Josh Goodman is a former staff writer for GOVERNING..E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Are Washington and North Carolina the only truly competitive governors' races in the country? More and more, that's what I'm starting to think. The good news, if you like competitive elections, is that North Carolina and Washington are really, really close.
With that in mind, I'm changing my gubernatorial ratings in three states.
Washington: From Leans Democrat to Toss Up.
To be honest, I never really thought Republican Dino Rossi had much of chance of winning this one until a month or so ago. Gov. Christine Gregoire was never going to win in landslide, but she appeared to slowly have built support over the course of her tenure. The trend lines favored her.
A couple of things have changed since then. For one, Rossi proved that he would be the better-funded candidate. Even more importantly, it's become much clearer that the national economy -- and Washington's economy along with it -- are struggling.
All of which raises a question that I remember pondering over in the 2006 election cycle: Is the nation's mood anti-incumbent or anti-Republican? Washington isn't offering a clear answer right now. The polls are essentially tied.
Delaware: From Likely Democrat to Safe Democrat.
We've now had four general election polls and they all give Democrat Jack Markell at least 60% of the vote. That's a safe lead by any definition.
Missouri: From Leans Democrat to Likely Democrat.
I'd file this chart (below) of polling in the Missouri governor's race in the "a picture is worth a thousand words" category. Note that brief period where the numbers for Democrat Jay Nixon (the blue line) and Republican Kenny Hulshof (the red line) started to bend toward one another. That's when I started throwing around the favorite word of every political journalist: "tightening."
Well, now the polls are loosening again. Nixon has led by double digits in the three recent surveys and he's over 50% in all them. Hulshof needs something dramatic to happen -- although I refuse to use the term "game changer."
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