Princeton Election Consortium

A first draft of electoral history. Since 2004

Governors: incumbents still at risk

November 1st, 2014, 8:45am by Sam Wang


This year, an unusually high number of incumbents are threatened, both governors (last elected in the wave of 2010*) and senators (last elected in the wave of 2008). Previously, I identified 14 races where party control will change or the incumbent is at serious risk. In the home stretch, many governors have recovered slightly, but are still at risk. At least two will be turned out of office, in Kansas and Pennsylvania. Here are the poll medians of surveys completed in the last two weeks (or the last three surveys, whichever is more data).


At this point, races fall into the following categories:

Incumbents headed for probable defeat (>3 percentage point margin): Brownback (R-KS), Corbett (R-PA).

Incumbents under threat (<3 percentage points): Parnell (R-AK), Deal (R-GA), Snyder (R-MI), Walker (R-WI), LePage (R-ME), Scott (R-FL), Quinn (D-IL), Malloy (D-CT), Hickenlooper (D-CO).

Open governorships, clear lead (>3 percentage points): Raimondo (D-RI), Baker (R-MA), Hutchinson (R-AR).

The expected net range of outcomes (1 sigma, about 68% of possibilities) is D+0.4 ± 1.3 governorships, which translates to between 1 net gain by Republicans to 2 net gains by Democrats.

*except for Paul LePage of Maine, who was elected in 2008.

Tags: 2014 Election · governors

11 Comments so far ↓

  • Tanya Jackson

    I work in the political process and I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to read your analysis. Taking the pundits out (who all have agendas) and actually having the math. I love it! Thank you!

  • securecare

    “…I think I just peaked. I hope…”

    How about plateaued ?

    I’m sure there is some research on the back burner that you desire to “bring to a boil” so thanks for taking the time to organize all this, the sane perspective is really appreciated. Seriously.

  • Insidious Pall

    Sheesh, Sam. You’re on both at exactly the same time, wouldn’t you know? I recorded the CNN interview but ended up watching it live as well. I switched to Kornacki just in time to hear, “Sam Wang, PEC – thanks for joining us – we’ll be right back.” Great observation that 2014 is less wave and more correction from previous waves. So much gets obscured in spins, twists, and intellectual back flips by chattering class punditry. It’s refreshing to hear straight forward analyses of what should be fairly easily comprehensible numbers.

    • Sam Wang

      That’s hilarious. I think I just peaked. I hope.

      I think CNN was slightly better because of the anti-wave idea, which is so important for understanding the 2014 election.

    • Davey

      The “Up” clip is available on msnbc’s site on the Steve Kornaki page, fyi.

  • Scott

    How do you account for Maine, where the incumbent won in a three-way race two years ago and where the same independent just dropped out?

    It seems that this is a situation where the polls could very easily be wrong.

    • Sam Wang

      Yes, I think there is some chance LePage is done.

    • Froggy

      LePage won in 2010, not 2012. The idea that Mainers might actually reelect this guy is the most baffling thing to me in this election cycle. (I take some heart from the fact that Mainers’ most popular one-word impressions of LePage are “bully,” “idiot,” and “embarrassment,” http://stateandcapitol.bangordailynews.com/2014/10/31/heres-how-mainers-describe-the-3-gubernatorial-candidates-in-one-word/ .)

      In any just world, LePage would be losing by double digits. Hopefully Cutler releasing his supporters and King switching his endorsement to Michaud will seal the deal.

    • Sam Wang

      Oh, good catch on the Maine gubernatorial cycle. Sorry!

    • Sue

      Scott, the independent did NOT drop out. If he had, his name would be taken off the ballot, and the early voters would get the option to vote again, as it would then be a spoiled ballot.

    • Michael J Denis

      Cutler, the independent, has NOT dropped out. He’s only told his supporters to vote for whomever they think can win. Most of his supporters who do that will vote Michaud. LePage is NOT done by a longshot.