some of the Democratic base heading into the elections. Because "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" has only in the last day or so jumped back into the headlines, it's probably too early at this point to make any predictions on either of those fronts. But I imagine you'll be seeing something on it sooner or later, as various pundits and politicians on both sides start begging for attention and voters start getting worked up about it.

Posted by: GJonahJameson | May 28, 2010 4:44 PM | Report abuse

So according to polls, voters are irrationally angry for reasons they can't adequately articulate and want to solve that problem by electing people who don't know what they're doing. Ugh. No surprises there, I guess.

I'm not sure what prompted Ohio's coming back onto the Line, given that the polls really haven't shifted any since Gov. Strickland's resurgence of a few weeks ago knocked Ohio off the Line, but I'll assume it's an effect of several other races becoming significantly less close in that time.

Posted by: GJonahJameson | May 28, 2010 4:35 PM | Report abuse

What, nothing on DADT about to be repealed while Republicans dig in their heels and continue their throwing of red meat to the aging angry Base.

For some strange reason a preponderance of Arab-speaking recruits are gay, and their exclusion and harassment under DADT has left the armed forces with a lack of Arabic translators, which is pretty stupid considering where our most important threats are coming from.

But for the GOP it's more important to salve the squeamishness of a pack of hillbillies than be able to translate terrorist communications. Way to go, goobs.

Posted by: Noacoler | May 28, 2010 4:26 PM | Report abuse

What,nothing on Texas with White inching up in the polls against Perry and every thinking Texan on their knees pleading that White will keep moving up!

Posted by: txajohnson | May 28, 2010 4:05 PM | Report abuse

Republicans Block Dem Proposal For Unlimited Liability Caps On Oil Spills

Republicans (James Inhofe) have stepped up to the plate yet again for big oil, pledging a Republican filibuster against legislation offered by New Jersey's Robert Menendez that would completely lift the $75 million liability cap currently protecting big oil companies from claims of economic damage from oil spills.

Republicans oppose unlimited caps because it would limit the ability of oil companies to drill for oil. That's bull. The only thing it would do is hold them accountable by limiting their ability to risk the livelihood of innocent third parties and keep the tax payers from being stuck with footing the bill for their disasters.

Republicans like Inhofe support corporate socialism. They want corporations to enjoy unlimited profit with limited risk. For all the crying by Teabaggers about the financial bailouts, why are they silent about this sort of bailout?


Heckuva Job, Wingnuts!

Posted by: DrainYou | May 28, 2010 3:52 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: DDAWD | May 28, 2010 3:21 PM | Report abuse

"most Minnesotans are either at their cabins or want to be"

This is scurrilous ethnic profiling at its worst.

When I was a boy, we drove (for-ever) from St. Joseph up to Duluth and stayed in little cottages with electric light and running water, on the shore of gitchegumee.

Posted by: shrink2 | May 28, 2010 3:13 PM | Report abuse

Correction: the Minnesota primary, formerly in September, has been moved. This year it is August 10. It's hard to predict the effect of that shift to sleepy midsummer, when most Minnesotans are either at their cabins or want to be. Does it help the candidate with the GOTV power of the party endorsement or the self-funders? It does give the eventual Dem nominee an extra month to turn his or her attention to the general against a primary-free Emmer.

Posted by: billmcg1 | May 28, 2010 3:00 PM | Report abuse

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