3. Arkansas Tossup
Democratic AG Dustin McDaniel has already started campaigning here, and looked likely to dominate the D primary and be a formidable candidate for Dems... that was, until yesterday, when he acknowledged an extramarital affair. Now it looks like Democrats will be left with a weak nominee, either a wounded McDaniel, ex-LG Bill Halter, or Beebee admin offical John Burkhalter. Any have a tough time holding this one for Democrats; several strong Republicans, imost notably LG Mark Darr and former Rep. and 2006 nominee Asa Hutchinson, are thinking about running. Each will have the wind at his back in red (and getting redder) Arkansas.
4. Florida Tossup
Rick Scott has to be one of the most improbable governors of all time, and his lack of likeability seems to be doing him no favors. While he doesn't look DOA in a primary (as he did for much of his first two years) he will still face a very hard time winning a second term. Democrats' Great Orange Hope in this race is Charlie Crist, who is a liberal at the moment. Crist will likely face primary competition from ex-State CFO Alex Sink and State Sen. Nan Rich, but a recent poll shows him in strong position with Democrats. Scott may face a primary challenge of his own, from CFO Jeff Atwater or Ag Commissioner Adam Putnam - if one of them wins, it would boost Republicans' chances of holding onto the seat. Otherwise this looks like a great pickup opportunity for Team
5. Illinois Tossup
Even though Pat Quinn is about as popular as the guy who preceeded him, he still swears he's running for another term. But it's an open question if he can even make it through a primary; ex-WH CoS Bill Daley is considering a bid, and Speaker Mike Madigan's moves suggest that he may be considering retirement so that his daughter, AG Lisa, can run. Any Republican would start out as a favorite over Quinn, a tossup to slight favorite over Daley, and a significant underdog to Madigan - but the race will be competitive regardless. The 4 Republicans most seriously looking at this race are Treasurer Dan Rutherford, Rep. Aaron Schock, State Sen. Kirk Dillard, and investor Bruce Rauner. All would be good candidates; it's too early to say who is the strongest.
6. Pennsylvania Tossup
Gov. Tom Corbett has managed to offend just about everyone in his first two years, to the point where he's sure to break the 32-year tradition of PA only having a competitive gubernatorial race every 8th year, and may break the 68-year tradition of 8-year pendulum swings in the governorship. Corbett is likely to face a primary challenge if he runs again, from Montgomery County Commissioner Bruce Castor. Either one will face a tough general election; at this point the most likely Democratic nominee is Rep. Alison Schwartz, a moderate-liberal with strong fundraising, who would be a very strong statewide candidate. Treasurer Rob McCord is another possibility, but he could also easily slide into PA-13 if it came open. Republicans' odds would go up if Corbett retired (he has signaled he may be thinking about it) and was replaced by either of Reps. Jim Gerlach or Pat Meehan. 7. South Carolina Tossup
This race is lining up as a rematch of 2010, with Gov. Nikki Haley (R) facing State Sen. Vincent Sheheen. Haley has made a lot of enemies in the SCGOP and they show no signs of reconciling with her. Though she's very likely to win a primary, it's quite possible Sheheen peels off enough disgruntled Republicans to win a general. As a result, national Ds are making this race a high priority. This race should probably be seen as close to a pure tossup.
8. Connecticut Tossup
Like SC, this 2014 race has basically already been set up as a rematch of 2010, where former Ambassador Tom Foley (R) is taking on Gov. Malloy. Malloy has rebounded slightly from bad polls early in his term but is still seen as very vulnerable. Foley is a strong candidate with an excellent shot at winning the rematch, but Malloy's incumbency and the blue lean of CT are not to be discounted as strong tailwinds for the Governor.
9. Massachusetts Tossup
This race depends a lot on what Scott Brown decides to do - if he runs here, he clears the R primary and is a moderate favorite in the general. If he runs for Senate, it's near certain that 2010 nominee Charlie Baker will take another shot at the corner office. Baker would be a relatively strong candidate but would start as a slight underdog to any Dem. Democrats openly thinking about running are Tim "the Leadfoot LG" Murray, State Treasurer Steve Grossman, and State Sen. Dan Wolf. Other possibilities are AG Coakley and US Attorney Carmen Ortiz, rumored to be the favorite of retiring Gov. Deval Patrick.
10. Virginia Tossup
Ken Cuccinelli's campaign has gotten off to a bad start after becoming the presumptive R nominee. LG Bill Bolling is continuing to explore an indie run, and Gov. Bob McDonnell doesn't seem to be too eager to help Cooch, releasing an internal poll that shows his fellow Republican behind Dem Terry McAulliffe by one point. These stumbles are enough to push this race over the line from Leans R to Tossup, though it's still more likely than not that VA's White House compensation mechanism and TMac's weakness as a candidate pull Cuccinelli over the line.
Leans toward incumbent party:
11. Michigan Lean R
Narrative-driving PPP Polls notwithstanding, Gov. Snyder shored up the Republican base with RTW and the outrage doesn't seem to be overwhelming. He's more vulnerable than he was a month ago, but Snyder still has time to follow the well worn path of Christie, Walker, and Kasich back to higher approvals. The two most prominent Democrats likely to take him on are State Sen. Gretchen Whitmer and Rep. Gary Peters. Backup plans largely revolve around ex-Rep. Mark Schauer and 2010 nominee Virg Bernero. Snyder still has to be considered the slight favorite here as he has time for the RTW outrage to fade, but this race should be competitive.
12. Ohio Lean R
After looking to be in extreme peril for most of his first two years, Gov. John Kasich has slowly climbed into favorable territory, following a very similar playbook to ideologically similar Govs. Christie and Walker. Kasich is not quite as adept a politician as those two, however, and he still faces the prospect of a strong challenge. Democrats most likely to take him on are Rep. Tim Ryan, ex-Gov. Ted Stickland, ex-AG Richard Cordray, and Cuyahoga CE Ed FitzGerald. Any will start as a slight underdog to the increasingly popuar Kasich but all have a shot at beating him.
13. Arizona Lean R
With the recent revelation that Gov. Jan Brewer is looking more likely to challenge the state's term limits law in court, this race has a new dimension added to it. SoS Ken Bennett is already running on the R side, and may be joined by quite a few other candidates, such as former Treasurer Dean Martin, AG Tom Horne, Treasurer Doug Ducey, Mesa mayor Scott Smith, and Wil Cardon - and these folks would not necessarily be scared off by a Brewer bid. Democrats may want to run Terry Goddard again; other options include Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, 2010 AG nominee Felicia Rotellini, and Richard Carmona. Democrats face a somewhat uphill battle here but this race is winnable for them under the right cirucmstances.
14. Hawaii Lean D
Neil Abercrombie is an extremely unpopular governor, but he has the good fortune of being in a state that is 1) heavily tilted in favor of his party, and 2) in possession of a very strong statewide machine. At this point it seems unikely Abercrombie will face a serious primary challenge, and he still must be considered the favorite against anyone the HIGOP can put up. Possibilities on the Republican side include 2010 nominee Duke Aiona, once (and future?) Rep. Charles Djou, Senate Minority Caucus Sam Slom, and former Gov. Linda Lingle, who would unquestionably be Republicans' best recruit despite her Senate drubbing; Hawaiians are more open to electing Republicans during midterms, and to positions where influence and seniority are not on the line.
15. Iowa Lean R
This one looks likely to be another 2010 rematch, with ex-Gov. Chet Culver (D) looking increasingly likely to try for a rematch with Gov. Terry Branstad. Unlike the CT and SC rematches, Branstad is likely to have a marked advantage here, as his favorability is fairly high. It's hard to count out Culver but he'll likely be facing an uphill race here. If Branstad retires two possible replacements are LG Kim Reynolds and Agriculture Commissioner Bill Northey.
16. Minnesota Lean D
After a rocky start, Gov. Mark Dayton (D) has regained his footing and become relatively popular. Dayton may retire, in which case LG Yvonne Prettner-Solon, Rep. Tim Walz, SoS Mark Ritchie, and AG Lori Swanson may be replacements. The more likely scenario is that he runs again, however, and is a significant favorite over whomever Republicans put up. Rs have a laundry list of names considering this race, and all except for Norm Coleman are somewhat of the "B" list variety. State Sen. David Hann, State Rep. John Kriesel, and Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson have all explored bids in recent weeks.
17. Oregon Lean D
Gov. John Kitzhaber has mediocre approval ratings, but the ORGOP bench is very weak. Beyond Rep. Greg Walden and ex-Sen. Gordon Smith, neither of which is likely to run, Oregon Republicans' best bets are State Rep. Bruce Hanna, State Sens. Jason Atkinson and Bruce Starr, Party Chair Allen Alley, and 2012 SoS Candidate Knute Buehler. Any will be an underdog to Kitzhaber or most any other Democrat. If Kitzhaber retires, possible replacements are Treasurer Ted Wheeler and SoS Kate Brown.
18. Wisconsin Lean R
Wisconsin Democrats largely wasted their energy on the recall, so it seems unlikely that Walker will face a particularly tough challenge in his second re-election bid. At this point another Barrett bid seems unlikely, so some of the also-rans from 2012 may want to take a shot - 2012 LG candidate Mahlon Mitchell, ex-Dane CE Kathy Falk and State Sen. Kathleen Vinehout may be possibilities. Though Walker is still a polarizing figure, it seems that a slim majority of WI supports him whole-heartedly.
Likely to stay with incumbent party:
19. New Mexico Likely R
Despite her sky-high approval ratings, Gov. Susanna Martinez has already drawn a strong challenger in AG Gary King, who seems likely to get a cleared primary with everyone else shying away from the popular incubent. Though the challenge from a high-profile statewide office-holder can't be ignored, the Governor starts out as the ovewhelming favorite for a second term, and it seems like this may be more of a bid by King to position himself for 2018 after being termed out of the AG's slot.
20. Kansas Likely R
Even in deep-red Kansas, Gov. Sam Brownback is a polarizingly conservative figure, as evidenced by his successful crusade to topple the moderate Republican-Democratic coalition that ran the Senate. For his efforts, he seems likely to draw a serious challenger, but in deep red Kansas it's an open question of how effective said challenger can be. Democrats' most likely names are the members of their 2010 ticket, State Sen. Tom Holland and ex-State Sen. Kelly Kultala. State Sen. Laura Kelly may be another option.
21. Nevada Likely R
Brian Sandoval has been surprisingly popular, and there are rumors he may not even get a serious challenge. The Democrats' dream candidate, AG Catherine Cortez-Masto, seems to be shying away and may run for a softer target downballot. In a purple state a lot can change in two years, but at this point Republicans' bigger concern will be holding the LG office in case Sandoval wants to make a run for Reid's seat in 2016.
22. Georgia Likely R
Despite Georgia's red hue, Gov. Nathan Deal has rather unimpressive favorability ratings and may face a serious primary challenger. 2010 candidate and ex-SoS Karen Handel may run, but is more likely to challenge Chambliss. Democrats may have a slight shot with a strong candidate like Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed or ex-AG Thurbert Baker.
23. Colorado Likely D
Despite Colorado's decidely purple hue, Gov. John Hickenlooper doesn't seem to be too vulnerable. His status as a low-profile moderate may hurt any 2016 ambitions but seems to be helping him at home, as most Republicans of stature are shying away from a challenge. Possible candidates might include State Sen. Kevin Lundberg, ex-State Sen. Josh Penry, ex-LG Jane Norton, and Treasurer Walker Stapleton, but all would start as pronounced underdogs.
24. New Jersey Likely R
Despite his confrontational tone, Chris Christie appears very well-positioned to get another term after his adept handling of Hurricane Sandy and co-opting of many of his enemies. State Sen. Barbara Buono is already running, but likely to face a bloody primary with Senate President Steve Sweeney. Christie should be well positioned to dominate either, but has made enough enemies that he can't be regarded as entirely secure.
25. Nebraska Likely R
Nebraska's open gubernatorial seat has a clear front-runner in LG Rick Sheehy, the favored successor of Gov. Dave Heineman. But after Unicameral Speaker Mike Flood dropped out for family reasons, other Republicans are likely to jump into the primary field. State Sen. Charlie Janssen and Auditor Mike Foley are considered possible candidates. Democrats have a pair of credible candidates in State Sen. Steve Lathrop and ex-University Regent Chuck Hassebrook, but it's a long shot that either will be able to win.
26. Maryland Likely D
Republicans' best hope in this race was for a Democrat, Peter Franchot, (a kind of Cuomoesque figure) - and we couldn't even get that. Unless State Sen. Allan Kittleman (R) reverses course and runs, Maryland is likely to see one of three liberal Democrats - LG Anthony Brown, AG Doug Gansler, or Howard CE Ken Ulman - carry on the O'Malley mantle. At this point Brown is the most likely nominee but the others have a chance at an upset. The other Rs looking at this race - 2012 Senate nominee Dan Bongino, Harford CE Daniel Craig, and Frederick CE Blaine Young - are pretty weaksauce stuff.
27. New Hampshire Likely D
Barring a catastrophic two years, it's pretty hard to oust a one-term NH Governor. Two Republicans that might try to beat Hassan are ex-State Rep. Kevin Smith and outgoing Rep. Frank Guinta. But unless Hassan screws up (always a possibility, but not something to count on) it will be hard for either to gain traction.
28. Alaska Likely R
Parnell is safe, but if he decides to run for the Senate (as there currently seems to be a 50-50 shot of him doing) the race could be competitive. The obvious R successor is LG Mead Treadwell, but Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan and ex-LG Loren Leman are other possibilities. Democrats would face an uphill battle, but possible names that could win an open seat are ex-State Reps. Ethan Berkowitz and Sharon Cissna and even Sen. Mark Begich.
29. Texas Likely R
Texas Democrats' best hope is that Rick Perry runs again and makes another Oops. If Perry retires and is replaced by LG David Dewhurst or AG Greg Abbott it's doubtful Dems could make this competitive. But a strong D like SA Mayor Julian Castro might be able to capitalize on Perry fatigue - though it would still be an extreme longshot.
30. California Likely D
Yes, California Republicans, this one isn't Safe D. But that's only because Democrats have control of everything so any screw-ups (and, this being California, there will be screw-ups) are their fault alone. That provides Republicans with a very slight opportunity. Republicans' dream candidate here would be Condoleeza Rice, but it's doubtful she'd want to run. A more realistic possibility is State Sen. Sam Blakeslee, who is moderate enough to win statewide - but it's unclear if he can raise the cash. Brown may not seek a fourth term, in which case AG Kamala Harris, LG Gavin Newsom, or outgoing LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa could be replacements. They are all flawed in their own way but would still likely be dominant in a statewide general.
Safe for incumbent party:
31. Alabama Safe R
Gov. Bentley's biggest issues are likely to be in the primary, where he is likely to face a challenge over his coziness with the teachers' union. The most likely name to challenge him is 2010 opponent Bradley Byrne, but 2010 candidate Tim James, LG Kay Ivey, and termed out SoS Beth Chapman may be other possibilities. Bentley may retire, in which case James, Ivey, Chapman, and Byrne are likely to be the front-runners to succeed him. Democrats really don't have many good options in AL, but ex-Rep. Bobby Bright would probably be their strongest candidate if he decided to come out of retirement. With the state legislature up for re-election in 2014, it's unlikely that Dem legislators would want to give up their seats for such an uphill battle.
32. Idaho Safe R
Gov. Butch Otter says he's running for a third term, and it's hard to see him failing to get it, even in spite of the overturning of his major education policy initiatives by referendum this year. If Otter reverses course and decides to retire, possible replacements could include former Gov. and Sen. Jim Risch, Superintendent Tom Luna, and AG Lawrence Wasden. Democrats have few good options here to even make this competitive.
33. South Dakota Safe R
Despite a stinging setback this year in the ballot-box defeat of his education reform package, Gov. Dennis Daugaard is heavily favored to win a second term. Democrats haven't won a SD Governor's race since 1974 and it's hard to see this year breaking the pattern, as strong candidates probably look more toward the (likely open) Senate seat.
34. Oklahoma Safe R
In bright-red Oklahoma, Gov. Mary Fallin appears very likely to easily win a second term. Democrats had a deep OK bench as recently as 2010, so there's a decent possibility they get a "name" challenger - but it's very hard to see Fallin losing to any Democrat.
35. Vermont Safe D
After his easy first re-election, Peter Shumlin apears set to have the governorship for as long as he wants it. Any prominent Republican seems more likely to wait for 2016, when there's a decent chance Shumlin could run for President or Leahy's Senate seat.
36. New York Safe D
At this point, Cuomo's only problems will be in a Democratic primary, but it's hard to see anyone trying to mount a serious challenge because his approvals are high across the political spectrum. While we're discussing things that are high, it's worth noting that the one Republican considering a bid to challenge Cuomo (who is in good position to get half the R vote) is Richard Stratton, a magazine publisher, convicted drug trafficker, and cannabis enthusiast.
37. Tennessee Safe R
When your prospective challenger says "I don't think Gov. Haslam is going to lose any sleep over me" and that you're "a good man with deep pockets and a 70 percent approval rating," things are looking pretty good. TN Democrats have a decent prospective candidate here in State Rep. Craig Fitzhugh. But if you feel the need to start off your campaign discussion by acknowledging you have no chance of winning, it's a pretty safe bet you have no chance of winning.
38. Wyoming Safe R
Democrats couldn't even challenge Mead in an open seat environment in 2010 with a popular incumbent Governor. It's basically inconcievable that they could challenge Mead as a popular incumbent.
Tomorrow: Senate Rankings.