Don’t Let the Statehouse Door Hit You on the Way Out
Amidst the embarras de richesses of House and Senate seat pickups Republicans anticipate this midterm election cycle, one plum reward they shouldn’t forget is their likely aggressive gains in gubernatorial contests across the country.
A record-breaking 37 states are holding governor’s races this November—the same number of seats open in the Senate, which has twice the number of positions as the country has governorships. Republicans hold 24 out of 50 governorships but will probably have at least 30 after November 2. RealClearPolitics identifies 9 elections as “Safe GOP” and none as “Safe Dem.” Republicans beat Democrats in the “Likely” category (5 to 4) and the “Leans” category (7 to 5).
Rasmussen Reports notes, “No states with a Republican governor are considered likely to elect a Democrat in November. But eight states now headed by Democrats—Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Wisconsin and Wyoming—are seen as likely GOP pickups.”
The allocation of governorships is important in and of itself, but also has implications for the U.S. House of Representatives, given the role of governors in reapportioning districts for House seats based on the 2010 Census.
GOP prospects aren’t universally rosy. Forget loose cannon Carl Paladino, who was never going to win blue state New York; or Meg Whitman, a celebri-billionaire like Governor Schwarzenegger who doesn’t fit the profile of what voters are looking for in that fickle, atypical state. But in the rest of the country, the map of governorships is turning blood red.
Massachusetts incumbent Deval Patrick faces a shockingly close reelection race: the latest Boston Globe poll shows him ahead of Republican Charles Baker within the statistical margin of error. Patrick has yet to reach 50% support in the polls—typically the kiss of death for an incumbent. And all of this is happening in the presence of a third-party candidate, Timothy Cahill, who is drawing more votes from Baker than Patrick.
The Wall Street Journal’s Kimberly Strassel reports that Republican and even Democratic candidates are pledging to emulate the modus operandi of recently elected New Jersey governor Chris Christie, who has stood up to powerful unions, slashed spending, and vetoed tax increases.
Rhode Island Democratic candidate Frank Caprio has tried to improve his chances by (1) rudely distancing himself from President Barack Obama, (2) being more conservative than former Republican/current Independent competitor Lincoln Chafee, and (3) meeting with Republican leaders in Washington over the objections of state Democratic groups.
In order to complete their gubernatorial coup d’état, the GOP will of course have to beat back the 30% of the populace who constitute the terminally, willfully, irredeemably ignorant—what Mark Levin calls the “drones.”
In the close Ohio governor’s race, voters who favor Democratic incumbent Ted Strickland demonstrated their firm grasp of the issues and fine deductive powers in a series of interviews with the Toledo Blade. Resident Heather Elliott, who favors Strickland, babbled, “I kind of like everything that he stands for. I think he’s going to do what we need, and I just have a good feeling about him… A lot of the [Strickland] commercials I have seen, maybe fair or unfair, they have swayed me against him.” Fair or unfair—it’s all the same when it comes to recruiting potential Democratic voters! That’s in the Democratic National Committee bylaws.
In one breath, would-be voter Elliott displays: (1) vagueness about her reasons for supporting the Democrat, (2) a propensity to vote for the Democrat on the basis of emotion, and (3) an admission that the Democrat’s negative ads are unfair. Remind me: why are we always encouraging people who have no idea what they’re doing to vote?
Fellow Ohio resident Gwen Frisby favors Strickland, despite Ohio’s miserable financial condition, because “It’s almost more that I don’t like how the Republicans are acting toward him.” Yes, and Frisby probably supports Obama’s destructive policies because it’s almost more that she doesn’t like how the Republicans are acting toward him.
Genius independent voter Lillian Edmondson gushes that she will support Patrick in Taxachusettstan because “I think he tries hard. He comes across as a very nice man…” California voter Paula Bennett muses that she will favor Jerry Brown over Whitman because “I like the little guy; he didn’t have the money behind him like she did.”
Ideologically speaking, one has to wonder: are governorships a more natural fit for Republicans, and Congressional offices a more natural fit for Democrats? In modern political times, Republicans have done relatively better capturing and retaining governorships, whereas Democrats have done better in Congress. Is this because governors have more of what we shall call, oh, “actual responsibilities”? Without diminishing Congress’s duties, it's a fact that governors have to balance state budgets, can’t order the Federal Reserve to print more money while they run up infinite balance sheets, and must make tough and unpopular unilateral decisions without hiding in a crowd.
Though voter discontent this year seems focused mostly on Washington—thus Democratic Senators and Representatives’ perilous election prospects—Republican governors’ elevated chances around the country shouldn’t be surprising. Christie and Bob McDonnell’s upset of their opponents in special elections in New Jersey and Virginia foreshadowed this pattern last November, when Obama had been in office only 10 months instead of 22. And that was before Congress rammed through ObamaCare.
All across America it seems voters this year will be telling Democratic gubernatorial candidates to take their agenda and shove it.