Republicans are expected to flip four governorships in Democratic-led states in November’s elections, bringing the total number of GOP governors in the country to 30, according to projections published on Friday.
Republican candidates are currently leading polls in gubernatorial races in Nevada, Oregon, Wisconsin and Kansas, according to polls aggregated by RealClearPolitics (RCP).
Two of these states, Oregon and Nevada, are rated by the Cook Partisan Voting Index (CPVI) as more Democratic than Republican, making them much tougher territory for GOP candidates to win.
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Oregon, the most Democratic-leaning of the four states with a CPVI score of D+6, has former Republican State Rep. Christine Drazan leading former Democratic State House Speaker Tina Kotek by 2%, per a recent Emerson College poll. Drazan’s lead, with an RCP average of 2.4%, has been consistent since August.
Drazan’s lead in a reliably Democratic state, which voted for President Joe Biden by a 16% margin in 2020, comes even as she has run a largely conservative campaign, including denouncing abortion, the decriminalization of all drugs (which Oregon legalized in 2020) and vowing to enforce ordinances against homelessness. Portland, the state’s capital and largest city, has more than 6,000 people living on its streets, according to the Mayor’s office.
Drazan’s campaign recently received a financial boost of $1 million from Phil Knight, the Oregon-born co-founder of Nike, a considerable sum for a state with a population of four million. It “all but guarantees Drazan will have the funding she needs to compete with Kotek in an extremely tight race,” according to Oregon Public Broadcasting.
n Nevada, Republican candidate and Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo is leading incumbent Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak by an average of 1.6% across all major polls. Nevada has a CPVI of R+1, though the state has voted for Democratic presidential candidates in every election since 2004.
Sisolak, a first-term governor, is the first Democrat to have won the state since 1994, yet has faced criticism for his COVID-19 response, with restrictions affecting the state’s Las Vegas-centered tourism industry, and past business dealings. Lombardo has made Sisolak’s past the focus of his campaign.
In Wisconsin, incumbent Democratic Gov. Tony Evers narrowly trails Republican businessman Tim Michels by up to 3%, according to RCP. Wisconsin, with a CPVI of R+2, is considered key to national Republican fortunes in November’s elections, with incumbent Republican Sen. Ron Johnson narrowly leading Democratic Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes in most polls.
Kansas, the most Republican-leaning of the four states, has experienced scant and inconsistent polling, with half showing either Republican Attorney General Derek Schmidt or incumbent Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly in the lead. Still, with a CPVI of R+10, Schmidt – who was endorsed by former President Donald Trump – is expected to defeat Kelly, who herself defeated former Secretary of State Kris Kobach by 5% to win the race in 2018.