Updated: 2010 State Attorneys General: GOP Moves A Notch Closer

With this analysis, most of the races stay as is, but two contests shift a notch toward the Republican candidate and one moves from lean Republican to tossup.
by | November 1, 2010
 

Updated November 1 to reflect changes in the California race. Check out the updated attorney general race ratings here.

The battle to control state attorney general offices is continuing to shift in the Republican direction, but the movement since Governing's last rating in October has been modest.

This represents our third effort this year to handicap the 30 states that have attorney general elections this fall. With this analysis, most of the races stay as is, but two contests shift one notch toward the Republican candidate.

Currently, the Democrats hold a 32-to-18 edge in AG offices. Of these 50 positions, 43 are popularly elected, with the remaining seven appointed by a governor, the Legislature or the state Supreme Court.

Of the 43 elected seats, the Democrats currently control 27 to the Republicans' 16. And of those 43, a total of 30 are being contested this fall, of which the Democrats currently hold 19.

The broad picture doesn't change much from our last analysis. Based on interviews with dozens of partisan and nonpartisan sources, the Democrats are poised to lose between six and 13 attorney general posts on Election Day. If they suffer a net loss of just six seats, the Democrats would hold on to their now-solid majority, though by just a single seat. But if the Democrats were to lose a net 13 seats, they'd see the GOP take the lead by roughly the same 3-to-2 margin they currently enjoy.

The two states moving toward the GOP in this analysis are Kansas, which shifts from tossup to lean Republican, and New York, which shifts from lean Democratic to tossup.

All told, 12 of 19 Democratic-held attorney general positions that are popularly elected are "in play" this year -- that is, either classified as a tossup, lean Democratic or lean Republican. An additional Democratic-held seat, in Oklahoma, is already all but lost to the GOP. Just six Democratic-held elected seats are almost certain to remain in the party's control after Election Day.

In addition to Oklahoma, Democrats are on the defensive in several states where Republicans are riding high this year. They include Arizona, the home of a controversial bill to crack down on illegal immigration signed by GOP Gov. Jan Brewer, and the strongly Republican state of Georgia.

In addition to New York, Democratic-held tossup states include Iowa, where a longtime incumbent is facing the fight of his political life against an upstart conservative, and Ohio, where the Democratic incumbent may have trouble with voters feeling fatigued with the current Democratic administration; and now California, where polls showing that the race between the San Francisco and Los Angeles district attorneys narrowing.

By contrast, only one GOP-held elected attorney general position is currently in play -- Florida's. The other 10 GOP-held seats do not appear to be at serious risk for now.

For thumbnail sketches of the 30 attorney general seats up for grabs this fall, visit www.governing.com/blogs/politics/attorneys-general-race.html.

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