The chart above is from a National Journal article, The 15 Governorships Most Likely to Flip. In it, Steven Shepard and Karyn Bruggeman rank each state by the likelihood of its switching from one party to the other. The top three states (Pennsylvania, Maine, and Florida) are all currently in Republican hands. But of the 15 governorships, 9 are Republicans. So unlike the United States Senate, where the Republicans have a big advantage because roughly twice as many Democrats are up for re-election as Republicans, when it comes to governor, the Democrats have a substantial advantage.
But if that isn’t enough good news for you, Curtis Gans wrote an article over at the Washington Monthly magazine, Midterm Signals and Noise. In it, he argues that many of the reasons that people think that the Republicans are going to do well in the 2014 elections are nothing but noise. I agree. One of the best examples of this is the supposed sixth-year curse. This is the observation that two-term presidents’ parties always lose big in the sixth-year elections. Sean Trende wrote about this last year, and he concluded that for Obama, 2010 already did most of the damage and there wasn’t much more that could be done in 2014.
Still, there are two issues about the upcoming elections that probably will be important. First, as I briefly mentioned above, the Senate landscape looks bad. The base Senate elections have 13 Republicans and 20 Democrats. But with the special elections and taking into account competitive races, it is even worse. The other issue is the tendency for Democratic leaning voters to not vote as much in off-presidential-election years. Both those issues are very much concerns.
There is nothing that can be done about the difficult Senate terrain, but the Democratic Party is making a special effort to make the voter demographics in 2014 look like they did in 2012. As I’ve argued for a long time, the key to Democratic success is always to get as many people voting as possible. If democracy works, we win because the people have a well established liberal bias.
Gans goes on to provide a lot of information about why we Democrats shouldn’t feel so gloomy about 2014. If you want to feel better, go and read the article. Personally, I don’t accept most of it. In the long run he’s right. But for 2014, I don’t think there is going to be any awakening. The fact remains that we have a media establishment that is determined to create balance, regardless of how far out on a ledge the Republicans get. The good news from my perspective is just that the Democratic Party is putting a lot of money into getting out the vote. If we could get Democratic turnout in off years to what it is in on years, not only would the Republican Party be forced to liberalize, so would the Democratic Party.