Sabato's Crystal Ball

2006 Governor


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The 2004 election season was a quiet one for most state governors; only 11 states had gubernatorial contests, and of those 11, a mere seven featured incumbents running on Election Day. Contrastingly, 2006 will see 36 statehouses up for grabs, with quite a few of those open seat races. Republicans currently hold a 28 to 22 advantage in governorships–the same edge they held going into 2004. This was the one area where Democrats didn’t lose ground nationally, and they will look to capitalize on this in 2006 (Read more in recent Crystal Ball email updates).

Five governors whose terms expire after 2006 are not eligible for reelection due to term limits, and all of them happen to be Republicans: Mike Huckabee (AR), Bill Owens (CO), Jeb Bush (FL), Kenny Guinn (NV), and Bob Taft (OH). Add Dirk Kempthorne (ID), Mitt Romney (MA) and George Pataki (NY), who are also not running for reelection, and that brings the total to 8. While a few of these states appear to be safe Republican territory for the moment, others will make for some heated contests. Other governors who will definitely not be running for reelection at this point include Tom Vilsack (D-IA), who may choose to pursue a presidential nomination in 2008, and Mike Johanns (R-NE) who has already left to become the new Secretary of Agriculture.

Click on each state in the above map for detailed analysis of each race, or select the View All Races option. The chart below lists this year’s gubernatorial races by their current outlook.


2006 Governor Outlook Summary Chart

Each race is categorized by its current Crystal Ball Outlook, with a colored arrow denoting noticeable momentum in one direction or the other. Red arrows () indicate momentum for the Republican candidate, while blue arrows () signify momentum for the Democratic candidate.

Republican Held Seats up for Election in 2006: 22 (out of 28 held)

Solid R (6) Likely R (4) Leans R (4) R Toss-up (2) D Toss-up (0) Leans D (1) Likely D (4) Solid D (1)
CT (Rell) AL (Riley) AK (OPEN) MN (Pawlenty) MD (Ehrlich) AR (OPEN) NY (OPEN)
HI (Lingle) CA (Schwarzenegger) FL (OPEN) ID (OPEN) CO (OPEN)
NE (Heineman) GA (Perdue) NV (OPEN) MA (OPEN)
SD (Rounds) SC (Sanford) RI (Carcieri) OH (OPEN)
VT (Douglas)
TX (Perry)
WY (Freudenthal)
TN (Bredesen)
WI (Doyle) PA (Rendell)
MI (Granholm) OK (Henry)
ME (Baldacci) NM (Richardson)
IA (OPEN) NH (Lynch)
OR (Kulongoski) IL (Blagojevich) KS (Sebelius) AZ (Napolitano)
Solid R (0) Likely R (0) Leans R (0) R Toss-up (0) D Toss-up (1) Leans D (5) Likely D (1) Solid D (7)

Democratic Held Seats up for Election: 14 (out of 22 held)

The Brutal B – November 6, 2006: +6 to +8 D