States with GOP governors Democrats most likely to overthrow midterm
Democrats appear poised to flip several midterm governorships with less than three months until the Nov. 8 election.
Currently, Democrats hold governorships in 22 states, while Republican governors lead 28 states. Open races in states easily won by President Joe Biden in 2020 – and abortion became a key issue after Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the case that guaranteed abortion rights to women across the country – raises hopes for Democrats to topple the top office in several states despite a national environment favoring Republicans.
A recent poll shows Democrats are heavily favored to win gubernatorial races in Massachusetts and Maryland, two of the most Democratic states in the country that are currently led by moderate Republican governors who have spoken out against the former President Donald Trump. Democrats also lead polls in Arizona, one of the most divided states in the United States. In Georgia, Democrats are hoping Stacey Abrams will pick up a win over incumbent GOP Gov. Brian Kemp despite a polling deficit.
Attorney General Maura Healey appears well-positioned to overthrow the Bay State governorship, as GOP Gov. Charlie Baker declined to run for re-election despite comfortable margins in previous races.
The state primaries are scheduled for Tuesday, September 6, but all of Healey’s opponents have dropped out of the race. On the Republican side, attorney Geoff Diehl, who challenged Sen. Elizabeth Warren in 2018, is leading the GOP primary polls, making him the likeliest candidate to face Healey in November. Diehl received Trump’s endorsement, but that could be a liability in a general election in the state where Biden won by more than 33 points.
Healey holds a massive lead against Diehl in recent polls. A survey conducted by the University of Suffolk and The Boston Globe from July 20–23, Healey won 54% of the vote, to Diehl’s 23%, giving him a 31 percentage point lead. An Emerson College poll conducted May 2-4, meanwhile, found Healey with a similar 28-point lead.
Democrat Wes Moore is widely seen as the favorite to win the Maryland gubernatorial race against Trump-backed Republican Dan Cox. Like Massachusetts, Maryland is a staunchly blue state that previously elected moderate GOP Governor Larry Hogan. However, Cox, who defeated Hogan-backed Kelly Schultz in the primary, took Trump and right-wing positions that could be a tough sell to liberal voters in Maryland.
No high-quality polls on the race have been taken, but several indicators point to a likely victory for Moore. The Cook Political Report, an organization that tracks elections across the United States, considers the race “Safe Democrat,” meaning it’s not competitive for Republicans.
Biden, meanwhile, carried the state by about 33 points, which could make it difficult for a Trump-aligned candidate to succeed.
In Arizona, Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs currently holds a narrow lead against former TV news anchor Kari Lake, a Trump-backed Republican.
Arizona narrowly voted for Biden and is set to once again host some of the most competitive races across the country. Democrats hope Lake’s positioning on issues like the integrity of the 2020 presidential election and other controversial statements will steer moderate voters toward Hobbs in November, while Republicans are banking on Lake’s ability to move their Conservative base in November.
A set of recent polls from FiveThirtyEight show Hobbs with a 3.2-point lead against Lake. Meanwhile, a Fox News poll conducted Aug. 12-16 showed Hobbs winning 47% of the vote, to Lake’s 44%, which equates to a 3-point lead for Hobbs.
Georgia, another state Biden narrowly won, appears to offer Republicans a chance as polls indicate Kemp is favored for re-election. Kemp, a former Trump ally, refused to accept the former president’s claims that the election was stolen from him in Georgia. Trump endorsed his main challenger David Perdue, whom Kemp easily defeated in a rebuke of Trump.
He now faces Stacey Abrams, a rising star among the Democrats, in a 2018 rematch. Abrams rose to prominence mid-term after nearly winning the gubernatorial race as Georgia was previously considered as a republican-leaning state. His near-victory proved that Democrats can be competitive in Georgia, and many say his organization was paramount to their party’s success in the state in 2020.
However, polls show her floundering against Kemp in the hotly contested race. A set of polls from FiveThirtyEight show him with a 5.6-point lead, and a Fox News poll from July 22-26 showed Kemp with a 3-point lead over Abrams. The Cook Political Report considers the race “Lean Republican,” meaning it’s competitive, but Kemp has an edge.
Newsweek contacted the Republican Governors Association for comment.