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The Friday Line: Fla. Drops Off List of Top Govs. Races

All gubernatorial races are -- theoretically -- created equal, but in reality there are a handful that matter more than the others due to the size of the states and the resultant national influence those chief executives enjoy.

So, while there are 36 governors mansions up for grabs this year, four are absolutely critical to each party -- California, New York, Florida and Texas. Of those, only the first two make this month's list of races that are most likely to see a change in party control.

Why? The size of these four states alone makes it a massive task (both financially and organizationally) for any candidate to get to know voters. The cost of running a flight of statewide television advertising in any of these states starts at $1 million and can often rise considerably higher. Incumbents inevitably flourish in this environment because few challengers have the fundraising capacity to level the playing field.

That scenario seems likely to play out this fall in Texas where Gov. Rick Perry (R) has a huge fundraising edge over former Rep. Chris Bell (D) (and singer/novelist Kinky Friedman and state Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn, both of whom are planning runs as independents).

While we expect the open seat in Florida to be considerably closer than the Texas contest, it drops off the line this month as the two Republican candidates continue to distance themselves financially from the two Democrats. At the end of last month, state Attorney General Charlie Crist (R) had raised $8.8 million for the race, while state Cheif Financial Officer Tom Gallagher (R) had raked in $6.6 million. Contrast those numbers with the fact that Rep. Jim Davis, the leading Democrat, had raised just $2.3 million, and state Sen. Rod Smith raised $1.9 million. Assuming that financial disparity continues through the fall, Republicans are favored to hold the seat.

The dynamics of the California and New York races are also heavily affected by financial considerations, but more on that in the individual write-ups below.

Use the comments section below to weigh in with your own thoughts.

To the Line!

10. California -- Arnold Schwarzenegger (R): The last few months have been a mixed bag for Republicans, as Schwarzenegger has steadied his reelection campaign even as state Controller Steve Westly has used a massive spending spree to leapfrog state Treasurer Phil Angelides in the Democratic primary. Westly, who has considerable personal wealth, would be more able than Angelides to match the fundraising juggernaut of Schwarzenegger and, therefore, would seem the better candidate for Democrats. We're waiting to see which Democrat wins the June 6 primary before making any hard and fast judgments about this race; if Westly emerges it's likely to move up the Line. (Previous ranking: 9)

9. Colorado -- OPEN: The biggest oversight in our last Line on governors races was not including Colorado. We initially discounted this race after a series of high-profile Democrats -- most notably Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper -- decided not to run, leaving only former Denver District Attorney Bill Ritter in the race. But the more we look at the race, the better it looks for Democrats. On a macro level, Colorado was one of the few bright spots for Democrats in 2004 as they won an open Senate seat and an open House seat. On the micro level, Rep. Bob Beauprez's coronation as the Republican nominee has not gone as planned, with former University of Denver president Marc Holtzmann continuing to raise solid money as he casts Beauprez as a Washington insider at every turn. Beauprez should still win the Aug. 8 primary, but he will need to expend much more time and money to do so than establishment Republicans would have liked. Ritter continues to stay competitive on the money front and could well benefit from a Democratic wind blowing across the Rocky Mountains. (Previous ranking: N/A)

8. Michigan -- Jennifer Granholm (D): As expected, the television onslaught by Amway heir Dick DeVos has tightened this race considerably. An EPIC/MRA survey showed the two candidates tied at 43 percent; potentially more troubling for Granholm is that just 16 percent of the sample said the state was headed in the "right direction," while 65 percent said it was off on the "wrong track." DeVos's $2 million ad campaign may have closed the gap with Granholm, but the poll showed that just 28 percent viewed him favorably compared to 25 percent who saw him in an unfavorable light -- meaning that voters are already skeptical about the wealthy businessman. When Granholm begins her own ad campaign, she should open up a lead again. If she doesn't, it should be read as a major warning sign. (Previous ranking: 8)

7. Maryland -- Bob Ehrlich (R): The biggest drop in this month's line belongs to the Old Line State where the Democratic primary between Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley and Montgomery County Executive Doug Duncan looks more competitive than it has in months. O'Malley still seems like the favorite given his financial advantage of roughly $3 million and the belief among insiders that his base in Baltimore would be a better match-up with Ehrlich, who shares a similar base from his days in Congress. A recent independent poll showed that 50 percent of voters approve of the job Erhlich is doing compared with 38 percent who disapprove; the same poll showed President Bush with a 29 percent approve/67 percent disapprove rating in Maryland -- a sign that national Republicans' troubles won't necessarily doom Ehrlich. (Previous ranking: 4)

6. Massachusetts -- OPEN: This race gets curiouser and curiouser with 2002 Lt. Gov. nominee Chris Gabrieli entering the fray on the Democratic side earlier this month. Gabrieli's name identification and personal wealth could make him a major primary player since neither state Attorney General Tom Reilly nor former deputy U.S. Attorney General Deval Patrick has closed the deal with voters. Gabrieli has already made a splash as the first Democrat to run television ads ahead of the September primary. Reilly has $4 million in the bank and should be able to match Gabrieli dollar for dollar -- to a point. Patrick has roughly $1 million on hand. As the Democrats head toward a rock 'em, sock 'em primary, Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey (R) continues to paint herself as a sensible centrist. The independent candidacy of Christy Mihos, a former Republican, remains the X-factor, as polling has shown him with low double-digit support from voters. (Previous ranking: 5)

5. Wisconsin -- Jim Doyle (D): The last time we ranked the top ten gubernatorial races, we said that "the lone bright spot" for Wisconsin's incumbent was the fact that Republicans faced a competitive September primary. Uh oh. The decision by Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker to drop out of the contest in favor of Rep. Mark Green clears the Republican field and further endangers Doyle. Controversy continues to dog Doyle regarding alleged no-bid contracts being awarded in exchange for donations. Polling shows Doyle mired in the low 40s -- a worrisome sign for any incumbent less than seven months from an election. (Previous ranking: 7)

4. Arkansas -- OPEN: State Attorney General Mike Beebe (D) caught a nice break when former Clinton administration official Bill Halter (and his deep pockets) thought better of a primary challenge and decided instead to run for lieutenant governor. Halter's decision means that Beebe can conserve resources until he and former Rep. Asa Hutchinson (R) square off in the fall. (In 2002, Beebe was -- amazingly -- unopposed for his current post.) After ten years of Huckabee, voters in the state could well be primed for a change, and Beebe is the Democrats' best hope since a guy named Clinton to win back the governor's mansion. (Previous ranking: 6)

3. Iowa -- OPEN: Although we continue to hear grumbles that Secretary of State Chet Culver is a weak frontrunner in the Democratic primary, polling continues to show him with a comfortable lead over former Vilsack administration official Mike Blouin and state Rep. Ed Fallon; Culver took 33 percent to 16 for Blouin and 13 percent for Fallon in an independent survey conducted late last month. That same survey showed Culver as the only one of the three Democrats with a lead over Rep. Jim Nussle (R). Nussle continues to impress -- he signed on former primary challenger Bob Vander Plaats as his running mate and continues to set fundraising records. But Democrats believe that Nussle's chairmanship of the House Budget Committee during a period of increased federal spending and huge deficits will come back to haunt him on the campaign trail. (Previous ranking: 3)

2. Ohio -- OPEN: With the May 2 primary rapidly approaching, Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell (R) and state Attorney General Jim Petro (R) are pummeling each other on the television airwaves. Blackwell is the favorite, gaining traction by casting Petro as a tool of the wildly unpopular Republican incumbent, Bob Taft. The nomination may not be worth the winning, however, as Rep. Ted Strickland (D) continues to run a sound campaign and is likely to benefit from the caustic political atmosphere toward Republicans on the state and national levels. Regardless of who winds up as the Republican nominee, this is Democrats' race to lose. (Previous ranking: 2)

1. New York -- OPEN: What else to say about the race to succeed George Pataki after 12 years? State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer is a huge favorite in the Democratic primary against Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi and whichever candidate Republicans settle on in their own intraparty fight -- a toss-up between former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld and former Assemblyman John Faso now that former Secretary of State Randy Daniels has ended his campaign. Spitzer's likely victory will quickly establish him as a potential national candidate in 2012 or 2016. (Previous ranking: 1)

washingtonpost.com's updated 2006 elections map now includes state political profiles from the Associated Press. Read profiles for the states listed above: California, Colorado, Michigan, Maryland, Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Arkansas, Iowa, Ohio and New York.

By Chris Cillizza  |  April 21, 2006; 8:30 AM ET
Categories:  Governors , The Line  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: 2008: The Case Against John Kerry
Next: Virginia: The Races to Come

Comments

Forget the war, the supreme court, the gap between rich and poor, the declining environment and the scandals. The escalating price of gasoline will be the motivation for voters to voice their anger and this will decide the closest races. The Dems will take the Senate and the House. The price of gas wil continue to escalate, the congressional investigations will begin and America will be primed for a hero in 2008. John Mc Cain or Hillary? Depends on who stays at home and who votes. If the born-agains are unhappy with Mc Cain, Hillary wins!

Posted by: PaDAVE | April 24, 2006 1:03 PM | Report abuse

Yeh I have to agree with Rob - Swann and Blackwell have a snowball's chance in hell of winning. Joan where the hell do you get your information from? Last poll I saw in Ohio had Strickland ahead of Blackwell by 18 points. Rendell has a cash-on-hand advantage of $15.5 million to $1 million for Swann and is widening his leads in the polls over Swann. After the debates when Rendell destroys Swann people will stop taking him seriously.

Oh, and did anybody else know that an incumbent governor in Pennsylvania has NEVER lost reelection?

Posted by: Ohio | April 22, 2006 4:11 PM | Report abuse

that should read #16 not #6 Nussel and Green are the repubs best bets for takeovers. The Dems will win big this year when it comes to governor's seats.

Posted by: Rob Millette | April 22, 2006 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Hey Joan, do you say anything that's not an RNC talking point?

Posted by: Sandwich Repairman | April 22, 2006 3:09 PM | Report abuse

Topinka is the only candidate you mention that even has a shot at winning. Rendell is safe and Strickland is going to win in a landslide. Of course, when it comes to take overs I've got Topinka at # 6 on the list.

Posted by: Rob Millette | April 22, 2006 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Judy Barr Topinka will be the start of Republican wins for governor races:
she will stand along Lynn Swan and Ken Blackwell as new governors of their states. It will show the Republicans have women and African-Americans who represent the wide range of people, not just the white guy thing.
The Republican women have provided strong voices in the past 84 years, yes, 84 years, starting with Jeanette Rankin of Montanta, a Republican congresswoman who voted in the Wilson Administration.
Susan B Anthony is on record as a Republican too, pushing members of the state legislatures to vote YES on women's right to vote.
Judy Barr Topinka will be another woman from the Republican party leading our nation.

Posted by: Joan | April 22, 2006 12:54 PM | Report abuse

OR has had Dem governors but the Presidential numbers have narrowed considerably. A Rep Governor could help deliver the state.

2004... 76,332 Kulongoski (D)
2000... 6,765 Kitzhaber (D)
1996... 111,499 Kitzhaber (D)
1992... 145,557 Roberts (D)
1988... 56,080 Goldschmidt (D)
1984...(-148,221) Atiyeh (R)
1980...(-114,154) Atiyeh (R)
1976...( -1,713) Staub (D)

Posted by: RMill | April 22, 2006 10:06 AM | Report abuse

It remains to be seen whether the charismatic Granholm can get the city of Detroit voters to turn out. When Detroit's hip-hop Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick appeared headed for near certain defeat in his bid for re-election (former Archer Deputy Mayor Hendrick won the primary and was far ahead in the polls), Granhom tacitly backed his opponent. Kilpatrick pulled a suprise come-from-behind win thanks in large part to his prominent role in Rosa Park's 7-hour "funeral", which was broadcast live on Detroit TV and radio. (Nothing like having Bill Clinton in town to say nice words about you - a week before the election.) The day after the Mayoral election, Granholm's state campaign chair, former Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer, resigned. What can Granholm promise Kilpatick to kiss and make up when she has a Repbublican dominated Michigan Legislature and state fairgrounds full of unsold SUVs and pick-ups?

Posted by: Saginaw 59 | April 22, 2006 10:00 AM | Report abuse

I moved from Michigan to Colorado in 2000. I've been an active Republican since high school, but I was really rooting for Jennifer Granholm, because, after all, I'm a woman too. But her time in office has been disappointing. I hope those in Michigan don't, as my mother used to warn, "cut off your nose to spite your face"! Mr. "Amway" DeVos is a good man! I believe he can lead the state to jobs!

As for here in Colorado, I hope you are wrong, wrong, wrong! MARC HOLTZMAN is also a terrific guy, and I think he'd be better for Colorado than Bob Beauprez! Keep us informed!

Posted by: Dody VerSluis | April 21, 2006 9:22 PM | Report abuse

Spitzer, clearly presidential material. He's def up there re: my fav pols. Right there with Russ and Bernie and Barak. Im talkin people that get sh*t DONE, esp Eliot. He's insane. Oh let me take on big energy/polluters, tobacco, payola, whatever. Make them pay for polluting our air and our lungs and our ears. He'll be a great prez or vp or vp then prez.

Posted by: FairAndBalanced? | April 21, 2006 7:52 PM | Report abuse

Nor Marilyn Musgrave...

The CO legislature hadn't been all-Democratic since 1976. And those tax votes signal more trouble for Republicans too.

Posted by: Sandwich Repairman | April 21, 2006 6:45 PM | Report abuse

one other thing to note about colorado - this last election cycle both the formerly republican controlled state house and senates went democratic.

tom tancredo also certainly isn't helping the republicans look like moderates in the state.

Posted by: Allison - Re CO | April 21, 2006 6:11 PM | Report abuse

OR hasn't elected a Republican Governor since 1982. They've had 4 Democratic Governors since then. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victor_G._Atiyeh

Posted by: Sandwich Repairman | April 21, 2006 5:36 PM | Report abuse

I've been a Spitzer admirer for years, just never heard his name in a Pres. context before. IL and NY certainly wouldn't do much for the electoral college math...

Do they have barns in CO?

Mike Hatch is a very popular longtime statewide officeholder in MN. Pawlenty has screwed up on so many fronts (like trying to introduce the death penalty). Hatch will win.

RMill, there was an item in the Post recently about a study that found that white Democrats get more votes when their opponents are black. Blackwell and Swann have decidedly uphill battles.

Joan, are you aware that the Electoral College was in place for decades before 1876?

da Wege: I wouldn't wager much on Klobuchar being hurt by Schumer's support. Even Republicans in MN were pretty upset in 2002 when Bush, Cheney, and Rove convinced Pawlenty to get out of the Senate race, but he and Coleman both won that fall.

If you want to know what effect Bush's support of Swann will have in PA, just ask Jerry Kilgore in VA then magnify it a bit.

OR is a Democratic state, not a critical one. It hasn't voted Republican in a presidential since 1984. I can't even remember when it last elected a Republican Governor. The only reason it was close was that Nader and the Greens do well there (7% in the 2000 Presidential).

Chris, what about Idaho?? I hear the Democrats may pull off a stunning upset there!

http://sandwichrepair.blogspot.com

Posted by: Sandwich Repairman | April 21, 2006 5:30 PM | Report abuse

Re: IL

Only Rasmussen has Topinka up (43%-41%- only 2 pts.) while Zogby has Blagojevich up 42.7% to 36.6%. And his approval rating is steadily rising accordinag to Survey USA (47% in April, up from 44% in March and 41% in Feb).

Illinois is so decidely Dem and he has a ton of cash, it will be difficuly for the GOP. Having former Gov. Ryan found guilty on all counts of racketeering conspiracy this week doesn't help them either.

Posted by: RMill | April 21, 2006 5:07 PM | Report abuse

Re: PA

Rendell is actually gaining ground in the polls. Swann was within 3 pts early on now, polls have Rendell with a 5-10 point lead (excepot Rasmussen which still has 3 pt. spread) and Rendell approval is going back up (now 52% up from 48% last month).

Posted by: RMill | April 21, 2006 5:01 PM | Report abuse

Re: Alaska

I should have said no decided opposition. When they choose a Democratic candidate and Murkowski makes a decision, this should move into the Top 10. I still have it in the Watch list definately Top 15.

Posted by: RMill | April 21, 2006 4:57 PM | Report abuse

What about Illinois or Pennsylvania? Both are electorally important states and both have the potential to be tough election battles for the incumbents. GOP nominee Judy Baar Topinka is Republican's best hope, she's won statewide and the current Gov is becoming more and more mirred in ethics charges. Not to mention a series of polls showing her with a 2-3 pt lead on average. Lynn Swann in Pennsylvania offers charisma and vitality to an important Gubernatorial race. Gov Rendell is losing ground on re-election polls and more state voters think someone new should get the job. This has the potential to get even tighter. Why didn't these two make the cut? I think both are more competitive than California, Arnold will pull that one off again, or New York, where the Dems will easily pick up that seat. NY shouldn't even be rated as competitive anymore. These are two other races to watch, that could lead to surprise victories come November.

Posted by: GWgoper | April 21, 2006 4:56 PM | Report abuse

RMill,

I have to disagree with your assessment of the Alaskan Governor's race. The Democrats have 2 candidates in the race. Ethan Berkowitz and Eric Croft, both current State Representatives. Tony Knowles, a fromer governor and nominee for the Alaskan Senate seat may also run but I think he's going to wait for Ted Steven's senate seat to open up. He'll retire in 08 at the latest, I wouldn't be surprised if he retires this year. So the democrats do have some contenders for the seat. Also playing in the Dems favor is the independant candidate. Anderw Halcro, a fromer Republican State Rep is running as an independant and will shave more voters from the repub side than he will the Dem.

I think that the Dems have a good shot at the Alaskan Governor's seat and the race is easily in the top 15. Not in the top 10 yet solely because we have no polls upon which to base and because we don't know what Frank Mirkowski will do.

Posted by: Rob Millette | April 21, 2006 4:34 PM | Report abuse

RMill

I understad what Chris is saying. My beef was with the front page of The Washington Post website and how they tease this post. They make it sound like out of all 36 races, only states have any possibility of switching hands.

Go read it yourself and see if you agree.

Posted by: James Williams | April 21, 2006 4:06 PM | Report abuse

James Williams

Only two of the 4 critical states are likely to change hands.

NY FL TX CA

What I take issue with are "critical states".

New York, Texas and California, all currently held by Republican governors. NY and CA delivered their presidential votes to Kerry despite their governors and Texas to Bush would have happened even if there was a Dem in Austin.

Florida is critical.

I would suggest that OH is critical in the grand scheme, as is MI, WI, IL and PA. All but OH currently held by Dem governors.

OH is likely to flip. All others are on the TOP ten or on the watch list.

What about OR- close in past presidentials. A Rep governor could turn the Dem tide in 2008. NV could be one to watch. GOP control helped deliver in 2004 to Bush.

The argument should be with defining what states as critical.

Posted by: RMill | April 21, 2006 3:58 PM | Report abuse

Kinda sad that the non-biased media write you off if you can't get as many bribes from corporations as the next most corrupt politician.

Posted by: g lloyd | April 21, 2006 3:32 PM | Report abuse

I think Chris should change the name of his rankings from "Seats Most Likely to Switch Parties" to "Most Competitive Races"....it is not necessarily the same thing.

Lets not waste any more ink or webspace writing about the NY governor's race. It's a foregone conclusion that Spitzer will win (unless, in the words of Edwin Edwards, he is caught in bed with a dead girl or a live boy).

I know...it's NY, but how often are their gubernatorial elections close affairs? This one surely isn't, and pontificating about it more than it deserves takes up time and space that could be used to writing about another potentially competitive election.

Posted by: KY-6 Guy | April 21, 2006 3:28 PM | Report abuse

The Pennsylvania's governor's race belongs nowhere near the Top Ten.

Jeremy - Lynn Swann is not a serious challenge to Rendell. I know polls show he is neck and neck, but that is only b/c he is a football legend. He will be destroyed in the debates by Rendell. Most importantly, Rendell has $15.5 million on hand, Swann only $1 million. This race does not belong in the top ten.

AWN -

"Chris could you please explain why PA is not on the list given the President's backing of Swann"

HAHAHAHAHAHA!!! Oh my God I just about died when I read that. Newsflash to you 'AWN' - PA hates Bush with a passion, as does the rest of the country. Bush's endorsement more then likey HURTS Swann, and gives people even more reason to vote for Rendell.

Posted by: Ohio guy | April 21, 2006 3:20 PM | Report abuse

Where on earth did this insane notion that primaries WEAKEN candidates come from? Yes, Republicans routinely clear the field, but that's a very weak move to help shield already fragile extremist candidates from excessive press scrutiny.

When Democrats fight, it makes for more Democrats. If the Republicans have cleared the field in Wisconsin, then their gubernatorial candidate will emerge weaker than he would have. Doyle should be thrilled, not disappointed.

In Minnesota party regulars are still steamed over Chuck Schumer waltzing into our state to annoint our primary candidate — even though the primary is still being contested. Fortunately her last opponent refused to drop out so now she's benefiting from extra newspaper ink thanks to her challenger.

Posted by: da Wege | April 21, 2006 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Good grief. The teaser for this post on the front page of this website says:

"While there are 36 mansions up for grabs, only two races are likely to see change in party control."

I was surprised that this would be the case and wondered where this sudden GOP wave came from. Can you please get someone to change the teaser on the front page to a much less misleading sentence and then fire whoever wrote the original teaser? As a Democrat, I almost had a heart attack.

Posted by: James Williams | April 21, 2006 3:09 PM | Report abuse

Voters do not accept most millionaire candidate if they behave as if they are from an elite class of people. Voters want a successful person who connects to the people with reasonable ideas.
yes, Ross Perot was an example of a millionaire who did not get elected but that 19% of the vote that he did get, sucked away from Bush and Clinton. In fact, Clinton only got 43% of the vote, so that is a main reason why we have the electoral college in place. We get a winner-take-all in most states, which can settle most election disputes.
No one wanted a repeat of the 1876 election of Rutherford B Hayes and Sam Tilden, where our nation had no president-elect until 2 days before the March 4 inauguration day.
Ross Perot only inspired Pat Buchanan to grab the $12 million in FEC funds to finance his failed race in 2000. Come to think of it, I think Ralph Nader took so many votes away from Gore in key states, that I view it as the revenge of Ross Perot, since his third party movement sabotaged the 2nd term for Daddy Bush. Therefore, Nader sabotaged the Gore win.
thanks Ralph

Posted by: Joan | April 21, 2006 3:04 PM | Report abuse

Any why no mention of the open and hotly contested race in Nevada?

Posted by: Dan P | April 21, 2006 2:52 PM | Report abuse

I think you've totally misread Florida. The vast majority of the Republican money raised to date is going to be used by the two candidates to beat up on each other without mercy.

After the primary you'll find a damaged and broke candidate who has had to move far to the right, throw more mud than the other guy and has spent all of his money to win the nomination.

Posted by: WanderingHoo | April 21, 2006 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Chris,

Here's a sleeper race to consider: Illinois. First, the only post-primary poll gives incumbent Democratic Governor Rod Blagojevich a 45-42 lead, with 13% undecided (+/- 3.5%). Second, a prominent African-American state senator has been loudly threatening to run as a third-party candidate to protest Illinois education funding. Third, only about 2/3 of Democratic voters voted for Blagojevich in the March primary, while his grossly underfunded primary challenger pulled in the rest. Fourth, the most powerful Democrats in Illinois, its legislative majority leaders, especially its House Speaker, have traditionally gotten along better with GOP governors than with their own party's man, meaning their hearts won't be in this race. Fifth, the GOP nominated a moderate, female, state-wide office holder (its treasurer, Judy Barr Topinka). In short, Blagojevich's base is extremely vulnerable to splintering, his own performance is widely regarded as a failure, and Illinois voters historically like MODERATE Republican candidates, especially for governor. Blagojevich has buckets of cash, of course, but the political battlefield is littered with the corpses of wealthy-but-bad candidates. Don't take my word for it - just keep an eye on it.

Posted by: Sean Matheson | April 21, 2006 2:36 PM | Report abuse

It's tragic that the term "personal wealth" crops up repeatedly when discussing candidates. Our political system has been corrupted by money on many levels, and this is undoubtedly the least discussed.

Posted by: bigolpoofter | April 21, 2006 2:08 PM | Report abuse

Chris could you please explain why Pennsylvania is not on the list given the President's backing of Swann, the importance of the electoral votes in the Presidential election and the almost win by the REpublican's in the Philly mayoral race (It was the Man!)

Posted by: AMN | April 21, 2006 1:53 PM | Report abuse

Fall factors not included:

Presuming the nominations go as expected, both Ohio and Pennsylvania will have Republican candidates who are African-American.

This is an effort that the National GOP has been salivating over and planning for. Expect a considerable NATIONAL fund raising effort for both of these races once the primaries are settled. Not sure of the overall impact but trust that the Republicans would be ecstatic to elect African American governors in these two electoral-rich, Great Lakes states and challenge a traditional Democratic base of voters.

Posted by: RMill | April 21, 2006 12:50 PM | Report abuse

Getting brain dead, too much data to keep track of:

Add Minnesota to the Watch List

Gov. Pawlenty approval still above 50% but moving the wrong direction.

Survey USA
April Approval
Pawlenty (R)* 52% (down from 55% in March and 54% in Feb)

Rasmussen
Feb 20
Hatch (D) 45%
Pawlenty(R)* 40%

Zogby/WSJ
March
Hatch (D) 42.6%
Pawlenty (R)* 43.5%

Posted by: RMill | April 21, 2006 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Sorry

Pennsylvania definately needs to be on the watch list.

Gov. Rendell is maintain leads in all polls but they are tight. His recent approval numbers are above 50% and rising.

Survey USA
April Approval
Rendell (D)* 52% (up from 48% in March and 50% in Feb)

Quinnipiac
March 28-April 3
Rendell (D)* 47%
Swann (R) 37%

Rasmussen
March 14
Rendell (D)* 44%
Swann (R) 41%

Zogby/WSJ
March
Rendell (D)* 46.6%
Swann (R) 41.6%

Posted by: RMill | April 21, 2006 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Not sure why Florida has been taken off even if the GOP guys are raising more money. Crist and Gallagher are going to have a dirty primary that will be close, while Davis and Smith have agreed not to get nasty. Davis will win the primary big and Smith will be his running mate for Lt. Gov. With Katherine Harris on the ballot, you can be sure the Democratic turnout will be big in order to bury her. Expect education to be a big topic as the state of Florida is ranked 48th in SAT scores, 50th in graduation rates, and 49th in total education. The "vouchers" in the state are draining well over 100 million dollars from the state education system and definitely have not improved the quality of Florida's schools. Republicans definitely have an advantage, but to take this off the top 10 would be a big mistake.

Posted by: TLH/FL DEM | April 21, 2006 12:29 PM | Report abuse

Consensus Picks:
Cook Political Report
CQ
Sabato
The Fix

NY #1
OH #2
IA #3
AR #4
CO #5
CA #6
MA #7
MD #8
AK #9
FL #10
Bullpen:
WI, MI, MN, AL

My picks:

1. NY -No doubt
2. OH -Strickland still as double digit leads and leads in fundraising and cash on hand
3. AR -Beebe extends lead to double digits
4. MD- Ehrilich is below 50% approval and losing in all polls to O'Malley
5. MA- Healey losing in all polls
6. IA- Pretty much a toss up, most endangered Dem controlled governorship
7. MI- Race has tightened with major spending effort of GOP challenger. Granholm losing approval numbers as MI economu continues to suffer.
8. CA- Only most recent Rasmussen poll has the Guvantor ahead and is dogged by continued poor approval.
9. CO- Race is still essentially tied. Will be a barn burner and down to the wire.
10. WI- Gov. Doyle (D) is holding only a modest 45-40% lead in recent Rasmussen poll, losing by 3 points in Zogby March poll and only recently breached 50% approval after wallowing in the mid-40's.


Races to watch:

Alabama- (my sleeper pick)
Gov. Riley (R) should be doing better in the polls. He is in a tough primary battle with former AL Supreme Court Justice Moore of Ten Commandments fame and approval hovering just above 50% (52% since Feb). Only has modest 47%-40% lead vs. Dem Baxley. This is a downward trend from early poll.

Rasmussen
April 3
Baxley (D) 40%
Riley (R)* 47%

Feb 23
Baxley (D) 37%
Riley (R)* 53%

There is also an independent candidate not included in early polling but which will probably hurt the incumbant.

Alaska- Murkowski has awful approval rating (holding at 29%) but with no real opposition and no annoucnement that he runs for re-election, should stay off the board until these questions are answered.

Florida- While the GOP is definately outraising they are also outspending in a drag out primary. Polls continue to remain tight in head to head with Dem candidates. The Senate race may pull a Dem Gov across the finish line. Polls are coming in split.

Rammussen
April 17
Crist (R) 44%
Davis (D) 33%

Qunnipiac
April 11-17
Crist (R)37%
Davis (D)39%

Zogby/WSJ
March
Crist (R)39.5%
Davis (D)42.3%

Mason Dixon
March 21
Crist (R) 46%
Davis (D) 30%

Posted by: RMill | April 21, 2006 12:23 PM | Report abuse

Just a persnickety correction to your second graf: "...there are 36 governors mansions up for grabs..."
I don't know about all the rest, but Massachusetts and Vermont don't have governors mansions. In Vermont, the guv doesn't even get an office in the State House. It's in the building two doors up the street.

Posted by: Mark in Vermont | April 21, 2006 12:13 PM | Report abuse

Hey, Chris, go to the Des Moines Register and do some research on the HUGE corruption scandal with Gov. Vilsack in Iowa. The news here in IOWA is buzzing every day, and it will drag down the Democrat party and demolish Vilsack's dream of the White House in 2008.
Nussle divorce? Big deal, most people recover and remain in politics. The surrounding states have lots of Democrats who had horrible divorces, Byron Dorgan, Kent Conrad, Tom Dashel, and of course Ted Kennedy with his poor depressed wife who finally dumped him years and other Dems who are still in politics with their messy marriages, like Hillary Clinton. So if the media want to throw stones at Nussle for his divorce, you be seen as protecting the Dems if you ignore the corruption in Iowa.

Posted by: Denise | April 21, 2006 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Chris, though I've been strongly for MD to change hands, I have to say, we really have to wait a week or two to really see where things are in the state.

Last night Erhlich really helped himself out a lot by striking a deal to curb electricity prices in Baltimore and the DC suburbs from increasing up to 70% this summer. This is going to be the biggest issue in the state, and really could have a lot of people looking at Erhlich depending on how the deal plays.

The actual specifics of the deal aren't good, but Erhlich can always blame the overwhelmingly Democratic General Assembly for not getting a better deal before the session ended, but we know the Governor sat back and let the deal fall apart, so his co-conspirators at the electric companies, could give him a deal he could take sole credit for.

Sad part is that its Marylanders that are gonna suffer from this hard ball politicking, I guess we just have to wait and see if the press has the guts to report the truth of this story.

Posted by: RCDennis | April 21, 2006 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Re Iowa: Culver, the frontrunner, has been consistent in polling at about a third. He benefits from state-wide name recognition, but is considered weak because of little movement in polling despite that recognition. Fallon and Blouin however, are still around 45%-50% unknown throughout the state. Fallon's Grassroots campaigning and Issue based platform will motivate voters not reached by polling, and both candidates should expect a boost in numbers from media campaigns which will begin soon for the June 6th Primary. I believe Fallon to have more support than polling shows- as such, you might consider adding his name and bio to the list of contenders.

Posted by: Adam | April 21, 2006 11:50 AM | Report abuse

In Florida, Davis has a chance, as long as people keep confusing his cluelessness for thoughtfulness. He is, alas, an empty suit. Crist is an empty suit with a tan.

Posted by: butchie b | April 21, 2006 11:44 AM | Report abuse

SR,
Spitzer is definitly on the early Presidential watch lists. He is a true blue success story and he is going to do great things for New York. Imagine Guiliani but smarter and with more fire.
There was even talk that he might run in 2008, but he squashed that rumor quickly. My thought is look for a Obama/Spitzer or vice versa in 2012 or 16.

Posted by: Andy R | April 21, 2006 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Recent polls
Governors

1. NY (open)R
Zogby/WSJ
March
Spitzer (D) 59.2%
Weld (R) 22.2%

Spitzer (D) 60.9%
Faso (R) 20.9%

Quinnipiac
Dem Primary- Jan
Spitzer 72%
Suozi 8%

Dem Primary- Mar
Spitzer (D) 69%
Suozi (D) 14%

2. OH (open)R
Survey USA
April 4-
Dem Primary
Strickland 60%
Flannery 15%

Rep Primary
Blackwell 46%
Petro 32%

Rasmussen
March 28
Strickland (D) 50%
Blackwell (R) 40%

Strickland (D) 47%
Petro (R) 34%

Zogby/WSJ
March
Strickland (D) 46.6%
Blackwell (R) 40.6%

Strickland (D)45.6%
Petro (R) 30.5%

Columbus Dispatch
March 15-20
Dem Primary
Strickland 51%
Flannery 8%

Rep Primary
Blackwell 39%
Petro 28%

Akron Beacon Journal
March 25
Dem Primary
Strickland 48.3%
Flannery 8.5%

Rep Primary
Blackwell 39.3%
Petro 32%

ABJ Head to Head
Strickland (D) 37.9%
Blackwell (R) 32.8%

Strickland (D) 32%
Petro (R) 28.3%

3. IA (open)D
Rasmussen
March 29

Culver (D)40%
Nussle (R) 38%

Zogby/WSJ

Culver (D) 42.4%
NUssle (R) 46.1%

4. AR (open)R
Rasmussen
April 3

Beebe (D) 47%
Hutchinson (R) 36%

Zogby/WSJ
March

Beebe (D) 47.2%
Hutchinson (R) 41.3%

5. WI (D)
Survey USA
April Approval
Doyle (D)* 52% (up from 44% in March)

Rasmussen
March 20
Doyle (D)* 45%
Green (R) 40%

Zogby/WSJ
Doyle (D)* 44.3%
Green (R) 47.4%

6. MA (open)R
Survey USA
April 10
Dem Primary
Patrick 36%
Reilly 33%
Gabrieli 19%

Rasmussen
April 10

Patrick (D) 34%
Healey (R) 27%
Mihos (I)19%

Reilly (D) 34%
Healey (R) 27%
Mihos (I) 21%

Zogby/WSJ
March
Patrick (D) 53%
Healey (R)33.1%

Reilly (D) 48%
Healey (R) 31.5%

7. MD (R)
Survey USA
April Approval
Ehrlich (R)* 48% (same as March, down from 55% in Feb)

Rasmussen
April 18
Duncan (D)45%
Ehrlich (R)* 43%

O'Malley (D) 51%
Ehrlich (R)* 42%

Zogby/WSJ
March

Duncan (D) 45.1%
Ehrlich (R)* 43.2%

O'Malley (D) 48.1%
Ehrlich (R)* 42.9%

Gonzales/Boyd
April 4-13
Dem Primary
Duncan 35%
O'Malley 44%

HTH
Duncan (D) 44%
Ehrlich (R)* 42%

O'Malley (D) 46%
Ehrlich (R)* 41%

8. MI (D)
Surevy USA
April Approval
Granholm (D)* 40% (down from 45% in March, 41% in Feb)

Rasmussen
March 20
Granholm (D)* 44%
DeVos (R) 44%

Zogby/WSJ
March
Granholm (D)* 48.6%
DeVos (R) 42.9%

9. CO (open)R
Rasmussen
March 29
Ritter (D) 41%
Beauprez (R) 40%

Ritter (D) 41%
Lindstrom (R) 36%

Zogby/WSJ
March
Ritter (D) 39.9%
Beauprez (R) 38.1%

10.CA (R)
Survey USA
April Approval
Schwarzenegger (R)* 35% (down from 36% in March, up from Feb 32%)

Rasmussen
April 5
Angelides (D) 36%
Schwarzenegger (R)* 49%

Westley (D) 40%
Schwarzenegger (R)* 48%

Zogby/WSJ
March
Angelides (D) 47.2%
Schwarzenegger (R)* 41.3%

Posted by: RMill | April 21, 2006 11:33 AM | Report abuse

As a born-and-bred Texan (not like that Yankee George Bush), born with a rattlesnake in my crib in throwing distance of the Alamo (true story), I think the Texas governor's race is likely to go Dem, given all the NoLa refugees who have permanently settled in the state who hate Bush and his crew with a passion. They take his ineptitude personally and are likely to take it out on anyone chummy with him.

Posted by: Will in Seattle | April 21, 2006 11:26 AM | Report abuse

If comments from Florida voters are a benchmark, that swing state, where a lot of voters now hate anything named Bush with a passion that surprises even myself, I wouldn't count out Florida going Dem for the Gubernatorial race this time.

Expect interesting results on election night.

Posted by: Will in Seattle | April 21, 2006 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Chris,
Is the race for governor of PA on your radar? Former Steeler Swann and current governor Rendell race could get very interesting this summer/fall. Rendell will get the Philly area and Swann is very popular in the Pittsburgh area. I think the area between Philly and Pittsburgh will be the deciding factor.

Posted by: Christine M | April 21, 2006 11:01 AM | Report abuse

Interesting, I hadn't thought of Spitzer as a Pres. hopeful. Could a New Yorker pull it off on the heels of Hillary Clinton in 08? I think the best chance one of them had was Mario Cuomo who missed it in 88 and 92.

Jake: we don't know that Bill Clinton didn't take his marriage oath seriously. They may have an open marriage.

Posted by: Sandwich Repairman | April 21, 2006 10:46 AM | Report abuse

Chris,

I don't know if the Dems will use it against Nussle like his now running mate Bob Vander Plaats had been doing in the primary, but Nussle had an ugly divorce. It's common knowledge in Nussle's congressional district that the divorce had something to do with Nussle taking the marriage oath as seriously as Bill Clinton. I don't know how this will play with social conservatives, but Nussle's own running mate, Bob Vander Plaats, had surrogates bringing it up on the campaign trail before he jumped on board the Nussle ticket.

http://www.carrollspaper.com/main.asp?SectionID=4&SubSectionID=25&ArticleID=1159&TM=40336.52

Posted by: Jake R | April 21, 2006 10:34 AM | Report abuse

Andy R. I think you are dead on with that.

Posted by: Dan W | April 21, 2006 10:31 AM | Report abuse

RE: Texas governor's race. A lot yet to unfold here before anyone can offer a reasonable prognostication, but it is a very fluid situation. Incumbent Perry (derisively known as Governor Good Hair, even among nominal Republicans) has done nothing to reverse his image as an empty suit, intellectual lightweight, political grudge specialist. If Republican Comptroller (former non-partisan, former Democrat) Carol Keeton McClellan Rylander Strayhorn makes the ballot as an independent, and personality Kinky Friedman (think Jesse Ventura with wit and brains) does also, it makes for an uncomfortable November for Perry. After all, it only takes a plurality to win, and there is a 30% + Yellow Dog Democratic base still in Texas that Demo Bell can count on.

Perry is also embroiled in the midst of a special legislative session on school finance (the third of a seris of unsuccessful sessions on the subject). Lightning could strike and Perry come out of it better than he went in, but chances are about 80-20 against him. NOBODY in Texas likes anything the lege and Gov do on schools, much less taxes.

Keep your powder dry on Texas for a few weeks.

Posted by: Henly | April 21, 2006 10:31 AM | Report abuse

O'Malley is the rock star - but Duncan is also good - just low key.
The battle of 2 Marylands... Balmur and high class Montgomery county.
Duke it out boys! And crush Ehrlich!

Posted by: Stacey | April 21, 2006 10:16 AM | Report abuse

Mass is a lock to change hands.
Healey wouldn't have won the primary four years ago if it wasn't for Romney basically force feeding her down the Republicans throat. Not to Mention that Romney is not well like right now even with the new healthcare plan. I think whoever comes out on top of the Democratic primary (by the way it will be Reilly although I like Patrick alot) they will stomp Healey in the general.

Posted by: Andy R | April 21, 2006 10:07 AM | Report abuse

The more things change, the more they stay the same; so does it really matter who, for no matter what, the results stay the same, i.e., crime, poverty, class stratification, misinformation, favoritism graft and corruption?

There must be a better system than the one that we have in America to govern a country and each of its states!

Posted by: Rev. C. Solomon | April 21, 2006 10:03 AM | Report abuse

Chris,

I understand how the ability to raise money impacts one's ability to win, but Ross Perot proved money does not always buys an election - 4 years ago Tony Sanchez (dem) and all of his money could not even get the Latinos to turn out for him in a governors race.

Texas is oil - the Republicans are oil (Oil could be Perry's death nail )- although the the 8+ billion dollar surplus in the Texas budget from the high price of oil could prove to be the key to Perry winning in a landslide.

It is way too early to write off Bell - lets wait until at least September before we call the election.

Chris, now make up for your bad deed in writing off Chris Bell and send him at least $100.00

Remember you Democrats out there, if the US Supreme Court throws out Gov. Perry's redistricting, a Democrat in the Governor's house could insure more Democrats get elected to the HOuse of Representatives.

BObby Wightman-Cervantes
www,balancingtheissues.com

Posted by: Bobby Wightman-Cervantes | April 21, 2006 9:41 AM | Report abuse

Can anyone provide insight on these races in a way NOT tied to deep pockets.

Mass: Healey is in for a difficult time. The total failure on the part of Romney to control the tide of business out of the state is going to hurt her. He got elected by claiming to bring new business into the state. He totally failed.

Lucky for her that the health care law won't have been implemented by the time of the election. Once people begin to understand the implications of the new law, Romney's enthusiastic support for the law will go against her as well.

I suspect this one to be for the Democrat's to lose.

Posted by: Dan W | April 21, 2006 9:40 AM | Report abuse

How does Florida fall off the list the day after a poll comes out with Jim Davis leading Charlie Crist?

Posted by: anon | April 21, 2006 9:34 AM | Report abuse

I wonder about the Pennsylvania gubernatorial race. Former Pittsburgh Steeler Lynn Swann is a favorite in western Pennsylvania and Governor Rendell's popularity centers on the Philidelphia media market. If Philadelphians do not turn out in droves in the next election, it might be a tight race. However, Swann may not be ready for the prime time. I wonder if this race should potentially crack the top ten at some point?

Posted by: Jeremy | April 21, 2006 9:28 AM | Report abuse

Hey Chris, caught your act on the radio yesterday on W-whatever-the-heck it is now that the WaPo has taken over WTOP. You were good, seriously. Very interesting discussion on House and Senate races.

Your colleague Al Kamen had me laughing out loud reading from Harry Reid's recent floor statement. (These ought to be good days to be a Democrat...if we weren't being led by the utterly feckless!)

Meantime, did you hear that Fox News' poll has Bush down to 33 percent? I'll bet they had to bring psychological crisis teams in to treat the staff after they reported that! HA!

At least he finally issued an apology to someone, unfortunately it was to a dictator who was properly excoriated for murdering people for practicing their religion. Oh well Dubya, it's a start.

Perhaps the Muse should update latest parody to reflect new numbers…how low can he go?

Bush on Bush: 37% is remarkable achievement for an underachiever.
http://www.eyewitnessmuse.com/musings.php?p=215

Posted by: The Eyewitness Muse | April 21, 2006 9:13 AM | Report abuse

What about Georgia?? The current Republican governor (Sonny Perdue) won the seat because of some unusual turn-outs four years ago related to the Confederate flag and hacked-off school teachers. Perdue was not popular or even well-known before theat, and hasn't advanced himself much with the public since.

Perdue will be challenged by either Sec of State Cathy Cox or Lt.Gov. Mark Taylor, both of whom are well-known and credible, and, hey, rational. Sec. Cox is the more articulate and progressive, and would stand a good shot at beating the incumbent this fall.

Don't write Georgia off just because of a red history in national elections. We're a conservative state, but getting a little tired of the current administration that leaves us looking like "Bubba Land."

Posted by: Tom Bordeaux | April 21, 2006 9:06 AM | Report abuse

GOP's slide across U.S. may give boost to Democratic candidates for governor
http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/local/florida/sfl-ppoll20xapr20,0,1651357.story?coll=sfla-news-florida

Poll Shows Tight Florida Governors Race
http://www.tbo.com/news/politics/MGBYSJLG8ME.html

Posted by: ssss | April 21, 2006 8:56 AM | Report abuse

Chris, you kinda blew the MD governor's race. I cite a poll released today by conservative-leaning Rasmussen polling.

-------------

April 21, 2006--Governor Bob Ehrlich (R) now trails Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley (D) 51% to 42% in this heavily Democratic state. O'Malley has been credited with running a very effective campaign.

Governor Ehrlich also trails Montgomery County Executive Doug Duncan by a couple points, 45% to 43%.

It was clear last summer Ehrlich would have a tough battle to hold onto the seat he narrowly won in 2002. He then narrowly led O'Malley and was a percentage point behind Duncan.

By November, Ehrlich was trailing both Democrats. With just one exception , the incumbent has trailed in our election polls ever since.

http://www.rasmussenreports.com/2006/State%20Polls/April%202006/Maryland%20Governor%20April.htm

Posted by: Gaithersburg, MD | April 21, 2006 8:50 AM | Report abuse

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