Governors: GOP Surging in Key States and Democrat Strongholds


Election day is now less than nine days away, and gubernatorial campaigns are making their final pitches to voters in battleground states all over America.

Based on the latest polls, Republican candidates are surging across the country, even in states like Oregon and New York. But it isn’t all bad for Democrats.

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

Here’s where six top gubernatorial races stand with just over one week left until election day.

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

  • Trump-aligned Republican Kari Lake is leading Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, and AZ’s gubernatorial race is much more likely to go red than its Senate contest.
    • Lake leads by at least three points – and by as many as 11 points – in every highly-rated poll released in October thus far.
    • Hobbs has refused to face Lake on the debate stage, and Arizona voters seem to have noticed. Barring unforeseen campaign obstacles, longtime Phoenix newscaster Kari Lake will 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 heading into the final stretch of this one, though Dixon has closed the gap in October substantially.
    • 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 – despite a slate of scandals, unpopular lockdowns, and corruption inside her administration – gives Whitmer a strong base of support. A Morning Consult survey found Whitmer’s approval at 54% in the state.
    • 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.

Pennsylvania – Doug Mastriano (R) versus Josh Shapiro (D)

  • Doug Mastriano trails Democrat Josh Shapiro, and this one has never been close. Shapiro has dominated in the polls for months, and this race shows no signs of changing course.
    • Shapiro leads Mastriano by 10 points in the latest poll, and the GOP never took the momentum in this race as they did in so many others.
    • Bet on Democrats to hold Pennsylvania’s governorship for another four years.

RELATED: PA Gov. Candidate Doug Mastriano Promises Law & Order After Wawa Ransack

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

  • Oregon has rapidly become the Republican success story of the cycle. Former House minority leader Christine Drazan is surging in the polls, and Oregon looks like it could be flipping hands for the first time in decades.
    • Christine Drazan dazzled in the last debate, and the Democrats’ nominee, former Speaker of the State House Tina Kotek, is now attacking current Democrat Governor Kate Brown.
    • 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 a Republican flip just yet.
    • A third-party Democrat candidate, anti-woke Betsy Johnson, is projected to take 10-15% of the vote. Whether or not traditional Democrats back her on election day remains to be seen, and those votes could potentially go either way.
    • Right now, FiveThirtyEight projects a razor-thin margin – just 0.1% – between Drazan and Kotek on election day, but we like Drazan’s chances in the climate.

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

New York – Lee Zeldin (R) versus Kathy Hochul (D)

  • Just months ago, including New York in a list of competitive gubernatorial races would have been unthinkable.
    • Now, the Empire State appears to be a close race as Republican Lee Zeldin hammers the issue of crime – and actually lives it – in Hochul’s New York.
    • Zeldin is inadvertently showing voters how lawless the state is. Zeldin was attacked on stage during a campaign event, and shots were fired outside of his home with his teenage daughter inside.
    • Now, Zeldin must overcome incumbent Kathy Hochul’s inherent advantages in the deep blue stronghold on election day.
    • This has been an exciting run for Lee Zeldin, but we aren’t convinced a Republican can win a statewide race in New York. Not JUST yet.

RELATED: STUNNING POLL Shows ANOTHER Deep Blue State Primed for a GOP Governor?

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 Governor 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 within the margin of error, 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.

Other Notable Race Predictions:

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

Visit our 2022 Midterm Headquarters for more expert analysis on the closest battleground races in the country, and news from the campaign trail.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *