Statewide elections, 2010
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- See also: Gubernatorial elections, 2010
37 gubernatorial elections were scheduled for November 2, 2010. Of the 37 seats up for election, Democrats defended 19 versus 18 held by a Republican going into the election. In the wake of the polls, the balance of power stands at 29 Republican seats, 19 Democratic seats, 1 Independent seat, and 1 undecided election.
Ballotpedia has prepared a list of the winners along with key statistics about winning margins and voter turnout.
36 governorships were already up for election due to election cycles. When Utah's incumbent governor left to accept an ambassadorial position, his state called a special election, bringing to the total number of contests to 37, the most states that have ever elected a governor at once in U.S. history.
Combined with the fact that the partisan balance of power in the nation's legislatures and gubernatorial offices had tremendous influence on the redrawing of Congressional districts in 2011, the power at stake in 2010 brought unprecedented attention to the gubernatorial elections.
2010 also became America's most expensive gubernatorial cycle ever, with previous records for entire campaigns being smashed before primaries were even over and California's Meg Whitman setting new records for individual expenditures in a campaign.
Key race-trackers expected Republicans to pick up several seats, with final calls pegging the GOP to pick up anywhere from 5 to 12 seats. In the end, Republicans won 11 seats and Democrats flipped six. Additionally, Rhode Island elected an Independent.
In 15 of the seats up for election, the incumbent could not run again because of term limits, leaving 22 seats guaranteed to be open to non-incumbents. Of the incumbent but limited-out governors, 8 were Democratic and 7, Republican. When incumbents did choose to run, the primaries were good to them. Only in Nevada did an incumbent seeing re-election lose his own party's primary. (One of the term-limited governors, Dave Freudenthal in Wyoming, at one point indicated he planned to challenge his state's term limits law; while he did win his legal battle to have the state's term limits invalidated, he eventually declined to run for a third term.)
- Democratic governors who were limited-out included:
John Baldacci (Maine)
Jennifer Granholm (Michigan)
Bill Richardson (New Mexico)
Brad Henry (Oklahoma)
Ted Kulongoski (Oregon)
Ed Rendell (Pennsylvania)
Phil Bredesen (Tennessee)
Dave Freudenthal (Wyoming)
In those races, Dems held onto Oregon with the Republicans picked up the other seven.
- Republican governors who were limited-out included:
Some incumbent governors who weren't limited-out still chose not to try for re-election.
- Democratic governors voluntarily chose not to run for re-election were Bill Ritter (Colorado), Mark Parkinson (Kansas), and Jim Doyle (Wisconsin). Colorado remained blue while the GOP took the other two.
- Republican governors who could have run again, but did not, were Jodi Rell (Connecticut), Charlie Crist (Florida), Tim Pawlenty (Minnesota) and Jim Douglas (Vermont). Democrats made three pick-ups here, in Connecticut, Vermont, and Minnesota while Florida remained in GOP hands.
Lt. Governor campaigns
- See also: Lieutenant Governor elections, 2010
Lieutenant Gubernatorial campaigns, which are often tied to the candidate for governor in the general election, hewed to the same party line as the top line races with the exception of Arkansas, where Republican Mark Darr won along with Democrat Mike Beebe, and Rhode Island, where Democrat Elizabeth H. Roberts will serve along side Independent Lincoln Chafee, making for a split ticket in those states.
Incumbents were re-elected in Georgia, Idaho, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nebraska, Nevada, Texas, and Utah, a set that includes six Republican and two Democratic seats, with Maryland and Massachusetts in the minority.
Going into the elections, Republicans controlled 25 lieutenant governorships compared to 18 for Democrats. Additionally, two seats, in Illinois and West Virginia, were vacant. Another five states do not have the office of the lieutenant governor. In those five states, Democrats held the office first to succeed the governor in three cases.
Republicans triumped in 21 lieutenant gubernatorial elections with only 9 going for the Democrats. Minnesota is still in recount, so the final numbers will change. While the GOP flipped a total of 9 seats, Democrats only took Republican held offices in California, Connecticut, and Hawaii.
Assuming that Minnesota's race ultimately goes to the Democrats, as recount results to date indicate, the balance of power for the two parties in lieutenant governorships of first-succession offices in states that lack the office will will 35-15 in favor of Republicans.
Secretary of State
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- See also: Secretary of State elections, 2010
In four of the of the seats that were up for election, the incumbent could not run again because of term limits. Of the incumbent but limited-out secretaries of state, 1 was Democratic and 3 were Republican.
- The Democratic Secretary of State who was limited-out was Charlie Daniels (Arkansas)
- The Republican Secretaries of State Todd Rokita (Indiana), Terri Lynn Land (Michigan), and Chris Nelson (South Dakota) were term limited-out
Several incumbent secretaries of state chose not to run for re-election, in most cases because they ran for a different office. In mid-November 2009, it was estimated that 5 incumbent secretaries of state who could run again (three Democrats and two Republicans) voluntarily choose not to seek re-election. Three months later, however, only the three Democrats remained on the list as both of the Republicans (Karen Handel of Georgia and Ron Thornburgh of Kansas) resigned from office resulting in the governor from each of the respective states having to appoint a replacement; both appointees in these instances were already candidates seeking the statewide office in November.
- Democratic Secretaries of State who voluntarily choose not to run for re-election were Susan Bysiewicz (Connecticut), Jennifer Brunner (Ohio) and Deborah L. Markowitz (Vermont). Bysiewicz, who over the course of two years switched campaigns from the gubernatorial race to the state attorney general contest, had decided to seek neither higher office nor re-election to her current position, Markowtiz is seeking to become governor and Brunner was in the hunt for her party's nomination for United States Senate, though she ultimately lost to the Lieutenant Governor Lee Fisher.
After all the votes had been tabulated, there was a rather dramatic shift in the balance of partisan control over the secretary of state offices. Of the 26 statewide position that were on the ballot, 17 had been won by Republicans while only 9 were garnered by the Democrats. Even more significant, however, was the fact that 6 of those offices won by Republicans had previously been held by Democrats; these statewide positions included Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, New Mexico, and Ohio. Overall, the once slightly comfortable majority Democrats had held among Secretary of State offices evaporated overnight.
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In three of the seats that were up for election, the incumbent could not run again because of term limits. Of the three incumbent but limited-out attorneys general, two were Democrats and one was Republican:
- The Democratic Attorneys General of Arizona (Terry Goddard) and Rhode Island (Patrick Lynch) were term-limited out.
- The Republican Attorney General of Michigan who was limited-out was Mike Cox.
Several incumbent attorneys general chose not to run for re-election, in most cases because they ran for a different office. As of mid-April 2010, it is known that seven incumbent attorneys general who could run again (five are Democrats and two are Republicans) are voluntarily choosing not to seek re-election.
- Democratic attorneys general who are voluntarily choosing not to run for re-election are Jerry Brown (California), Richard Blumenthal (Connecticut), Thurbert E. Baker (Georgia), and Drew Edmondson (Oklahoma). Of these five, Goddard, Brown, Baker, and Edmondson have sought each of their respective state's governorships; both Baker and Edmondson failed to receive their party's nomination in the primary while Brown and Goddard have successfully moved on to the general election in November. Blumenthal, on the other hand, was in the hunt for the United States Senate seat held by outgoing Democratic Senator Chris Dodd; he ultimately succeeded in November.
- Republican attorneys general who could run again, but have said they will not, are Bill McCollum (Florida) and Henry McMaster (South Carolina), both of whom had sought each of their respective state's governorships. McMaster ultimately lost the party nomination to State Representative Nikki Haley.
After all the votes had been tabulated, there was a significant shift in the balance of partisan control over the state attorney general offices. Of the 30 statewide positions on the ballot, 14 had been won by Democrats while Republicans seized control in 16 of those races. More significant, however, was the fact that 5 of these offices won by Republicans had previously been held by Democrats; these statewide positions included Arizona, Georgia, Kansas, Ohio, and Oklahoma. Altogether, while Democrats were able to maintain a slim majority control of the state attorney general offices, thanks largely to wins in both California and Iowa, the balance of power among the two major political parties, however, is now close to about split straight down the middle.
88 state legislative chamber elections are scheduled for November 2, 2010. Of the 88 chambers up for election, 52 are currently held by Democrats and 33 by Republicans. There are also 2 chambers that are equally split and one (Nebraska) which is officially non-partisan.
1,167 (59.2%) of the country's 1,971 state senate seats are up for re-election in November, and 4,958 (90.7%) of the country's 5,462 state house seats are up for re-election. Altogether, 6,125 of the country's 7,384 (82.9%) state legislative seats are up for re-election in this volatile election year.
The 11 chambers without elections in 2010 (except for an occasional special election), are the upper houses and lower houses in Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey and Virginia, and the upper house (state senate) in Kansas, New Mexico and South Carolina.
In the 43 state senate elections this fall, 14 states are impacted by term limits. There are 122 state senators who are ineligible to run in November because of term limits. Of the 122 ineligible incumbents, 55 are Democrats and 66 are Republicans (and 1 nonpartisan senator).
- See also: 2010 ballot measures
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Specifically, for the November 2, 2010 general election ballot 160 ballot questions were certified in 37 states. The 184 measures on the 2010 ballot amounted to about 80% of the average of 220 ballot questions that have been on statewide ballots in the even-numbered years from 1990-2008.
5 political topics dominated the 2010 ballot, and 3 of the 5 most popular topics each related to fiscal policy. The "Big 5" topics on the 2010 ballot were taxes, administration of government, elections and campaigns, bond issues and state budgets. The number of 2010 ballot measures relating to fiscal topics were an increase of about 13% over the number of similar measures on the 2008 ballot.
The 2010 ballot included fewer social issues (such as abortion, marriage, immigration, gambling) than had been the case in most recent years, although one of the most widely-remarked measures on the ballot, California's Proposition 19, is a classic in the genre.
- Cook Political Report, "2010 Governor's Race Ratings", August 12, 2010
- CQ Politics, "Race Rating Chart: Governor", accessed August 12, 2010
- Rothenberg Political Report, "Governor's Ratings", accessed August 12, 2010
- Approaching the November 2 general elections, only two post-certification lawsuits remained pending - (SQ 746 and SQ 751). In some states pending court rulings do not necessarily remove measures from the ballot but instead prevent cast votes from being counted.
- The District of Columbia also had a ballot measure on its November 2 ballot - Washington, D.C. Attorney General Selection (2010). On Ballotpedia, the DC ballot measure is grouped in with local, city-wide ballot measures from cities such as Los Angeles, Houston or Detroit.