Louis Jacobson is a GOVERNING contributor.E-mail: email@example.com
The nation’s gubernatorial races have mostly kept to script tonight, with only a few surprises.
The biggest surprise –- though the night is far from over – is the possibility that Republican Tom Foley could defeat Democrat Dan Malloy to maintain the GOP’s longstanding hold on the Connecticut governorship. Malloy had been considered a small favorite until the past few days, when Foley appeared to edge up in the polls.
Another potential surprise is a Republican victory in otherwise liberal Vermont. The Democrats were hoping to flip the GOP-held open seat, but Republican Brian Dubie was slightly leading Democrat Peter Shumlin. But many votes remain to be counted.
The other big surprise is the possible victory of not one, but two Independents: Eliot Cutler in Maine and Lincoln Chafee in Rhode Island. Both are leading, but as of 11:30 p.m., neither race was called.
Several tossup races were as tight as expected. In Florida, Republican Rick Scott was holding a narrow but consistent lead over Democrat Alex Sink. In Ohio, John Kasich was holding a narrow lead over Democratic incumbent Ted Strickland. In Illinois, Democratic incumbent Pat Quinn was locked in a tight race against Republican Bill Brady.
The Democrats did win some races that were considered close going into Election Day, including Massachusetts (where incumbent Deval Patrick prevailed) and New Hampshire (where incumbent John Lynch won). Democrats also were holding a healthy lead in Minnesota, where Mark Dayton was poised to seize a GOP-held seat.
The key to the Democrats avoiding massive losses was their ability to flip Republican seats, in order to offset expected losses elsewhere. The Democrats did appear to succeed in that task in California and possibly Minnesota, but the plan is running into trouble in Connecticut, Vermont, Rhode Island and Florida.
This suggests that Republican gains could end up on the higher end of the scale than predicted, perhaps a net change of 10 seats.
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