gubernatorial elections

October 3, 2022

The midterms are only a month away, and all eyes are on Congress, where Democrats are battling to maintain control of both the House and the Senate. But a number of consequential contests are unfolding off Capitol Hill, too — gubernatorial match-ups, namely — and you won't want to miss a minute of 'em. To help catch you up, here is a look at where a few of the biggest gubernatorial races stand: Texas: Abbott v. O'Rourke Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) was initially favored to prevail against challenger Beto O'Rourke … and it seems he still is. Though his advantage has narrowed since the beginning of the year (per reporting from FiveThirtyEight), a Quinnipiac University poll released Sept. 28 estimates Abbott with a 7-point lead over his Democratic opponent. Intraparty support for each candidate is strong: 96 percent of Republicans back Abbott, and 96 percent of Democrats want O'Rourke. Among independents, however, "53 percent support Abbott, while 46 percent support O'Rourke." Further, almost all likely voters surveyed said they've made up their minds as to how they'll vote. "The race for the top job in Austin leans toward Abbott, who has very strong support from white Texans, particularly white men, while O'Rourke has overwhelming appeal among Black voters and strong support among young voters," explained Quinnipiac Polling Analyst Tim Malloy.  Recent polling from the Texas Hispanic Policy Foundation supports Quinnipiac's findings — per its Sept. 25 report, Abbott holds a 7-point lead over O'Rourke. "Abbott enjoys a nearly two-to-one advantage over O 'Rourke among white voters (63 percent to 33 percent) and a 79 percent to 16 percent advantage among Black voters," the foundation detailed. "Support is more equal among Hispanic voters," 53 percent of whom "intend to vote for O'Rourke and 39 percent for Abbott." As of Sept. 30, RealClearPolitics also reported an 8-point polling average in favor of Abbott. For his part, O'Rourke is skeptical of the potentially-bad news: "I take these polls with a grain of salt," the nominee said last Saturday. Later, when asked if he regrets interrupting an Abbott-led press conference in the aftermath of May's Uvalde, Texas, school shooting, O'Rourke said no. "I wanted to fight for those families in Uvalde, for our families across the state. The best time to stop the next school shooting is right now," he explained. Immigration has also taken on newfound significance in the Texas race, after Abbott made headlines busing loads of migrants from the U.S.-Mexico border to Vice President Kamala Harris' residence in Washington, D.C. The governor has been relocating migrants since the spring, but his efforts drew renewed Democratic ire after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) followed his lead. Both governors' stunts were intended to protest the Biden administration's immigration policies. Per the Sept. 28 Quinnipiac poll, 51 percent of likely voters approve of Abbott's relocation efforts, while 47 percent disapprove.  Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,327 likely Texas voters from Sept. 22-26. Results have a margin of error of +/- 2.7 percentage points. The Texas Hispanic Policy Foundation surveyed 1,172 likely Texas voters from Sept. 6-15. Results have a confidence interval of +/- 2.9 percentage points. Pennsylvania: Mastriano v. Shapiro How do you solve a problem like the Republican candidate for Pennsylvania governor, Doug Mastriano? For Democrats, you don't; instead, you spend millions to get him nominated, then pray his extremism sends voters running the other way — toward Democratic nominee Josh Shapiro. And at least for the time being, the left's risky gamble (known as the "pied piper" strategy) appears to be working.  Not only is Shapiro outraising the former President Donald Trump-backed Mastriano eight to one, but "the Pennsylvania attorney general also significantly out-spent his Republican opponent in the last few months, using about $27.9 million of his massive war chest compared to Mastriano's less than $1 million in expenditures," The Hill writes. While Shapiro has roughly $11 million left to play with in the weeks leading up to Nov. 8, Mastriano has just about $2.6 million. Shapiro is also besting Mastriano in the polls, where he's enjoying — as of Sept. 30 — a roughly 10-point lead, according to averages from both FiveThirtyEight and RealClearPolitics. Likewise, in a Muhlenberg College-Morning Call poll released last Thursday, Shapiro was favored 52 percent to 42 percent when voters were asked who they'd pick if the election were held "today." A Sept. 27 Marist poll furthered that narrative: "A plurality of Pennsylvanians (47 percent) has a favorable view of Shapiro while a similar plurality (45 percent) has an unfavorable view of Mastriano." Mastriano's campaign has been marred with scandal and bad press, and he himself has proven a pretty controversial guy. Not only does he believe the 2020 election was stolen from Trump, but he also chartered buses to Washington, D.C., for the "Stop the Steal" rally on Jan. 6, 2021, and dabbled in efforts to overturn President Biden's win. He's been characterized as a Christian nationalist (though he'd disagree with that label), shared a number of tweets featuring the QAnon hashtag, and was once photographed wearing a Confederate soldier uniform. Recently, it was also reported that he once suggested women in violation of his proposed abortion ban should be charged with murder.  As for top issues in the Pennsylvania contest, 40 percent of adults cited inflation as being at the forefront of their minds, per the Marist poll. After that came preserving democracy (29 percent), abortion (16 percent), immigration (7 percent), and health care (7 percent). Most Republicans (56 percent) are concerned about inflation while preserving democracy ranks as the top issue for Democrats. Marist Poll interviewed 1,356 adults (1,242 registered voters, 1,043 of whom definitely plan to vote) from Sept. 19-22. Results for each subset have a margin of error of +/- 3.3, 3.5, and 3.8 percentage points, respectively. Muhlenberg College/Morning Call surveyed 420 likely voters from Sept. 13-16. Results have a margin of error of +/- 6 percent. Georgia: Kemp v. Abrams It's the rematch of a lifetime — or, at the very least, of 2022. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) and voting rights activist Stacey Abrams are at it again after their 2018 battle royale ended in a Kemp victory, much to Abrams' chagrin. Though lacking some of the drama and extremism coloring other gubernatorial contests, the Georgia race is nonetheless one to watch, if only to see how these storied opponents fare.  At the moment, it seems Kemp is in the lead — though the race is tight, per a Sept. 28 Monmouth University poll. According to Monmouth, about half of potential voters say they will definitely (34 percent) or probably (15 percent) vote for Kemp, while 33 and 12 percent said the same of Abrams. That said, "more Georgia voters have definitely ruled out voting for Abrams (46 percent) than say the same about Kemp (37 percent)." Further, though Abrams enjoys a bit more backing among her Democratic base, "her potential support appears to be capped at a lower level than Kemp," said Monmouth University Polling Institute Director Patrick Murray. And though "some election conspiracists may still hold a grudge against Kemp for not stepping in to overturn the 2020 result," Murray continued, " … they'll still vote for him over Abrams." It's also worth noting that the landscape in Georgia is significantly different than it was in 2018. For instance, as highlighted by The Washington Post, certain "anti-Trump fervor" in the state has dissipated; rather, "it's Republicans who are eager to register their displeasure with [Biden's] policies," perhaps bolstering GOP turnout. At the same time, however, Democrats have enjoyed significant victories as of late, including in the 2020 election and the runoffs in early 2021. "Knowing that you can win in a state like Georgia when you've been told that you can't is very motivating for Democrats in the state," senior Abrams campaign adviser Seth Bringman told the Post. As of Sept. 29, the non-partisan Cook Political Report had classified the state's gubernatorial race as "lean Republican." Meanwhile, Abrams is working overtime to address allegations of election denial, as journalists and critics continue to compare her rhetoric immediately following the 2018 race to that of Trump post-2020. In her final speech at the time, Abrams said she could not concede the governorship, levying charges of voter suppression; 10 days later, she officially acknowledged Kemp's victory, but specified her remarks were "not a speech of concession." Now, Abrams is looking to get on the other side of the infamous comments. "I have never denied that I lost. I don't live in the governor's mansion; I would have noticed," she said during a September appearance on The View. "My point was that the access to the election was flawed, and I refuse to concede a system that permits citizens to be denied access. That is very different than someone claiming fraudulent outcome," she recently told the 19th, alluding to Trump. When it comes to issues, cost of living ranked first among likely Georgia voters, while threats to democracy and jobs and the economy placed second and third, respectively, according to a poll conducted for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Among nine total issues, abortion ranked eighth, above COVID-19 and below climate change. The poll also showed Kemp leading Abrams in the general election 50 percent to 42.  The University of Georgia School of Public and International Affairs conducted the poll for AJC, surveying 861 likely general election voters from Sept. 5-16. Results have a margin of error of +/- 3.3 percentage points. The Monmouth University poll was conducted by phone from Sept. 15-19, among 601 registered Georgia voters. Results have a margin of error of +/- 4 percentage points



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