The Democrats made considerable gains on the gubernatorial level, as we expected. They gained control of the offices of the governor of the Republicans in Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico and Wisconsin. Connecticut is still too close to call, but Republican Bob Stefanowski is closely behind Democrat Ned Lamont, and a return from Stefanowski is the only remaining shot from the GOP to pick up a Democrat state. The majority of Americans probably have a Democratic governor when the results are final.
That said, the Democrats did not have the banner-gubernatorial night that our predicted suggestion was possible. Let me go through the details.
Obama-Trump states: There are six states that Obama won in 2012 and that went to Trump in 2016 – Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Our model suggested that Democrats had a great chance of winning all six, which would have been a huge coup for the party. Instead, Republicans won in Florida, Iowa and Ohio, while the Democrats won Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
Republicans entered this election with control from both the state legislator and the governor's office in all of these states but Pennsylvania. They will retain full control in Florida, Iowa and Ohio. This gives them almost unbridled power, not only in terms of policy, but also in drawing up district lines for national and federal legislative races. But it is great for Democrats to have won in Michigan and Wisconsin and to break so-called trifectas in those states.
The Midwest: The victory in Illinois gives the Democrats total control over that state. The victories in Kansas and Wisconsin will be a moral stimulus for the Democrats because they are Gov. Kris Kobach, an ally of the Trump, in Kansas, and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker have reports, known for his anti-union initiatives. That said, the republicans not only held fast in Iowa and Ohio, but also in South Dakota, where the Democrats looked like they had the opportunity to get angry.
Black candidates: Only two African Americans have ever been elected governors in American history. Democrats had three black candidates this year alone. Maryland's Ben Jealous lost as expected to Larry Hogan, a popular and moderate Republican. But Andrew Gillum from Florida, who performed in most polls of his race and was a favorite of party activists, was defeated by Republican Ron DeSantis in one of the most surprising results of the night. There is still no winner known in Georgia, but Stacey Abrams follows the Republican Brian Kemp and seems likely not to make up for the margin in that race. She refuses to give in for now, probably hoping that the last count places Kemp below the 50 percent needed for victory there and throws the two in a runoff.
Trump-focused republicans: DeSantis, Kemp and Kobach received the support of the president to help them during the primaries of this year to give a boost to more established republicans and then stay closely in their neighborhood during their general elections. The jury is not yet familiar with this approach, but Kemp seems likely to win and makes these candidates 2-1.
The Northeast: Before yesterday evening, this region was divided equally, with Democrats operating five states (Connecticut, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island) and Republicans five (Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont). Democratic governors won re-election in New York and Rhode Island (Delaware and New Jersey had no gubernatorial elections this year), but so did the Republicans in Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont. Maine moved to Democratic hands, so if the party can stick to Connecticut, power relations in the region will shift to six-four in favor of the Democrats. It helped Maine Democrat Janet Mills that she ran in an open-seat race, because the outgoing Republican Government Paul LePage could not flee because of term limits. In Connecticut, Stefanowski was supported by the unpopularity of the outgoing Democratic Government Dan Malloy, although it is not yet clear if that will prove enough to bring him past Lamont.
disrupts: Kansas is a traditional red state, but the loss of Kobach was not particularly surprising. He had his own controversial reputation, plus the baggage from the unpopular outbound administration of Sam Brownback, a republican who, from 2011, was the governor of the state until he resigned earlier this year to fill a post with the Trump administration. Others that I thought could be vulnerable, such as Oregon Democrat Kate Brown (with about 6 points) and New Hampshire Republican Chris Sununu (also leader of 6) won relatively comfortably.
We have to note some historical victories. Colorado Democrat Jared Polis becomes the first openly gay man elected governor in Michelle Lujan Grisham of the United States New Mexico, a Democrat, becomes the second female female governor and the first of her party. Republican Kristi Named the first female governor of South Dakota. Kay Ivey from Alabama became the first GOP woman to be elected governor in her state, and Kim Reynolds from Iowa, also a Republican, became the first woman of a party elected Governor there last night. (They both served as governors after their predecessors resigned.)