Nov/Dec 2009

State News: August 2009



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Trends Indicate a Good Election Year for Democrats

By Mary Branham Dusenberry
Democrats could be in for another good year if current election trends hold.
Many are predicting Democrats to make gains, not only in Congress but also in state legislatures and governor’s races as well.
“I think there’s so much in the air with the presidential race,” Thad Beyle, a professor of political science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, told State News. “That could really change things as that gets more heated and brings people out who weren’t going to vote or were unsure of how they were going to vote.”
Democrats hold a 28 to 22 advantage in the governor’s offices across the country. The top spot is on the ballot in 11 states, and polls show Democrats with an edge in five of eight states where voters have been questioned, according to Beyle.
Five of those 11 seats are either solid or leaning Democratic, while three of the seats are solid Republican, according to a chart Beyle provided to State News. Democratic candidates in Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire and West Virginia are faring well in recent polls, while Beyle’s analysis lists Missouri as leaning Democrat.
Two states, North Dakota and Utah, are solidly in Republican, according to Beyle’s analysis, while Vermont is leaning Republican.
The other three states with governor’s races this year—Indiana, North Carolina and Washington—are considered as toss-ups.
On the legislative side, Democrats control both houses in 24 state legislatures, while Republicans control both houses in 16 states; the parties split control in nine states. Nebraska’s legislature is unicameral and nonpartisan.
But 553 of the 1,115 Senate seats and 2,571 of the 4,710 House seats up for grabs are held by Democratic legislators, some of them in states where the party holds narrow margins.
Democrats hold narrow margins—with just a five or fewer seat majority—in the state Senates of Colorado, Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico and Wisconsin, and in the state Houses of Indiana, Oregon and Pennsylvania, according to information compiled by The Council of State Governments’ Elections Center.
Republicans, meanwhile, hold narrow margins in the state Senates of Alaska, Arizona, Nevada, New York, North Dakota and South Dakota, and the state Houses in Delaware, Montana and Wisconsin, according to the CSG Elections Center.
The top 10 battleground states—where there is a potential for change—are New York, Tennessee, Oklahoma and Nevada, where control of the Senate could change; and Ohio, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Indiana and Wisconsin, where the state House could change. In Montana, both the House and Senate could switch party control.
Mary Branham Dusenberry is managing editor for State News magazine.


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