Governors: GOP Poised to FLIP Toss-Up States, Democrats Holding on in Strongholds


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With just days until the election, Republicans hold leads in key toss-up states, including Oregon, Nevada, and Wisconsin. On top of that, no incumbent Republican governor is in much danger.

However, Democrats are still strongly positioned to hold onto key executive seats in Michigan, Kansas, and Pennsylvania, all thought to be pick-up opportunities for the GOP.

Here’s where the six closest gubernatorial races in America stand just four days out from the election.

Arizona – Kari Lake (R) versus Katie Hobbs (D)

  • Not much has changed in Arizona’s gubernatorial race in recent weeks. Trump-aligned Republican Kari Lake is leading Secretary of State Katie Hobbs by three points in the latest poll, and she leads by an average of two points in the past four polls taken.
  • While Lake’s dominance in the polling seems to have slowed down, she hasn’t trailed since early October.
    • Hobbs’ refusal to face Lake on the debate stage speaks for itself, and barring last-second surprises, longtime Phoenix newscaster Kari Lake should be Arizona’s next governor in 2023.

RELATED: New Poll Gives HUGE Lead to MAGA Superstar Kari Lake

Michigan – Tudor Dixon (R) versus Gretchen Whitmer (D)

  • Democrat incumbent Gretchen Whitmer leads Republican Tudor Dixon with just 5 days to go, but Dixon closed the gap at the end of October substantially and continues to rise in recent surveys.
  • Strong debate performances from Dixon could provide a solid boost on election day, but as the race stands, Whitmer has some major advantages.
    • Her high approval rating of 54% – despite a slate of scandals, unpopular lockdowns, and corruption inside her administration – gives Whitmer a strong base of support. 
    • Whitmer also has a massive cash advantage in this race. Seen as one of the most electable nationwide presidential candidates in the party, the Democrats aren’t letting Whitmer go down without an expensive fight.
    • In September, Whitmer had 28 times more cash on hand than Dixon.
  • Given the clear advantages in play for Gretchen Whitmer, flipping Michigan’s governorship might have to wait for the GOP.
    • However, considering new polling that shows this race tightening ahead of election day, we’re updating our race rating from STRONG Democrat hold to LIKELY Democrat hold.

Oregon – Christine Drazan (R) versus Tina Kotek (D)

  • Oregon – the surprise of the cycle so far for Republicans – is one of three toss-up races that could go either way.
  • Christine Drazan has dazzled in debates, and the Democrats’ nominee, former Speaker of the State House Tina Kotek, is attacking current Democrat Governor Kate Brown’s policies in advertisements.
  • Top-rated polls have shown Drazan leading Kotek since mid-October, and Drazan holds leads in the most recent data available too.
    • Oregon billionaire and Nike founder Phil Knight has poured millions into Drazan’s campaign over the past two months.
    • All arrows are pointing up for the GOP in this race, but this is much too close to call.
  • The outcome in Oregon could come down to the third-party vote of Betsy Johnson, who is projected to win 10-15% of the state’s overall electorate.
    • Johnson served in Oregon’s State Senate from 2005 until 2021, when she announced her candidacy for governor. She is known as a conservative Democrat in the state, and she previously had the support of Phil Knight before Drazan.
    • If Johnson’s coalition of moderate and Democrat voters stick with her on election day or opt for Drazan like Nike’s Knight, Kotek is at a disadvantage. However, there is still the chance that Johnson’s coalition shifts back to the Democrats and supports Kotek in the final days.
    • Right now, FiveThirtyEight projects a razor-thin margin – just 0.3% – between Drazan and Kotek on election day, and we like Drazan’s chances in the pro-GOP climate.

RELATED: Oregon Governor’s Race Quietly Turned to TOSS-UP by Top Forecaster

Nevada – Joe Lombardo (R) versus Steve Sisolak (D)

  • Like Oregon, Nevada’s gubernatorial race is another key toss-up race, but in the final days, Republican Joe Lombardo appears to have taken a moderately-strong lead.
    • Trafalgar Group’s latest poll finds Lombardo leading by seven in Nevada, and the Senate race is moving similarly to the right in the state.
    • Republicans have serious momentum in Nevada, and Lombardo has started to run away with this one. Still, the popular vote will be very close, and the GOP can’t afford complacency.
    • That said, polling for Lombardo looks consistently positive, whether the pollster leans left or right. We’re updating our race rating from TOSS-UP: advantage GOP to LIKELY Republican flip.

Kansas – Derek Schmidt (R) versus Laura Kelly (D)

  • In Kansas, a red state that hasn’t elected a Democrat Senator since the 1930s, you wouldn’t think a Democrat could win re-election, let alone win the office in the first place. But Kansans historically elect state leaders from both parties, and right now, incumbent Democrat Laura Kelly has their support. 
  • While abortion simply hasn’t given Democrats the game-changing edge they were hoping for, it has certainly driven political participation among the left wing in Kansas.
    • Kansans overwhelmingly voted to entrench abortion into law over the summer, and ever since that referendum, Kelly’s supremacy hasn’t been questioned in this race.
  • However, challenger Derek Schmidt is still polling close behind Kelly (trails by five points in the latest poll), and the pro-abortion momentum has cooled nationwide.
    • This race will be close, but considering Kelly is a popular governor, and partisan leanings don’t affect gubernatorial races in Kansas as much as they do in other states, we believe she has the edge required to win re-election.
    • Schmidt’s campaign has flown under the radar all cycle, despite an endorsement from Trump, and Kansas is one rare state where abortion does seem to be affecting voters.
    • All that said, we’re moving our race rating from LEAN Democrat hold to LIKELY Democrat hold.

Wisconsin – Tim Michels (R) versus Tony Evers (D)

  • Rounding out the three closest toss-up races in America is Wisconsin. Businessman Tim Michels launched a campaign to de-seat incumbent Democrat Governor Tony Evers, and this race has been neck-and-neck since October.
  • Recent polls show a dead heat contest in Wisconsin, with no highly-rated poll showing either candidate with a lead larger than two points. Here are the past five polls (and their ratings):
    • EVEN (A/B)
    • Evers +2 (A)
    • Michels +1 (A)
    • EVEN (A/B)
    • Michels +2 (A-)
  • Polling can’t tell us everything about a race, but these polls paint a clear picture of a neck-and-neck contest. This race is far too close to call for either side, but we’re giving Michels a slight advantage thanks to national GOP momentum and Biden’s unpopularity.
    • We’re moving our race rating from TOSS-UP: advantage Democrat to TOSS-UP: advantage Republican.

Other Notable Race Predictions:

  • Florida: SOLID GOP HOLD
  • Georgia: SOLID GOP HOLD
  • Oklahoma: SOLID GOP HOLD
  • Alaska: SOLID GOP HOLD

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One Response

  1. As I’ve been saying since the 2020 election, keep all Democrat election officials under the microscope. No matter how sure a lead the GOP candidate has, it is no match for the wee early hours baskets of ballots that Democrats are known to produce.

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