The Vote: Governors

Democrats expected to win in New Hampshire, although Republicans believed they had a legitimate shot.

Polls since mid-October showed wildly different pictures, with Shaheen’s lead ranging from eight to 19 percentage points over Humphrey, a former senator. Brown, a Republican state senator running independently, registered in the single digits in the polls.

Shaheen first took office in 1996, and began a second term in 1998 after winning 65 percent of the vote.

Republicans were encouraged for a time because Shaheen’s poll numbers through October indicated she would not get 50 percent of the vote. However, a November poll showed her with 51 percent.

The candidates frequently clashed over how to deal with a court order to reform education funding in the state. Shaheen said she wouldn’t propose a solution until after the election, when she hears from a special study committee. Humphrey challenged her to join him in a pledge not to raise taxes to address the problem.

North Carolina

Mike Easley (D) vs. Richard Vinroot (R)

ABCNEWS PROJECTION: Incumbent Party (D) Wins

Mike Easley, the state attorney general, has beaten Richard Vinroot to keep the governorship of North Carolina in Democratic hands.

With 97 percent of the vote counted, Easley held a 52 to 46 percent lead.

Republicans had hoped for an upset in North Carolina, claiming their candidate — Vinroot, the former mayor of Charlotte — had momentum in his favor after narrowing a large deficit in recent months.

Still, Democrats were confident they would keep their grip on the statehouse in the largest of the states at play in this year’s gubernatorial races.

Democratic Gov. Jim Hunt was barred from running for re-election by term limits.

A mid-October poll showed Easley leading Vinroot by six points, with a 4.9 percent margin of error.

A poll at the end of October showed Easley’s lead growing to eight points, but the two-point change was within the Research 2000 poll’s 5 percent margin of error.

Republicans believed Vinroot would benefit from support for George W. Bush, the party’s presidential candidate. ABCNEWS has projected Bush as the winner in North Carolina.

However, Hunt coasted to a 56 to 43 percent victory in 1996, even though his state chose the Republican, Bob Dole, in the presidential race.

North Dakota

John Hoeven (R) vs. Heidi Heitkamp (D)

ABCNEWS PROJECTION: Incumbent Party (R) Wins

John Hoeven, the former president of the Bank of North Dakota, kept the governor’s office in Republican hands by beating state Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp, who announced in September that she had breast cancer.

Up until that announcement, Hoeven and Heitkamp had fought a close race on the issues — including agriculture policy, economic development, education, prescription drugs and the role of state government.

Heitkamp believed she was only slightly behind Hoeven before her cancer diagnosis was made public. An early-October Minnesota State University poll showed her leading Hoeven 48 to 42 percent, with a 4 percent margin of error.


Gov. Mike Leavitt (R) vs. Bill Orton (D)

ABCNEWS PROJECTION: Incumbent Party (R) Wins

As expected by many observers, Gov. Mark Leavitt has beaten Bill Orton, a former congressman, for re-election to the statehouse, ABCNEWS projects.

Leavitt has been governor since 1992, and won with 75 percent of the vote in his last election.

Orton is a former congressman.

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