A Very Early Look At The 2022 Governor Races

The 2022 midterm elections will not only decide who controls the US Senate and the US House of Representatives, but also which party governs 36 of the country’s 50 states. These competitions will be play a significant role in setting the guidelines that states will adopt during also serve how a launchpad for potential national political stars who might find their way into federal office, like the Senate – or even the presidency.

In the past interim times, a considerable number of governorates I also often changed hands at the party great political consequences. However, at this early stage it is not clear whether there will be a lot of sales in 2022. On the one hand, the party in the White House usually loses seatsand some Republican-minded voters can be more motivated to vote as Democrats because they are frustrated with Democrats and President Biden. On the other hand, 29 of the 36 governors standing for election can run again. This could limit the number of seats Democrats lose, as incumbents usually have one better chance of holding onto one party’s seat. In addition, few Democrats rule Republican states.

However, history shows that Republicans are well positioned to at least gain some ground. In 16 of the 19 mid-term elections after World War II, the President’s party lost governance.

That’s not to say that the split times are always a carnage for the White House party. On average, the President’s party has lost about four seats per half over the past 75 years. The results, however, varied widely, ranging from a loss of 11 seats in 1970 to one gain from eight seats in 1986.

Significantly, one presidential party avoided losing ground (or having lost little) when the incumbent president had strong approval ratings. In the three cases in which the party did not lose seats in the White House, all three presidents – John F. Kennedy in 1962, Ronald Reagan in 1986, and Bill Clinton in 1998 – had approval ratings north of 60 percent. And the two times the President’s Party lost just one seat in 1990 and 2002, the incumbent’s approval rating was still quite high (George HW Bush’s approval rating was in the mid-1950s in 1990 and George W. Bush’s approval rating was in the low 60s in 2002). Where Biden’s public standing next November is will be crucial for the upcoming midterm elections.

But even if Biden’s approval rating stays in the lower to mid-50s, Democrats will have a hard time making a profit, as the President’s party did added Governments only once in the intervening period after World War II: 1986. It’s hard to imagine Democrats repeating themselves Republican success that year when they were given eight governorates in the middle of Reagan’s second term. This noticeable outlier was not only the result of Reagan’s sterling approval rating, but also because some Democratic governors had left office even in republican states, which made it easier for republicans to pick them up.

This typical medium-term pattern is a bad sign for Democrats, but since most Democratic governors will seek re-election in 2022, this could help lessen the blow. Although the electoral surge through the term of office is no longer what it used to be, it remains a factor and could help Democrats hold onto governorates in tightly divided swing states and avoid losses in bluer states.

A total of 29 of the 36 incumbent governors will be able to apply for re-election in 2022, including 16 Republicans who can also benefit from an increase in the term of office.

Many governors will be re-elected in 2022

Incumbent, Party, Term Limit Status, Race Rating, and Presidential Margin in 2020 in the 36 states with gubernatorial elections in 2022

Status Official party Eligible to run Race ranking * 2020 presidential margin
VT Phil Scott R. Probably / definitely R. D + 35.4
MA Charlie Baker R. Probably / definitely R. D + 33.5
MD Larry Hogan R. Toss-up / Lean D. D + 33.2
HELLO David Ige D. Solid D. D + 29.5
Approx. Gavin Newsom D. Probably / firmly D. D + 29.1
NY Andrew Cuomo D. Probably / firmly D. D + 23.1
RI Daniel McKee † D. Probably / firmly D. D + 20.8
CT Ned Lamont D. Probably / firmly D. D + 20.0
IL J. B. Pritzker D. Probably / firmly D. D + 16.9
OR Kate Brown D. Probably D. D + 16.1
CO Jared Polis D. Probably / firmly D. D + 13.5
NM Michelle Lujan Grisham D. Probably / firmly D. D + 10.8
ME Janet Mills D. Slim / probably D. D + 9.1
NH Chris Sununu R. Probably R. D + 7.4
MN Tim Walz D. Probably D. D + 7.1
MI Gretchen Whitmer D. Lean D. D + 2.8
NV Steve Sisolak D. Slim / probably D. D + 2.4
PA Tom Wolf D. Toss-up D + 1.2
WI Tony Evers D. Toss-up / Lean D. D + 0.6
AZ Doug Ducey R. Toss-up D + 0.3
GA Brian Kemp R. Toss-up / Lean R. D + 0.2
FL Ron DeSantis R. Lean / probably R. R + 3.4
TX Greg Abbott R. Probably R. R + 5.6
OH Mike DeWine R. Probably R. R + 8.0
IA Kim Reynolds R. Probably R. R + 8.2
AK Mike Dunleavy R. Probably / definitely R. R + 10.1
SC Henry McMaster R. Fixed R. R + 11.7
KS Laura Kelly D. Toss-up / Lean D. R + 14.6
NE Pete Ricketts R. Fixed R. R + 19.1
TN Bill Lee R. Fixed R. R + 23.2
AL Kay Ivey R. Fixed R. R + 25.5
SD Kristi Noem R. Fixed R. R + 26.2
AR Asa Hutchinson R. Fixed R. R + 27.6
I WOULD Brad Little R. Fixed R. R + 30.7
OK Kevin Stitt R. Fixed R. R + 33.1
WY Mark Gordon R. Fixed R. R + 43.4

* Based on race ratings from Sabatos Crystal Ball and The Cook Political Report.

† McKee became Governor of Rhode Island on March 2 after Gina Raimondo (D) was appointed to President Biden’s Cabinet.

Sources: Dave Leips US Presidential Election Atlas, Sabatos Crystal Ball, The Cook Political Report

Ultimately, the result of having so many incumbents running tends to reduce the likelihood of seats changing hands. And this may be especially true in 2022 as neither side has much overly friendly turf to reclaim. Only seven seats are in states where the ruling party lost state in the 2020 presidential election. In fact, this is one area on the 2022 map where Democrats have an advantage as they only have one seat to defend in a state that Biden lost in 2020: Kansas. This, of course, makes Governor Laura Kelly the most vulnerable incumbent governor in 2022, and as such she is already dressed Top GOP opponents in Attorney General Derek Schmidt and probably former Governor Jeff Colyer, to.

Beyond Kansas, however, the map becomes easier for Democrats. You must defend four swing states that Biden won by less than 3 percentage points: Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. But only in Pennsylvania is the incumbent not eligible to run again. Additionally, the other two temporary Democratic governors are from very or fairly democratic areas – Hawaii and Oregon. (This goes for the most likely Democratic candidate to retire – or step down, as well: contested New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.) Taken together, the 2022 map and the party’s catalog of offices should make it manageable for Democrats, most of them To maintain governorates. unless the environment gets particularly bad – not inconceivable given the losses they suffered in 1994 and 2010.

On the other hand, the GOP has to defend three governorates in deep blue terrain. And one of those seats may be particularly difficult to keep: Maryland, where popular GOP governor Larry Hogan is on a temporary basis. The other two Republican governors of the blue state, Charlie Baker of Massachusetts and Phil Scott of Vermont, are not fixed-term and have relatively high approval ratings. They have also weathered the re-election challenges before. So if they run again, along with Chris Sununu of New Hampshire, they’ll give the GOP a better chance of holding onto this democratic turf as the governor elections aren’t like that nationalized or polarized than congressional and presidential elections. However, Sununu can run for the US Senatewhat could make New Hampshire more hospitable to Democrats. Republicans will also have to defend seats in swing states like Arizona, Florida, and Georgia, but similar to the Democratic battlefield situation, only one of those states, Arizona, will be an open seat race.

The long and short environment of 2022 will depend on whether the medium-term penalty outweighs the benefit of tenure and the small number of competitions in unfavorable territory. Nevertheless, these opposing forces could jointly limit how many governorates change hands in the medium term in 2022.

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