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RGA fundraising gives GOP edge in final weeks of gubernatorial races

The Republican Governors Association's $31 million haul over the last three months suggests the committee is going all out in hopes of maximizing a favorable national political climate to seize large numbers of Democratic-held governorships.

The eye-popping number ensures that the RGA will outspend the Democratic Governors Association in nearly every closely contested governors race in the country -- and could have an even larger impact in large states like Florida, Ohio and Texas where communicating to voters is a very costly endeavor.

Friday Line

The RGA's money edge could also allow Republicans to broaden an already wide gubernatorial playing field -- throwing resources at any race that polling suggests is even remotely competitive.

A look at the current Fix governors Line suggests tremendous turnover potential for both sides; as of today, every race on the Line would likely switch parties. And, a few that didn't make the final cut, could flip as well.

Democrats will lose seats nationwide but still retain a real possibility of taking back control in two major electoral prizes: California and Florida.

As always, the number one ranked race is the most likely to switch parties. Critiques and kudos are welcome in the comments section below.

To the Line!

15. Minnesota (Republican controlled): GOP state Rep. Tom Emmer has been close in some polls, but it's hard not to consider former Sen. Mark Dayton (D) at least a slight favorite to succeed Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R). Keep an eye on an ex-factor in the race - Independence Party candidate Tom Horner. The third party generally takes a hefty chunk of the vote in Minnesota, and neither Dayton nor Emmer are lighting the world on fire. The question may be: who does Horner take more votes from? (Previous ranking: N/A)

14. Illinois (Democratic controlled): Illinois (D): Despite the widely-derided campaign he has run, Gov. Pat Quinn (D) is somehow still in contention to win this race against state Sen. Bill Brady (R). The White House is doing everything they can to drive turnout in the Democratic base; President Obama recently cut a radio ad for Quinn and First Lady Michelle Obama and Vice President Joe Biden have stumped for him. (Previous ranking:11)

13. Connecticut (R): A new Quinnipiac University poll released this morning showed former Stamford Mayor Dan Malloy with a seven-point edge over former Ambassador Tom Foley (R). That seems right. (Previous ranking: 8)

12. Ohio (D): After surging back into contention over the last month, Gov. Ted Strickland (D) appears to giving back some ground in a new independent poll. Former Rep. John Kasich (R) took 51 percent to 43 percent for the incumbent in the new Ohio poll released today. (Previous ranking: 13)

11. Wisconsin (D): Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker (R) keeps looking strong in the polls, holding a high-single digit lead over Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett (D). Wisconsin looks like it could swing strongly to the Republican side this year, with the GOP also looking favored to defeat Sen. Russ Feingold (D) and potentially taking House seats in the 7th and 8th districts. (Previous ranking: 15)

10. New Mexico (D): Lt. Gov. Diane Denish (D) has never been able to get out of the unpopular shadow of the man she is trying to replace -- term limited Gov. Bill Richardson (D). Dona Ana District Attorney Susana Martinez (R) has run a very strong campaign and now has to be considered the favorite. (Previous ranking: 12)

9. Hawaii (R): The fact that the RGA is flush with cash bodes well for Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona (R). The committee has been running a steady stream of ads in what is looking like its toughest state to hold -- outside of Rhode Island, where it isn't really trying) (Previous ranking: 10)

8. Pennsylvania (D): State Attorney General Tom Corbett (R) should win this, barring a late game changer. Pennsylvania has routinely cycled between Democratic and Republican control, and Gov. Ed Rendell (D) is leaving at a low point after two terms. Democrats are feeling slightly better about their chances in the Keystone State of late but that may well be simply the Democratic base coming home a bit, which won't be enough to put Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato (D) over the top. (Previous ranking: 9)

7. Iowa (D): Gov. Chet Culver (D) is the most vulnerable of the seven incumbent Democratic governors running for re-election this year. Democrats' fortunes in the Hawkeye State have eroded drastically since their big wins in 2006 and 2008, and the release this week by Culver's camp of an internal poll this week showing the governor trailing former Gov. Terry Branstad (R) by eight points looks unlikely to shake things up. (Previous ranking: 7)

6. Oklahoma (D): A Sooner Poll released this week showed Rep. Mary Fallin (R) leading Lt. Gov. Jari Askins (D) by a 54 percent to 38 percent margin. The Republican Governors Association has gone up with TV ads portraying Askins as a liberal and tying her to President Obama. That's not a bad strategy in the one state where Obama didn't win a single county in 2008. (Previous ranking: 6)

5. Michigan (D): One tough nerd is about to become the governor of Michigan. Whether wealthy businessman Rick Snyder (R) can turn around the state's moribund economy is far less clear. (Previous ranking: 5)

4. Tennessee (D): The Cook Political Report has moved this race from "likely Republican" to "solid Republican," expressing near-certainty that Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam (R) will succeed term limited Gov. Phil Bredesen (D). (Previous ranking: 4)

3. Rhode Island (R): Republicans long ago resigned themselves to a likely loss in the four-way race to succeed term-limited Gov. Don Carcieri (R). The going appeared to get a bit easier this week for state Treasurer Frank Caprio (D) when the campaign manager of his main rival, former Sen. Lincoln Chafee (I) quit the campaign amid allegations that he'd received unemployment benefits while working for the campaign. National Democrats have done their part to help Caprio by airing a number of aggressive TV ads against the former Republican. (Previous ranking: 3)

2. Kansas (D): Quick, name the sacrificial lamb, er, Democratic nominee against Sen. Sam Brownback (R). Yeah, we didn't think so. It's state Sen. Tom Holland, by the way. (Previous ranking: 2)

1. Wyoming (D): You don't Mead much analysis here. As in soon-to-be-governor Matt Mead (R). (Previous ranking: 1)

By Chris Cillizza  | October 15, 2010; 12:25 PM ET
Categories:  The Line  
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