GOP Grabs 30 Governor Seats, Highest for Either Party in Over a Decade


It was an important win in the Democrats' column because New Hampshire, despite its meager four electoral votes, is considered a key battleground state in the presidential election. Both President Obama and Mitt Romney made last-minute campaign stops there before Election Day, and ABC News projected that the Granite state will go to Obama.

There were other open statehouse races that were too close to call heading into Election Day.

The battle for retiring Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire's seat has been fierce between GOP candidate Rob McKenna and Democrat Jay Inslee. They have reportedly raised over $9 million each for a gubernatorial seat a Republican hasn't taken in over 30 years. Duffy said the race is close because voters in that state are ready for a change.

"There are issues some Democratic governors have promised to solve and they haven't. Education, that's a big one, and the economy is not doing all that well," she said. "[But] McKenna is going to have to really overcome a strong performance by Obama if he's really going to win there."

In Montana, Democratic Attorney General Steve Bullock faced off against former Republican Rep. Rick Hill with narrow poll margins between them. Democratic Gov. Brian Schweitzer, who has been in office since 2005, is not eligible for re-election because of term limits.

Six incumbent governors faced re-election, four Democrats and two Republicans. Democrats grabbed the first two gubernatorial wins of the night with incumbent victories in Vermont and Delaware, two states that ABC News projected went to Obama.

In those states, both of which were expected to remain blue, Democratic incumbents Gov. Jack Markell of Delaware and Gov. Peter Shumlin of Vermont were elected to second terms.

Democratic incumbents Jay Nixon of Missouri and Earl Ray Tomblin of West Viriginia faced stiff Republican challenges, but both kept their seats.

Nixon became the first governor of his state to be elected for a second term in 16 years. Tomblin defeated GOP candidate Bill Maloney for a second time. He narrowly beat Maloney in a special election just last year after then-governor Joe Manchin won a seat to the Senate.

The two Republican incumbents, North Dakota's Jack Dalrymple and Utah's Gary Herbert, both cruised to a second term.

  But despite these contests, Duffy said the real gubernatorial races to watch are the ones yet to come in the next election cycle, especially Virginia, a key swing state that elected a Republican governor in 2010 for the first time in over a decade, and New Jersey, where Democrats will have to find a challenger to go against Republican Gov. Chris Christie. Christie has enjoyed a steady approval rating in the 50s for the past few weeks.

  "There are going to be a number of open seats and both parties have some problematic governors," Duffy said. "Midterms aren't influenced by the presidential election, they stand on their own, and there are just so many more of them."

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