The 11 gubernatorial races this year continue to be shaped by the coronavirus pandemic, with governors becoming unusually influential and high-profile policy figures.
In nine of this year’s 11 races, an incumbent governor is seeking another term: Delaware, Indiana, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Vermont, Washington and West Virginia. The other two – Montana and Utah – have open seats.
In general, the party that currently controls the governorship has an edge at the moment, except in Montana, a red state that currently has a Democratic governor and that we are rating as a pure toss-up. In several of this year’s races, an incumbent’s aggressive efforts to rein in the coronavirus have boosted their electoral prospects, including Republicans Phil Scott in Vermont and Chris Sununu in New Hampshire and Democrat Roy Cooper in North Carolina.
With this update to our gubernatorial ratings – our first since early July – we’ve moved Scott from Likely Republican to Safe Republican, and we’ve moved Sununu from Lean Democratic to Likely Democratic. In Indiana, we’re moving Gov. Eric Holcomb from Safe Republican to Likely Republican, while in Washington state, we’ve shifted Gov. Jay Inslee from Likely Democratic to Safe Democratic.
Beyond Montana, we see only two other seats as fully competitive between the parties: the Democratic-held seat in North Carolina, which we rate Lean Democratic, and the Republican-held seat in Missouri, which we rate Lean Republican.
Because the GOP currently controls 26 seats nationally and the Democrats control 24, the Democrats would need to hold on to their seats in Montana and North Carolina and flip Missouri to pull even with the Republicans at 25 seats. That’s possible, but it’s equally possible that the GOP could expand their lead slightly.
Our ratings are based on reporting with political observers in the