With the end of April coming up and the Ohio and Indiana primaries right in front of us as well, I felt it was a good time to update our Senate and Gubernatorial ratings. We have one change in our Senate ratings and three in our gubernatorial ratings, all in favor of Republicans.
The GOP sees its targets expand as the Environment Worsens for Democrats
We moved one Democratic held senate seat on the board from Safe Democratic:
- Washington – Patty Murray (D): Safe Democratic to Likely Democratic
Now, before folks start yelling at us, here’s my reasoning. It’s become increasingly clear that Republicans think they can make some noise in Washington this cycle. And that doesn’t come without some credence to that idea. Republicans have united around Tiffany Smiley, a nurse from Pasco, Washington, as the nominee. Smiley has used her status as the chosen nominee well, fundraising well for a first time candidate, raising 1.65 million in the first quarter, a much better than expected number, especially for a Republican in Washington. Moreover, our friends at Sabato’s Crystal Ball have already moved this race to Likely Democratic.
In short: the Washington Senate race is one worth watching at this point.
We have three shifts in our gubernatorial ratings, all favoring the GOP:
- Maine – Janet Mills (D): Leans Democratic to Tossup
- New Hampshire – Chris Sununu (R): Likely Republican to Safe Republican
- Oregon – Open (D) Likely Democratic to Leans Democratic
Alright, let’s start with the easy one. Since we first introduced these ratings, we didn’t know what Chris Sununu was going to do in 2022. Now we know he’s running for re-election as a still popular Governor. Sununu will almost certainly be re-elected, as he is unlikely to be challenged by a strong Democratic candidate. As long as New Hampshire Republicans don’t pull a stupid and primary him, this is a Governor’s mansion that will stay with the GOP.
Now the two more controversial ones. In Maine, we are shifting that race from Leans Democratic to Tossup. The race is already set between current governor Janet Mills and former governor Paul LePage. This sets up a headliner race in one of America’s northernmost states, with two candidates with strengths that could put them over the line. It should also be said that LePage, with all his faults, should not be underestimated. He is stronger than average Maine Republicans in the Northern part of the state and he will get those voters out. The question is if LePage can make himself tolerable enough to the Portland suburbs. However, at this moment we see this race as a dead heat between the two, and one that may end up being one of the closest races in the nation in 2022.
Finally we’re moving the Oregon gubernatorial race from Likely Democratic to Leans Democratic. And no, it is not just because of recent polling. There have been signs from the start of this cycle that this was going to be a close race, like it was back in 2010. Republicans came just short that time, with it now being 40 years since Republicans last held the Governors mansion in the Beaver State.
This cycle may have the environment to finally end that streak. First, Oregon Democrats have to deal with a wide open field and an unpopular incumbent. Governor Kate Brown has been one of the most unpopular governors in the last two years of her term, and that is a rock that candidates have to wear. The Oregon GOP also seems to be circling around Christine Drazan, the former House Minority Leader as their candidate. With former Democrat and now Independent Betsy Johnson also running, we feel that this race is going to be a close one and we feel confident in moving it to Leans Democratic.