2010 gubernatorial race trackers

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Numerous commentators and pundits watch gubernatorial races and several of them publish regularly updated predictions of where races are expected to fall.

While race trackers don't all use the same system or the same number of variations, it is still possible to gain an overall idea of who is likely to win a race based on looking at various race trackers together.

Over the course of the 2010 election season, most race trackers showed a progressive movement away from Democratic candidates as Republican chances improved.

The Cook Political Report

  • Of the 37 governorships up for election in November, 19 are currently held by Democrats and 18 by Republicans. As of early August, 2010, the Cook Political Report is predicting Republican pick-ups in Michigan, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Kansas, and Wyoming. They are predicting a Democratic pick-up in Hawaii.
  • 7 Democratically held seats and 10 Republican held seats are viewed as 'toss-ups' - competitive races that could go either way. This number, putting half the races as too close to call. Other race trackers have been more opinionated about calling contests for one party or another.
  • With primaries nearly finished, Cook began to move away from its very cautious assessments, moving a single race, Colorado, from toss-up to a likely Democratic win.[1]
  • More recently, Cook has begun to shift races into Republican territory and to

Month Solid D Likely D Lean D Tossup Lean R Likely R Solid R
June 3 0 4 18 4 5 3
July[2] 3 0 4 18 4 5 3
August 10, 2010[3] 3 0 4 18 4 5 3
August 25, 2010[4] 3 1 4 17 4 5 3
September 30, 2010[5] 2 1 1 18 4 5 6
October 20, 2010[6] 2 1 1 17 2 7 7
October 29, 2010[7] 2 1 1 11 8 5 7

The Congressional Quarterly

As of late October, 2010, the Congressional Quarterly Gubernatorial Race Tracker for 2010 identifies 9 campaign contests as either "Safe, Likely or Leans" Democratic, and 15 races as either "Safe, Likely or Leans" Republican.[8] [9], numbers showing a drift to the right over the course of the primary season and the autumn races.

  • The campaign-tracking organization ranks 12 of the 37 contests as "toss-ups" as of October, 2010, a number unchanged since the beginning of the summer, meaning the majority of the primary season has come and gone without the emergence of official nominees having a large effect on where races lean.
  • On January 22, 2010, the organization had ranked 11 races as toss-ups. Through the first half of 2010, CQ rankings have shown a trend for races to move to the center in rankings, with both parties losing 'safe' and 'likely' seats as more races become categorized as 'toss-ups'.
  • By the halfway point of the year, CQ still identified 12 races, or nearly 1/3 of the seats in play, as being toss-ups. The 12 states are currently evenly split between Democratic and Republican governors. By comparison, the Cook Political Report lists 18 seats - nearly half the elections - as being toss-ups at the end on June.
  • Overall, CQ has put more races on the right end of their scale in the past several months. Currently, they are predicting GOP pick-ups in Wyoming and Kansas, as well as favoring the Republican candidate's chances in Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Oklahoma.
  • CQ was forecasting Democratic pick-ups in Connecticut, California, and Hawaii as the summer wound down. It has since cut that number to two, calling Connecticut as a toss-up once again.
  • Compared to the current gubernatorial balance of power, where Democrats occupy 26 seats and Republicans 24, the post-November landscape is predicted to adjust to a slight GOP edge, with Republicans holding 27 of the 50 governorships to the Democrat's 23. There are currently no races in which CQ favors a third party candidate to win.
Month D-Safe D-Likely D-Leans Tossup R-Leans R-Likely R-Safe
January 3 2 8 11 7 3 3
February 3 2 8 10 8 3 3
April 1 4 5 12 8 4 3
June 1 4 5 12 8 4 3
July 1 4 5 12 8 4 3
August 1 4 5 12 8 4 3
September 1 4 5 12 8 4 3
October 1 4 5 12 8 4 3

Larry J. Sabato's Crystal Ball

  • The Virginia based race watcher currently has not a single race listed as a truly safe bet for the Dems. The two races that most other trackers concede are safe for the Democrats, Arkansas and New York, are instead called as "Likely" wins for the Democrats. Sabato also adds Colorado to his "likely" category.
  • With a mere four races, Florida, Maine, Massachusetts, and Vermont, listed as toss-ups, Sabato is easily the most aggressive tracker in calling races decisively. While some other trackers offer a secondary set of predictions called a "no-lean" scorecard, the Crystal Ball is the only one to display such certitude.
  • The 8 races that Sabato calls as "Leans Republican" are states where other trackers have placed the race more clearly into the GOP's column of expected wins: Georgia, Illinois, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas, and Wisconsin. Thus, it may be fair to say that Sabato is not necessarily expecting a series of easy blowouts for the Republicans.
  • Overall, these race predictions shy away from lumping too many races as toss-ups but also avoid calling a race as a near-definite win in all but a few cases. The preference seems to be for expressing a trend in each race without making a solid prediction.
Month Safe Democrat Likely Democrat Leans Democrat Toss-up Leans Independent Leans Republican Likely Republican Safe Republican
October 28, 2010 1 3 7 0 1 6 14 5
October 21, 2010 0 3 7 4 0 8 10 5

Rasmussen Reports

Rasmussen, which began its race ratings in August, was a fairly late entrant into the game. They update races one at a time as polls come in, whereas other race trackers reassess every race together at regular intervals.

Since initial ratings in August, they have made numerous changes, including moving some races back and forth between two categories multiple times.

Overall, Rasmussen is remarkable optimistic about Republican chances and aggressive in calling races that other trackers continue to classify as toss-ups.

Month Solid Democrat Lean Democrat Toss-up Lean Independent Solid Independent Lean Republican Solid Republican
October 30, 2010 3 1 10 1 0 4 19
October 21, 2010 2 4 9 0 0 5 17
August 10, 2010 Initial Ranking 2 3 14 0 0 5 13

The Rothenberg Political Report

Perhaps the most sanguine take on Republican aspirations comes from the Rothenberg Political Report, whose July 11, 2010 assessment puts no fewer than 32 seats in GOP hands come November 3rd and bluntly remarks that even larger gains are "very possible'.[10]

Rothenberg made no changes in their race ratings for most of the summer. However, as of late August, they changed the ratings largely on response to primary outcomes in Colorado and Connecticut. An additional item on the radar is California's battle, where voter unhappiness with incumbents is taking its toll on Jerry Brown's hopes at the same time that challenger Meg Whitman is pouring immense sums into her bid.

  • Of note, Rothenberg had given Independents a chance at picking up a seat in Rhode Island, a race they have since moved to a "Pure Toss-up" after the Democratic field narrowed.
Month Safe D D Favored Lean D Toss-up Leaning D Pure Toss-up Lean I Toss-up Leaning R Lean R R Favored Safe R
October 28, 2010 2 1 3 4 3 1 3 6 2 12
October 22, 2010 2 1 3 3 5 0 4 5 2 12
October 15, 2010 2 1 3 2 4 0 8 2 3 12
October 8, 2010 2 1 4 1 4 0 8 2 3 12
October 1, 2010 2 1 4 1 3 0 9 2 3 12
September 24, 2010 2 1 3 2 3 0 9 2 3 12
September 17, 2010 2 2 2 2 4 0 8 4 5 8
August 27, 2010 2 2 2 2 8 0 2 6 5 8
July 11, 2010 2 1 1 3 8 1 3 5 5 8

All three agree that Arkansas is a safe bet to return the Democratic party to power and the GOP may count Nebraska in its corner. Aside from that, the only agreement across the board is on up-in-the-air races. Cook, CQ, and Rothenberg all call Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Minnesota, and Ohio as too close to call. Florida and Ohio are perennial electoral battle grounds, but Connecticut belongs to the traditionally blue Northeast, signaling that Democratic fortunes may be reeling in the coming months. Colorado, the sight of an astonishing blue takeover in successive elections over the last few cycles, may be set to swing back to purple. Democrats hold both Senate seats, all but two Congressional districts, and both chambers in the state legislature. Incumbent Bill Ritter has declined to run for a second term. Minnesota, all but guaranteed to go Democratic in Presidential elections, splits its Congressional delegation. Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty made it an open race when he demurred on seeking a third term and a bewildering array of third parties have put candidates into the race. Polls consistenly show the race as being neck and neck while neither GOP nor the Democrats come out ahead often enough to predict the race.
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