Generally speaking, gubernatorial races tend to slip under the radar, and this year isn't any different. Thirty-seven states are holding gubernatorial races this fall, and with the exception of California and Texas, they've mostly gone unremarked on by mainstream outlets. That's a shame: Not only do governors have a tremendous impact on the policies that directly affect most Americans, but governorships are often proving grounds for more ambitious politicians. Four of the last six presidents came from state houses, and 12 former governors now reside in the Senate.
This year's gubernatorial elections are a little more important than most; these elections will have a lasting impact on next year's round of redistricting, and while both parties are working hard to win, Republicans are most likely to come out victorious. According to predictions by the University of Virginia's Center for Politics, if states held their gubernatorial elections today, the GOP would walk away with a seven-seat gain. In Iowa, Republican former Gov. Terry Branstad looks likely to topple one-term incumbent Chet Culver, and in Illinois, incumbent Pat Quinn is in a tight race with Republican Bill Brady. What's more, the Republican Governors Association is on track to out-raise and outspend its Democratic counterpart; the RGA has more than $40 million cash on hand, compared to $22 million for the DGA.
Of course, nothing is written in stone, and it's possible that the landscape could shift again in the four months before the elections. But given the record high levels of Republican enthusiasm, as well as the smaller gubernatorial electorates, it's likely that Republicans will walk away from November with significant gains at the state level.
-- Jamelle Bouie