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Congressional Quarterly (Governing's sister publication) has shifted its rating in the Washington gubernatorial race from "toss up" to "leans Democrat," a move that reflects the strength of Gov. Christine Gregoire:
Gov. Christine Gregoire and 8th District candidate Darcy Burner came within a razor-thin edge of their opponents in their last contests. But analysts now say that the Democrats have upped their chancing of winning as the state GOP party faces structural problems and GOP efforts to appeal to the state's large number of moderate voters has been hampered by their strong conservative base.
While University of Washington political scientist Matt Barreto, co-director of the Washington Poll, told CQ Politics he does not agree that the GOP party is at a structural disadvantage, he suggests that there are scenarios in which it would be "exceptionally difficult" for Gregoire to lose, namely if Barack Obama is the party's presidential nominee. Obama has helped increase turnout among Democrats in this year's primary contests.
Political scientist Olson believes Gregoire is favored to win, noting as evidence the money raised by the two candidates, the "shape" of the two parties, and Gregoire's high profile on issues of importance to Republican voters including sexual predators, housing, and a rainy day fund. In addition, she is leading a state that is experiencing economic prosperity, a boon for the sitting lawmaker.
Gregoire reported $4.7 million raised through Feb. 29 and Rossi reported $2.9 million raised through the same period.
In this year's four most competitive gubernatorial races, CQ now ranks Washington and North Carolina as leaning Democratic, Indiana as leaning Republican and Missouri as "no clear favorite." I don't disagree with any of those ratings, although, if I had to push Missouri one way, I'd say it leans toward Democrat Jay Nixon ever so slightly.
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