Josh Goodman is a former staff writer for GOVERNING..E-mail: email@example.com
I'm traveling this week, which means you get five days of gubernatorial ratings. Since, as Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds" (adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines), I've completely ignored what I said in previous ratings. But, you can see them all with the race ratings tag.
This time, I'm using six rating categories (toss up, slight lean, leans, likely, very likely, safe). Without further delay, here are the first seven states:
Alabama - Likely Republican: Call me a cynical coastal elitist if you'd like, but Republican frontrunner Bradley Byrne's initial ad campaign struck me as a bit cloying. In this one, I was hoping his daughter would say, "Dad, do we have to talk about abortion at the dinner table, again?" Anyways, Byrne's new ad on the economy is a lot better.
Alaska - Very Likely Republican: Will Sarah Palin return to Alaska to campaign for her replacement, Gov. Sean Parnell? As it stands, Parnell might not need or even want her to do so. Polls show Parnell much more popular than Palin in Alaska these days.
Arizona - Toss up: Jan Brewer finally has won the policy victory she's sought throughout her tenure as governor, as the legislature agreed to place a sales tax hike before the voters. I can see the sales tax increase passing in May and, in the process, I can see Brewer winning the grudging respect of Arizona's voters. What I struggle to see, though, is any way that she can survive a Republican primary.
Arkansas - Safe Democratic - Arkansas Democratic Governor Mike Beebe last month drew a respectable Republican opponent in Jim Keet, a former state senator. But, since Beebe is "as popular as vanilla ice cream on a summer day," in the words of one Arkansas columnist, the big question is whether Keet's candidacy will affect the fates of Democratic congressional candidates in Arkansas, who are about as popular as anchovy ice cream in a snowstorm. You can make the case that Keet will keep Beebe occupied, preventing him from lending a hand to other Democrats. You also can make the case that Keet's candidacy will enliven Beebe's campaign and that he will work to draw loyal Democrats to the polls in bigger numbers.
California -- Slight Lean Democratic: One theory I have is that campaign ads are becoming less effective campaign tools over time. People are so inundated with campaign commercials that I think they zone a lot of them out. And, with lots of new ways to acquire political information (the Internet, cable news), who needs to rely on paid media? California is one place where my theory doesn't look all that great. Meg Whitman's heavy paid media campaign has helped her surge in the Republican primary and (to a lesser extent) in the general election. Plus, "The Steve Shuffle" is pretty hard to ignore.
Colorado - Slight Lean Democratic: I tend to the believe the Public Policy Polling survey that has Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, the presumptive Democratic nominee, ahead, more than the Rasmussen Reports poll that shows him behind to Republican Scott McInnis. The question, though, is whether Hickenlooper can stay in the good graces of the business interests that like him, while avoiding the headaches with organized labor that have bedeviled outgoing Gov. Bill Ritter.
Connecticut - Slight Lean Democratic - Everyone remembers that Ned Lamont capitalized on anti-war sentiment to defeat Joe Lieberman in the Democratic primary for Senate in 2006 (before losing to him in the general election). But, it's easy to forget his biggest asset: his financial assets. He spent $17 million of his own money on that campaign. Republican Tom Foley, though, has plenty of money too.
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