According to The Cook Political Report, which maintains forecasts for various elections across the United States, Democratic chances are improving in the governor’s races in three states, including Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Oklahoma.
The best Democratic chances out of that list, per the site, are in Michigan and Pennsylvania, where they’re moving their forecasts from “lean Democrat” to “likely Democrat.” In Michigan, Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer, who drew criticism from far-right extremists and Trump himself amid attempts to stem the spread of COVID-19, is running for re-election against inexperienced, Trump-backed GOP challenger Tudor Dixon, while in Pennsylvania, Democratic state Attorney General Josh Shapiro and Republican state Sen. Doug Mastriano, a proponent of election conspiracy theories, are battling for the governorship that outgoing Democrat Tom Wolf is vacating. Pennsylvania leaders also faced criticism for measures targeting the spread of COVID-19, although those on the Right often overstated the extent to which people were actually restricted. Both states were, of course, also sites of particularly fierce post-election face-offs over the results in 2020.
Electing a Republican in either locale, particularly one backed by Trump, could — at the very least — help move along the implementation of suppressive new rules around elections ahead of the 2024 presidential race that respond to imaginary problems of widespread fraud and make voting pointlessly more difficult. In both Michigan and Pennsylvania, polling shows highly positive signs for the Dems. Dixon has not led in a single major poll released publicly since the general election season started in the state, according to data cataloged at FiveThirtyEight, which puts Whitmer an average of over 12 percent ahead in polling data as of this Friday afternoon. The same site also put Shapiro ahead by an average of double-digits as of the same point, and Mastriano hasn’t led in a single public poll cataloged there either, although margins are sometimes small. Polling from the GOP-leaning Trafalgar Group had Whitmer up by four percent and Shapiro leading by two.
There have also been surprisingly close poll results in the Oklahoma governor’s race, where incumbent Republican Kevin Stitt is running for re-election after helping lead the charge of GOP state officials imposing restrictions on abortion. Although Stitt’s lead is well into the double-digits in some recent polling, in one of the most recent polls cataloged on FiveThirtyEight it’s just one percent. In another, it’s three percent. Relatedly, the Cook forecast for the race is now “likely Republican” instead of “solid Republican,” a step down in confidence for Republican chances. Cook, meanwhile, also changed their rating for the Ohio governor’s race towards the Republicans amid consistently positive signs for incumbent GOP’er Mike DeWine in polling. DeWine fares much better in polling than J.D. Vance, the Republican running for the state’s Senate seat this year.
“At the outset of this gubernatorial cycle, we fully expected perpetual swing states like Pennsylvania and Michigan to be in the Toss Up column all the way until Election Day,” the Cook article outlining the changes said. “With Democrats facing national headwinds, Republicans had a real chance to flip the open seat in the Keystone State and be optimistic about defeating Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. No two states on the map have seen a larger drop in their fortunes than these in the Rust Belt. And while, yes, the environment has significantly improved for Democrats, the further slide of both contests down the GOP’s competitive ladder is due to weak candidates who are barely running even semi-functional campaigns. As such, we are shifting both Michigan and Pennsylvania gubernatorial contests from Lean Democratic to Likely Democratic.”
🚨 Four new rating changes today: #MIGOV: Lean D to Likely D#PAGOV: Lean D to Likely D#OKGOV: Solid R to Likely R#OHGOV: Likely R to Solid R
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— Cook Political Report (@CookPolitical) September 29, 2022
Image: Gage Skidmore/ Creative Commons