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An early look at the 2014 Governor landscape

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On our final polls for this election cycle we also looked ahead to the 2014 race for Governor in every state that has one, testing the sitting incumbent against a generic opponent of the opposite party. Here’s what we found, grouped into three different categories:
Folks in a whole lot of trouble:
Many of the Republicans who were swept into office by the wave election of 2010 may have a hard time winning a second term if 2014 doesn’t prove to be another huge year for their party.
In Pennsylvania Tom Corbett trails a generic Democrat 47/37. In Maine Paul LePage trails a hypothetical opponent from the opposite party 49/41. Both of them became unpopular pretty early in their terms and have stayed that way.
Other Republicans who look highly vulnerable next time around are Florida’s Rick Scott who trails a generic Democrats 48/44, and Ohio’s John Kasich who leads a potential foe only 44/43. The good news for these folks at least is that their numbers have been on an upward trajectory during their second year in office- they both trailed by much wider margins at this time a year ago.
Folks who look favored for another term, at least for now:
Three other Republican Governors elected in 2010 lead hypothetical Democratic opponents for 2014 by single digit margins- they look like favorites for now but could become more vulnerable. Those are Michigan’s Rick Snyder (47/41 against a generic Dem), Wisconsin’s Scott Walker (50/43), and Iowa’s Terry Branstad (49/40). All three of these Governors posted pretty poor numbers during their first year in office but have seen significant improvement in their standing in year 2.
Democrat Dan Malloy of Connecticut also belongs in this category. We’ve tended to find him as one of the most unpopular Governors in the country so far but he saw a major improvement in our last poll to the point where he led a hypothetical Republican foe 48-37. It’s hard to say what might have produced such a sudden, substantial improvement- perhaps his leadership during the hurricane? if that is the case we’ll have to keep an eye on whether his improved numbers are permanent or just fleeting.
Folks who look pretty safe for now:
Democrats Mark Dayton of Minnesota and John Hickenlooper of Colorado, and Republican Brian Sandoval of Nevada have all had consistently high approval numbers since taking office and continue to. Dayton leads a generic Republican 51/38, and Hickenlooper does 54/33. Sandoval leads a generic Democrat 55/32.
We’ll kick off our more extensive 2013/2014 cycle Gubernatorial polling the week after Thanksgiving.
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