In this post, I’ll be discussing my new 2018 Gubernatorial predictions. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out my updated Senate predictions.
Before we get into the races, let’s take a look at my starting map. This map rates every competitive state as a tossup, no matter how likely it is to go to one party or another.
For those who are unfamiliar with the map, solid Democratic states like Vermont and Massachusetts are safe Red because the Republicans governing them are moderates and very popular. Likewise, states like Kansas and Oklahoma are competitive because of the unpopularity of the Republican Governors there.
Because of the amount of tossup states, I’m going to make 5 groups of states based on their positioning and voter trends.
Maine, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Rhode Island
While most of the North East is safe Democratic for Presidential candidates, Governor candidates are a different story. Many of the Republicans serving as or running for Governor in the North East are socially liberal and have an appeal to Democrats. They are usually very popular, which is why states like Vermont are safe. However, not all are extremely popular, and the Governors of Maine and New Hampshire could be voted out. On the other hand, the local Democratic parties in Connecticut and Rhode Island are unpopular with voters, and they both provide possible pickup opportunities. In the North East, I see Democrats picking up Maine, and every other state staying with their current party.
Greater Rust Belt Area
Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Maryland
There are a lot of states in this category, and they’re all pretty competitive. To start with, it’s worth noting that, of the states here, Democrats only hold Minnesota and Pennsylvania. Despite tough competitions there, I think they’ll hold those seats. In Illinois, a strongly Democratic state, the Republican Governor is unpopular and was almost ousted in a primary. In a Democratic midterm, I think it’s likely that Illinois will flip. In Maryland, much like in Vermont, the Republican is popular, but no enough so to be safe. I think Larry Hogan will be reelected. Wisconsin and Michigan, both states that barely flipped for Trump, have either an unpopular Governor, or a Governor that can’t run again. After the Wisconsin Supreme Court election, and looking at national trends, I see both of these states flipping for the Democrats. Ohio and Iowa, both trending Republican, I think will stay Republican, but Ohio will be closer than Iowa.
Florida is a very competitive state, a true swing state. Their current Governor, Rick Scott, cannot run again. With the recent events that have taken place in Florida, I think voter turnout will be higher than average, especially in the younger cohorts. Lot’s of money will be thrown at this race, and polling has shown a dead heat. In the end, I think Democrats will flip this state. In Georgia, Governor Nathan Deal cannot run for reelection. Last night, we learned that Stacey Abrams will be the Democratic nominee, with a runoff on the Republican side between Casey Cagle and Brian Kemp. Polling has shown Abrams ahead of Kemp and within five points of Cagle. I’ll have to wait until after the runoff, and after some more polls are released, to make a decision, but for now I’m leaving the state as leaning Republican.
Both Kansas and Oklahoma, while safe Republican states, have (or had) unpopular Republican Governors. If Democrats field the right candidates, a large voter crossover could occur. As such, both states are worth looking at, but they’re far from being actually competitive. Republicans have a lot of money and influence in these states.
Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado.
The only state Democrats hold in this area is Colorado, and they’ll probably keep it given it’s voting trends. In New Mexico, Susana Martinez is ineligible to run again, making the state a likely Democratic pickup. In Nevada, voting trends and the fact that Sandoval can’t run again makes this seat a possible pickup. That leaves us with Arizona, which isn’t seen as competitive by most pundits. However, polling has shown Democratic candidates with a slight edge over Doug Ducey, and he is not the most popular Governor. While Ducey does have lots of money, it may just be that Democrats haven’t gotten enough recognition yet to gather donations. Later in the year, this race should be considered much closer than it is. For now, I think it leans Republican.
This leaves us with Alaska, which has an Independent(-Democratic) Governor. While he is unpopular in the state, he has proven that he can garner enough Republican votes, along with the Democratic votes, to win the state. In 2018, I think he’ll do it again.
Here’s my final map. Keep in mind that some states, such as Georgia, have yet to determine candidates and therefore are not final predictions.