The Cook Political Repork thinks so less than six months out from election day 2018….
As the political universe fixates on the battles for control of Congress, little attention is being paid to the 36 gubernatorial contests on the ballot in November. But, the stakes for control of governorships are high given that most of the Governors elected this year will be in office during redistricting in 2021. And, races are starting to become engaged and more interesting.
Republicans currently hold 33 governorships to 16 for Democrats and one independent, Gov. Bill Walker of Alaska. Of the 36 races up in November, Republicans hold 26 to just nine for Democrats; Walker is up for re-election as well. There are 16 open seats, 12 of which are currently held by Republicans.
Governors’ races are not immune to mid-term election trends. Just as the party in power loses seats in the U.S. House and Senate, it also loses gubernatorial seats. In the 29 mid-term elections that have taken place since 1902, the party in power has lost seats in 26 of them, or 90 percent of the time. The average loss is 4.5 seats. The biggest losses in the last 50 years came in 1970 when Republicans under President Richard Nixon lost 11 seats. In 1994 as Democrats were losing their majorities in the U.S. House and Senate, they also lost 11 gubernatorial seats. The most recent exceptions to mid-term losses are 1986 when Republicans gained eight governorships under President Reagan (this is the same year that the GOP suffered a net loss of eight U.S. Senate seats), and 1998 when Democrats under President Clinton didn’t lose any seats.
Given the near historic number of seats Republicans hold and mid-term trends, it would seem that they have nowhere to go but down. They are playing defense this cycle, while Democrats are working to put as many GOP-held seats on the board as possible….
With so many primaries yet to be decided, it’s a little early to predict a range of gains or losses for each party. It is fair to say that Republicans will lose seats. Given the political environment, Democrats are likely to be disappointed if they only pick up four or five seats. If they pick up seven or eight, it would be fair to call that a landslide….