Many Governors Facing Possible Upsets on Tuesday
Policy + Politics

Many Governors Facing Possible Upsets on Tuesday

The battle for control of the Senate in Tuesday’s midterm election has been getting most of the attention, yet many of the governors’ races are white-knuckle affairs that could result in major upsets that would roil state politics throughout the country.

There are 14 states with gubernatorial races that have been deemed “tossups” by The Cook Political Report, including 10 races in which incumbents are fighting for their political lives. While the Republicans appear headed for a strong showing in the Senate contests, seven of the most endangered incumbent governors are Republican and only three are Democrats.

Related: 11 Incumbent Governors Are in the Hot Seat This Fall   

In three of the tightest gubernatorial contests - Florida, Michigan and Illinois – Public Policy Polling’s final polls of the political season show those races “incredibly tight.”

In Florida, Republican Governor Rick Scott and former Governor Charlie Crist, a one-time Republican now running as a Democrat, are deadlocked 44 percent to 44 percent. Libertarian candidate Adrian Wylie has six percent of likely voters, and he is severely complicating Crist’s efforts to topple Scott.

A Quinnipiac University poll released on Monday showed Crist with a one-point lead over Scott among likely voters, 42 percent to 41 percent for Scott. Wyllie had seven percent, with nine percent still undecided.  

Related: Obama Campaigns in Few States Where Dems Still Want Him   

Neither Scott nor Crist are considered likeable by voters, and tensions have run so high in the campaign that Scott almost refused to take part in a recent debate when Crist brought a small fan onstage.

Meanwhile, in Michigan, Republican Gov. Rick Snyder is clinging to a one-point lead over Democratic challenger Mark Schauer, 46 percent to 45 percent, according to PPP. The race has been extraordinarily close since Labor Day.

State Races
Source:  The New Republic

Although Michigan’s long-suffering economy is finally improving, the state’s unemployment rate continues to lag behind the national average. Snyder contends his policies have primed the state for continued growth, but Schauer – a former House member and state legislator – has argued that the national recovery has left too many Michigan residents behind

Finally, in Illinois, Gov. Pat Quinn – one of the least popular governors in the country – is struggling to hang on for another term. Quinn has been sharply criticized for his handling of the state budget and pension fund and for raising taxes. A mere 31 percent of voters approve of the job he is doing compared to 54 percent who disapprove.

Even so, Quinn holds a slight lead for reelection over Republican challenger, wealthy businessman Bruce Rauner, 47 percent to 45 percent. Only 58 percent of Democrats approve of Quinn’s job performance, yet 83 percent are nevertheless voting for him.

Related: Obama’s ‘Fair Weather’ Democratic Friends May Have Sealed Their Own Fate  

Other prominent Republican incumbents are facing possible defeat in Tuesday’s election including Scott Walker of Wisconsin, Sam Brownback of Kansas, Tom Corbett of Pennsylvania, Nathan Deal of Georgia and Paul LePage of Maine.

Walker, a potential Republican presidential candidate in 2016, survived a previous recall election but is facing strong opposition from labor groups and public employees over his policies. Brownback – a darling of the Tea Party – has gotten into serious hot water because his steep tax cuts and spending reductions have sparked a serious debt and public services problem.

Democratic governors Dan Malloy of Connecticut and John Hickenlooper of Colorado are also at risk of losing, according to analysts.

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