Election outlook: Ballotpedia's final predictions for state executive elections

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October 12, 2011

2011 Election Analysis: State Executive Offices

2011's outlook
Lieutenant Governor
Attorney General
Secretary of State
Incumbency analysis
Political party analysis
State executive elections
Projected outcomes

The 2011 general election season has officially begun! Oddly enough, it started before the primary season ended. West Virginia held its special gubernatorial election on October 4, and Louisiana's primary election is scheduled for October 22. Kentucky and Mississippi will hold their elections on November 8; Louisiana will follow suit a little later that month with their general election scheduled for Saturday, November 19. There are a total of 13 state executive seats and 13 down ballot seats on the ballots this cycle.

The Mississippi State Board of Elections has finally made its determination on the eligibility of two groups of candidates who claimed to officially represent the Reform Party - a move that whittled down the list of candidates in the races for governor and lieutenant governor and forced Shawn O'Hara, who had entered the race for both governor and treasurer, to run only for treasurer.

Other highlights from this election season:

The outlook

As election days across the country draw nearer, the likely outcomes of the races become increasingly clear. Back in August, we reported more uncertainty, more races that were up in the air, and more possibility for seats changing between the two major parties. Last month things began to shift, with the elections less than two months away and a growing amount of polling data, finance reports, and candidate debates to help voters make their decisions. Now with most candidates in the home stretch of their campaigns, we bring you our third and final installment of this season's state executive election predictions. This report focuses on the top 13 seats which include Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General and Secretary of State. Each expected outcome is classified in 1 of 7 classifications. Read more about Ballotpedia's methodology here.

Stay tuned for monthly updates here.

Before election: 6

Projected after election: 6

Actual Results: pending


Before election: 7

Projected after election: 7

Actual Results: pending
Safe D Likely D Lean D Tossup Lean R Likely R Safe R
1* 4 1 0 0 2 5
*Democrat Earl Ray Tomblin won West Virginia's special gubernatorial election on October 4, 2011.


Gubernatorial elections, 2011

... And then there were three. The first, and likely closest, gubernatorial race of the season has passed. The West Virginia gubernatorial election was held on October 4, 2011. Democratic incumbent Earl Ray Tomblin bested Republican challenger Bill Maloney by a margin of 3 points. Ballotpedia predicted a Democratic victory in the race. Only three races remain.

Current Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear is running on the Democratic ticket with former Louisville mayor Jerry Abramson. The two face state Senate President David Williams and outgoing Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer, along with Independent candidates Gatewood Galbraith and Dea Riley. Beshear and Abramson continue to hold a commanding 25+ point lead in the polls. With Democrat Earl Ray Tomblin's win earlier this month in West Virginia's gubernatorial election, the party has gained momentum on a national level, and Beshear should have no problem retaining his seat in November. Ballotpedia continues to call this race a "likely Democratic win."

The October 22, 2011 primary ballot for Governor in Louisiana is the most crowded state executive ballot of the season, with ten candidates vying for the state's top post. Despite all of the challengers, no strong candidate has emerged to oppose Republican incumbent Bobby Jindal, whose popularity is expected to carry him through the election for an easy win. Ballotpedia continues to call this race a "safe Republican win."

In Mississippi, current Republican Lieutenant Governor Phil Bryant faces Democratic Hattiesburg mayor Johnny DuPree, who became the state's first black gubernatorial candidate after winning an August 23, 2011 primary runoff election against Bill Luckett, Jr. Bryant has outspent DuPree by a factor of 6 over the course of the race so far, and has four times as much cash on hand for this last month.[1] DuPree remains confident in his ability to connect individually with voters on a more personal level, but the polls continue to give Bryant a clear advantage. Ballotpedia continues to call this race a "safe Republican."

Month Safe D Likely D Lean D Tossup Lean R Likely R Safe R
August - - - 2 - 2 -
September - 2 - - - 2 -
October 1* 1 - - - 2 -
Election results 2 - - - - - 2

*Democrat Earl Ray Tomblin won West Virginia's special gubernatorial election on October 4, 2011.

Lieutenant Governor

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Lieutenant Governor elections, 2011

There are just three races for lieutenant governor this year, and none is expected to be a close race. In Kentucky, the governor and lieutenant governor are elected on a single ticket. Current Lieutenant Governor Daniel Mongiardo ran for and lost the Democratic primary for a seat in the U.S. Senate. Gov. Steve Beshear, a Democrat, is running with former Louisville mayor Jerry E. Abramson. The pair continues to hold a commanding, 25+ point lead in the polls over the Republican team of state Senate President David Williams and outgoing Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer. Ballotpedia continues to call this race a "likely Democratic win."

There are only two candidates in Louisiana's race for lieutenant governor, and both are Republican. Current Lieutenant Governor Jay Dardenne faces Plauqemines Parish President Billy Nungesser in a tight race. We reported in late July about the importance of this race and its implication for Louisiana's 2015 gubernatorial race, and the candidates are not taking the race lightly. Nungesser, who is trying to win favor with Democratic voters, was endorsed by the Tea Party of Louisiana. Dardenne touts himself as a "steady conservative" but he will have to defend his support, as a state senator, of certain tax increases. This last month will prove crucial for the individual outcome of the election, but the partisan outcome is clear. Ballotpedia continues to call this race a "solid Republican."

The hardest part of Tate Reeves' bid for Lieutenant Governor of Mississippi is over. Reeves, the current Republican Treasurer of Mississippi, defeated state Senator Billy Hewes in the Republican primary election, and is now the only major party candidate in Mississippi's race for lieutenant governor. He faces a lone challenger: Reform Party candidate Tracella Lou O'Hara Hill, who has spent $200 on her campaign and reported no additional cash on hand. Reeves is expected to easily win the seat. Ballotpedia continues to call this race a "solid Republican win."

Month Safe D Likely D Lean D Tossup Lean R Likely R Safe R
August - - - 1 - - 2
September - 1 - - - - 2
October - 1 - - - - 2
Election results 1 - - - - - 2

Attorney General

Attorney General elections, 2011

October saw a few major developments in the races for attorney general of Louisiana and Mississippi. In the former, Republican incumbent Buddy Caldwell will cruise to an uncontested general election win after his only opponent, Joseph Cao, withdrew from the race. As a result, the race remains a safe Republican win.

In the latter, Democrat Jim Hood and Republican Steve Simpson met in their first and potentially only debate-style event together, a joint press luncheon on October 3. Both candidates expressed support for a constitutional amendment outlawing abortion by defining "personhood" as beginning at conception. Simpson attempted to link his opponent, the only Democrat remaining in statewide office in Mississippi, to the policies of President Barack Obama. Simpson argued that Hood failed to oppose, and thus de facto supported, Obama's controversial health care reform bill. Hood has refused Simpson's repeated requests for more formal debates, making it unlikely the candidates will have a chance to spar in front of voters before the November 8 general election. Ballotpedia continues to call this race a likely Democratic win given Hood's strength in polls earlier this year.

In Kentucky, Dem incumbent Jack Conway continues to fend off Republican Todd P'Pool, whose inability to improve on his 20-point deficit in the polls is becoming increasingly dangerous as November approaches. P'Pool, following the lead of Mississippi Republicans, has attempted to link Conway to President Obama, but Conway's strong name recognition and his links with popular Democratic Governor Steve Beshear have kept him far ahead. Ballotpedia maintains this race as a likely Democratic win.

Month Safe D Likely D Lean D Tossup Lean R Likely R Safe R
August - 2 - - - 1 -
September - 2 - - - - 1
October - 2 - - - - 1
Election results 2 - - - - - 1

Secretary of State

Secretary of State elections, 2011

There have been few developments in the race for Kentucky Secretary of State this month. Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes and Republican Bill Johnson met in a September 19 debate where they disagreed sharply over photo ID requirements for voter registration and voting rights for felons. With one late August poll putting Johnson as close as 3 points, Ballotpedia will continue to call this race as leaning Democratic.

The race for Louisiana Secretary of State has become a two-man affair, with Republicans Tom Schedler, the incumbent, and state Senate President Jim Tucker battling it out in advance of the October 22 open primary. An October 2 poll found the two candidates in a virtual dead heat, with Tucker garnering 20% of the vote to Schedler's 19%, with 61% still undecided. Though neither candidate has been able to jump out ahead, given that both candidates are staunch Republicans, Ballotpedia is comfortable calling the race a safe Republican win.

Similarly, the Mississippi Secretary of State race remains a safe Republican hold. Republican incumbent Delbert Hosemann will retain his seat this November against Reform Party candidate John Luke Pannell.

Month Safe D Likely D Lean D Tossup Lean R Likely R Safe R
August - 1 - - - 1 1
September - - 1 - - - 2
October - - 1 - - - 2
Election results 1 - - - - - 2

A look at incumbents

The West Virginia special general election has come and gone. Democratic incumbent Earl Ray Tomblin secured his seat as Governor after defeating four challengers. Tomblin's win marks the first incumbent to win a state executive general election this year.

A total of 13 of the 26 current incumbents will face a vote in the general elections (this includes West Virginia's concluded race). Thus far, only one incumbent has fallen in the primary election. Incumbent Kentucky Secretary of State Elaine Walker fell to Alison Lundergan Grimes in the Democratic primary.

Only one primary remains. Louisiana concludes the 2011 primary races on October 22.

Office Total seats Seats up for election Incumbents running (Primary) Incumbents won primary Incumbents lost primary Incumbents running (General) Incumbents won general Incumbents lost general
Governor 50 4 3 2 - 2 1 -
Lt. Governor 45 3 1 - - - - -
Attorney General 50 3 3 2 0 2 - -
Secretary of State 47 3 3 1 1 1 - -
Treasurer 48 3 1 1 - 2[2] - -
Auditor 47 2 - - - 1 - -
Public Services Commissioner -[3] 3[4] 1 1 - 3 - -
Insurance Commissioner 50 2 1[5] -[5] -[5] 1 - -
Agriculture Commissioner 50 3 1[6] - - 1 - -
Total 378 26 (6.88%) 14 7 1 13 1 0

Note: last updated October 12, 2011 - the primary election in Louisiana remains pending. Under Louisiana's blanket primary system, if a candidate receives over 50 percent in the October 22 primary, they are declared the winner. If no one wins a simple majority a runoff will take place on November 19

Political party overview

The chart below remains unchanged from September's report despite a concluded general election in West Virginia. The West Virginia special gubernatorial election was held on October 4, 2011. Democratic incumbent Earl Ray Tomblin defeated Republican Bill Maloney, Mountain Party candidate Bob Henry Baber, Independent candidate Marla Ingels, and American Third Position candidate Harry Bertram. Click here for election results.

The chart below reflects the state executive offices up for election in 2011, nine, and the total United States political party breakdown prior for the November general elections for those offices. However, the Public Services Commissioner office was not included in this chart as totals are not currently available (some states have more than one elected officer).

There are 14+ distinct state executives offices in the United States, not all are reflected here.

Of the eight offices up for election (not including Public Service Commissioners) there are an estimated 387 officers, of which 128 are appointed and nonpartisan. However, of the elected officers, currently 27% are Democrats and 40% are Republicans.

Click "show" to see the full table.

Editor's note: Greg Janetka, David Godowand Bailey Ludlam contributed to this report.

See also

Projected outcomes


  1. Washington Examiner, "Bryant outraises DuPree in Miss. governor campaign," October 10, 2011
  2. No one filed to run against Louisiana incumbent John Neely Kennedy, ensuring his re-election.
  3. A total number of Public Service Commissioners is not currently available. State totals vary, with most having between 3 and 5.
  4. All three seats up for election are in the state of Mississippi.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Incumbent James Donelon will appear in the Louisiana blanket primary against Donald Hodge. In Mississippi, since multiple candidates did not file no primary election was held for the insurance commissioner office. The general election contest will be between incumbent Republican Mike Chaney, Democrat Louis Fondren, and Reform Party candidate Barbara Dale Washer.
  6. Incumbent Michael Strain will appear in the Louisiana blanket primary against Jamie LaBranche and Belinda Alexandrenko. In Mississippi, current incumbent Republican Lester Spell is retiring in 2011. In Kentucky, Republican incumbent Richie Farmer is ineligible for re-election due to term limits.