Sabato's Crystal Ball Ratings Shift NC, IN Gov Toward Dems

Sabato’s Crystal Ball Ratings Shift NC, IN Gov Toward Dems

Trump/Cruz effect, discrimination laws harm Govs. Pence, McCrory  

Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball is out with new ratings today that have shifted two of 2016’s top gubernatorial races in favor of the Democrats.

Citing the Trump/Cruz downballot effect and the economic fallout from anti-LGBT laws, the Crystal Ball ratings moved towards Democrats challenging Indiana Gov. Mike Pence and North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory.

Sabato’s Crystal Ball moved North Carolina from “Lean Republican” to “Toss-up,” and moved Indiana from “Likely Republican” to “Lean Republican.” From Sabato’s Crystal Ball:

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On the ratings change, Sabato’s Crystal Ball writes:

“Indiana: One of the surprising margins on Election Night 2012 was now-Gov. Mike Pence’s (R) closer-than-expected win over former state House Speaker John Gregg (D). Pence won by just three percentage points and ran about 4.5 points behind Mitt Romney, who easily carried the state in the presidential race after Barack Obama very narrowly won it in 2008. Gregg is running again. Since winning, Pence has had some shaky moments, most notably a controversy over a 2015 bill that some believed would legitimize discrimination against gays and lesbians. More recently, Pence signed a bill that made Indiana just the second state (along with North Dakota) to outlaw abortions that parents seek because the fetus has been diagnosed with a disability. Gregg, who opposes abortion rights, argues that the bill goes too far. While Indiana is the most conservative state in the Midwest, it’s fair to wonder whether social issues could hurt Pence in his reelection bid. But the bigger problem for Pence is one he shares in common with the other incumbents discussed here: The GOP’s problems at the top of the ticket could potentially trim the Republican presidential nominee’s margins in Indiana, or even allow the Democratic nominee to carry the state, as Obama did once. Obama’s 2008 victory didn’t prevent Pence’s predecessor, Mitch Daniels (R), from easily winning reelection with 58% of the vote, but Pence isn’t Daniels, and he has not yet displayed the kind of crossover appeal that his predecessor enjoyed. Pence remains a favorite in his rematch with Gregg, but we’re moving the race from Likely Republican to Leans Republican.”

“North Carolina: The Tar Heel State’s statehouse race has always been the marquee gubernatorial contest this cycle. Not only is North Carolina the most populous state holding a gubernatorial race this year, but it’s also one of only two gubernatorial states (the much-smaller New Hampshire is the other) that are likely to be presidential swing states in the event of a close national race. Gov. Pat McCrory (R) has generally had fairly weak approval numbers throughout his time in office, and he is now dealing with a challenge similar to the one Pence faced last year: McCrory just signed a bill that bans cities from creating local policies dealing with gender-identity discrimination and forces transgender students in public schools to use the bathroom that corresponds with their birth gender. There’s been a backlash over the law, and it has so far led PayPal to cancel plans to create 400 jobs in the state. Republicans have long recognized the threat that Attorney General Roy Cooper (D) presents to McCrory, and both sides are gearing up for an expensive, nasty race. Because of incumbency, we were giving McCrory the benefit of the doubt. But no longer: A Donald Trump or Ted Cruz nomination could very well allow the Democratic nominee to win North Carolina, and even if the GOP nominee does carry North Carolina in the fall there’s no guarantee that McCrory will run ahead of the presidential ticket. McCrory’s reelection bid moves from Leans Republican to Toss-up.”

Read the full ratings change here.