GOP takes aim at record for gubernatorial wins

By Sean Lengell, The Washington Times

Republicans are poised to win more gubernatorial seats in 2010 than in any election during the past 90 years – a feat that would eclipse the 24 seats won during the “Republican Revolution” of 1994, a new study shows.

The GOP also has a good chance to challenge the party’s tally of 29 seats it won in 1920, its best showing during the 20th and 21st centuries, according to an analysis by Smart Politics, a nonpartisan blog.

“We are going to see a historic or near-historic year for the GOP” in gubernatorial elections,” said Eric J. Ostermeier, a University of Minnesota professor who writes and moderates Smart Politics.

While the 1994 elections are best known for the Republican’s 54-seat swing in the House, the two dozen governor seats won by the party that year was the most since the 24 seats it captured in 1966. The GOP also won 24 seats in 1928.

Yet Republican gubernatorial candidates are looking even stronger in 2010 than in 1994. The latest public opinion surveys give Republicans the advantage in 28 of 37 states holding gubernatorial elections this year, says Smart Politics, which is run by the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs.

“A lot of these polls are obviously fluid and a lot of these are within the margin of error, but they’re almost all tilting toward the Republicans in a lot of these tossup states,” Mr. Ostermeier said. “So 25 [seats] is definitely a number I think that the Republican Governors Association is going to try to hit.”

Polling shows that gubernatorial candidates in 15 of these states would win by double digits: Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Nevada, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah and Wyoming.

GOP candidates also have more narrow advantages in Alabama, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Maine, Michigan, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Texas, Vermont and Wisconsin, the blog says.

Democrats currently lead in the latest polling in just seven states: Arkansas, California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire and New York. Independent candidate and former Republican senator Lincoln Chafee has a narrow lead in Rhode Island, the blog says.

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