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April 20, 2014

Posts in "Gubernatorial"

March 4, 2014

Ratings Change: Illinois Governor

Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn of Illinois has been a political survivor, but the incumbent is facing his toughest race yet.

Quinn looked like a loser in 2010, when eight out of the nine public polls in October showed him losing, but he won. This cycle, it looked like the governor couldn’t get out of the Democratic primary, yet he cleared the field. Full story

February 4, 2014

Ratings Change: Kansas Governor

Is Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback at risk of losing re-election in a state Mitt Romney carried with 60 percent? An automated poll showing the GOP governor behind, a Democratic challenger who raised $1 million, and a group of moderate Republicans threatening to oppose Brownback have some people calling Kansas a sleeper race for 2014. But how vulnerable is he really?

State House Minority Leader Paul Davis, the likely Democratic nominee, looks like a credible contender. He has quickly consolidated the Democratic base while Brownback still has some work to do in rallying Republicans. Until that happens, we’re changing the Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call rating of the race to Republican Favored from Safe Republican.

A just-released Republican poll showed the governor leading Davis 42 percent to 31 percent. Brownback also had 45 percent favorable and 41 percent unfavorable ratings. The survey of likely voters was conducted on Jan. 29 by WPA Opinion Research.

You can read a more complete analysis of the race in “What’s the Matter with Brownback” ($), in the latest edition of the Rothenberg Political Report.

Updated 3:52pm to clarify the difference between the automated survey from last year and the new GOP poll from this year.

January 15, 2014

The Christie Investigation: From Inquiry to Lynching?

011514christie 426x335 The Christie Investigation: From Inquiry to Lynching?

Christie is the second-term governor of New Jersey. (Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

The two key questions are obvious. What did New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie know, and when did he know it?

When I first heard about the George Washington Bridge scandal, I assumed that the governor knew about the phony “traffic study” and the plan to stick it to Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich. Like almost every political reporter and analyst in Washington, D.C., I’m incredibly cynical, making it easy for me to believe the worst about any politician.

We still don’t know whether Christie told the entire truth at his news conference last week or whether the many investigations that are now developing — about the bridge scandal but also about other decisions made by the governor during his time in office — will show poor judgment or even malfeasance. Full story

December 16, 2013

Is Arkansas Really the Land of Opportunity for Democrats?

pryor 298 102913 445x290 Is Arkansas Really the Land of Opportunity for Democrats?

Pryor is vulnerable in 2014. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

When we think of political battlegrounds, states like Ohio and Florida come to mind. But every so often, a small state becomes a partisan political battleground.

This cycle, that’s Arkansas — about as unlikely a state as you might imagine.

While Democrats see Arkansas as a place to mount a counterattack after a series of defeats, Republicans believe that it will be the Democrats’ Waterloo. Eleven months from now we will know who is right.

Four races are worth watching, and if Democrats can’t win with the candidates they have, they will have every reason to write off the state in the future. Full story

December 12, 2013

The DNC’s Deceptive Message on Louisiana

I wasn’t surprised to get an email recently from a regional Democratic National Committee press secretary seeking to tarnish the credentials of Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.

After all, Jindal has become an outspoken Republican elected official and is mentioned as a possible contender for president in 2016. And if national Democrats can soften him up now, maybe that will help the prospects of the state’s senior senator, Mary L. Landrieu, who is up for re-election next year.

Still, the DNC email raised a question because it included this quote from the Times-Picayune, the largest newspaper in the state: “Jindal’s meager record at home won’t get him to the White House.”

Screen shot 2013 12 12 at 10.11.01 AM 445x183 The DNCs Deceptive Message on Louisiana


Full story

November 25, 2013

If Linda Lingle Could, Why Can’t Wendy Davis?

112513wendydavis 445x306 If Linda Lingle Could, Why Can’t Wendy Davis?

Davis is running for governor of Texas in 2014. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

As longtime readers of this column know, voters in one-party states sometimes elect the nominee of the “wrong” party as governor. Today’s question is whether state Sen. Wendy Davis, a Democrat, has a fighting chance to win next year’s gubernatorial election in Texas, which remains a rock-solid Republican state.

Davis was elected to the Fort Worth City Council in 1999 and was re-elected four times. She defeated an incumbent Republican state senator in 2008, and four years later she squeezed out re-election, 51.1 percent to 48.9 percent, against a Republican member of the state House who challenged her in what the Star-Telegram termed a “brawl.”  

In June, Davis filibustered Senate Bill 5, which would have banned abortions after 20 weeks and imposed new regulations on doctors and clinics performing abortions in Texas. The Fort Worth Democrat was successful in blocking a vote at the end of the special session, but Gov. Rick Perry called a second special session and the bill passed. It was signed into law on July 18. Full story

November 11, 2013

Why Most Postmortems of Virginia’s Gubernatorial Race Are Wrong

The dust has settled (mostly) from last week’s elections, so I thought it time to present a very different assessment of what happened in Virginia than the snapshot I’ve seen from others.

For example, Democracy Corps and Women’s Voices, Women Vote Action Fund distributed a wholly self-serving and unconvincing memo titled “Unmarried Women Cast Deciding Votes in Virginia Election.” It’s unconvincing, of course, because Republicans always lose unmarried women, regardless of an election’s outcome. Unmarried women are more liberal than most voters and are not part of any winning Republican coalition.

NBC’s Domenico Montanaro and The Washington Post’s Jonathan Capehart credited African-American turnout for Democrat Terry McAuliffe’s victory, as did Jamelle Bouie of The Daily Beast. Wrong as well, I’m afraid.

Others have noted, quite incorrectly, that the partisan makeup of the 2013 electorate wasn’t very different from the makeup of the 2012 electorate in Virginia, suggesting that Democrats have found some formula for turning out key voting groups in lower turnout elections that could help them offset what most expect to be a less Democratic-inclined electorate for the 2014 midterms.

While these assessments tell a part of the story and certainly should force Republican voters and strategists to take a clear-eyed look at the long-term prospects of the current GOP coalition, they don’t explain last week’s results in Virginia, nor do they offer meaningful insights into 2014. Full story

November 7, 2013

Buyer Beware: There Are Polls, and Then There Are Polls

Given the “success” (note sarcasm) of some polls in the Virginia gubernatorial race Tuesday, it might be worthwhile to note the very divergent surveys in the Texas gubernatorial race.

Public Policy Polling, which showed Terry McAuliffe with a 7-point lead among likely voters right before the election, found Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott leading Democratic state Sen. Wendy Davis by 15 points in its November 1-4 survey of 500 “Texas voters,” 50 percent to 35 percent. PPP, a Democratic firm based in North Carolina, used automated telephone interviews in conducting the survey.

But a University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll of 1,200 registered voters, conducted October 18-27, found the margin a much more narrow 6 points, 40 percent to 34 percent. The University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll is conducted by YouGov, which employs a controversial methodology. The survey, conducted over the Internet, relies on “a proprietary opt-in survey panel” that is not selected randomly. Full story

November 6, 2013

Victory Is in the Eye of the Beholder in New Jersey, Virginia and Alabama

 Victory Is in the Eye of the Beholder in New Jersey, Virginia and Alabama

McAuliffe, left, and Christie won last night. (Getty Images)

Tuesday’s election results offer something for everyone.

Democrats can look at Virginia and conclude that Republican “extremism” on social issues like abortion, contraception and guns, combined with the deep divisions that appeared in the Alabama 1st District GOP primary results, continue to offer them opportunities for 2014 and virtually guarantee victory in 2016.

Republicans can look at the tightness of the Virginia contest and conclude that the unpopularity of Obamacare strengthens their hand for 2014 and will be an albatross around the neck of the Democratic presidential nominee in 2016. Full story

November 1, 2013

Ratings Change: Nevada Governor

Sometimes political handicapping can be difficult — a life of agonizing over whether a race leans to one party or the other or is a genuine tossup. But there is one way to identify a “safe” race.

You can’t beat somebody with nobody, and that’s exactly where Democrats are in Nevada in their race against Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval. Full story

The Most Vulnerable Governor in the Country

132335126 445x296 The Most Vulnerable Governor in the Country

Corbett is seeking re-election in 2014 in the Keystone State. (Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

There is still a year until the midterm election, but Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett is in very serious jeopardy of losing re-election in 2014.

The Republican governor’s polling numbers continue to sag. According to a new survey, conducted October 22-27 by Franklin & Marshall College, just 19 percent of registered voters gave Corbett an excellent or good job rating, while 39 percent said “only a fair job” and 37 percent gave him a poor rating. Just 20 percent said he deserves re-election and 25 percent believed Pennsylvania is headed in the right direction.

That’s just the latest in a series of polls over the course of the year that have showed Corbett with slumping job ratings, poor personal image with voters and often trailing in general-election ballot tests. Full story

October 31, 2013

Ratings Change: New Hampshire Governor

New Hampshire could have two competitive contests next year, but the gubernatorial race isn’t likely to be one of them.

Republicans are focused on unseating Reps. Carol Shea-Porter and Ann McLane Kuster, in part because Gov. Maggie Hassan is still enjoying good job ratings, even though the Democrat hasn’t finished a year in office.

The Granite State elects a governor every two years, so Hassan is up for a second term even though she was just elected in 2012 with 55 percent. Republican state Rep. George Lambert, but party strategists on both sides of the aisle don’t give him much of a chance. Full story

October 21, 2013

Democrats Look for Mini-Wave in Arkansas in 2014

Farm 04 0425133 445x295 Democrats Look for Mini Wave in Arkansas in 2014

Pryor is vulnerable in his 2014 re-election race. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Barack Obama received just 39 percent of the vote in Arkansas in the last presidential race, but that’s not stopping Democratic optimism in the Razorback State in 2014.

Even though next year’s midterm elections began as a referendum on the president, Democrats believe they can re-elect Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor, hold the open governorship and take over at least one House district — particularly now that GOP Rep. Tim Griffin has announced his unexpected decision not to seek re-election.

Griffin’s 2nd District is the the most Democratic in Arkansas, but it’s all relative in a largely Republican state at the federal level. Obama received 43 percent in 2012 and 44 percent in 2008 in that district. John Kerry received nearly 48 percent there in 2004, which is just one piece of evidence of a higher ceiling for a white Democratic candidate. Full story

October 2, 2013

Surprise! Christie Looks Strong for Re-Election in New Jersey

Christie 009 070912 445x315 Surprise! Christie Looks Strong for Re Election in New Jersey

Christie is seeking re-election in November. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Gov. Chris Christie has had a significant advantage for months. But the Democratic lean of the Garden State, and the potential that his good standing would wane after Superstorm Sandy, gave us some pause in the certainty of the governor’s re-election.

That caution looks unnecessary at this point. Full story

September 23, 2013

Family Politics: When Water Is Thicker Than Blood

The relationship between parents and children can be complicated, particularly when both are politicians.

On Monday, state Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger announced that he wouldn’t challenge Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan in North Carolina.

In an interview with Reid Wilson of The Washington Post before his decision, Berger mentioned professional commitments to his colleagues at the state level as well as personal commitments to his family.

Rockingham County District Attorney Phil Berger Jr. wants to run for Congress when GOP Rep. Howard Coble’s 6th District seat becomes open, and local sources say the elder Berger wasn’t interested in taking a political step this cycle that might hurt his son’s chances.

Berger wouldn’t have to give up his post as one of the most powerful politicians in the state just because his son was running for Congress. But he has been openly supportive of his son’s political aspirations in private conversations and realized that a Senate run could make his son’s life more complicated. Full story

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