Republicans currently hold an astonishing two-thirds of the governors’ mansions across the country, giving the GOP an overwhelming advantage in controlling state governments. This year, 26 of those seats are on the ballot.
Forecasts from leading election watchers show about 18 of the most competitive governor races in the 2018 midterm elections are currently Republican-held seats. Democrats finally have a lot of chances to regain some ground.
Beyond the usual issues, there’s one other big reason to pay attention to governors this year: Governors who are elected in 2018 will almost all still be in office in 2021, when the next round of congressional redistricting starts. In many states, governors will wield a veto pen over the new House and state legislative maps.
As in all elections this year, Donald Trump will loom large over the gubernatorial campaigns. In some major races, like Florida, his handpicked candidate is running up against an upstart Democrat who is betting on a big blue wave. Democrats are polling strongly even in states like Ohio, which Trump won by 8 points.
A few seem sure to flip: Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner in Illinois, for example, is considered all but a goner; Democrat J.B. Pritzker has a 16-point lead in the polls, on average. In Michigan, Democratic nominee Gretchen Whitmer has established an impressive 9-point lead in the polling over her Republican opponent to replace the outgoing, unpopular GOP Gov. Rick Snyder.
But a dozen or more other races look like they could go either way. Here they are: 2018’s most competitive gubernatorial races, ranked by the current polling average, according to Real Clear Politics.