Vote sign near polling place
Carolina Journal photo by Mitch Kokai

GOP as the party of governors

You wouldn’t know it by looking at North Carolina, but the Republican Party has fared well in recent elections for governor nationwide. Dan McLaughlin offers details at National Review Online.

One of the narratives you hear thrown around any time Republicans are out of the White House (which they aren’t even, yet) is that the party is somehow confined to a narrow region or slice of the electorate, is incapable of governing, relies on gerrymandered districts, etc. But when you look at how Americans elect governors, it is obvious that the party remains competitive almost everywhere in the country — indeed, in more places than Democrats. Consider: When was the last time your state elected a Republican governor? For a lot of the country, the answer is pretty recently. …

… More than half of the states in the country have elected Republican governors just since 2018. Forty states have elected a Republican governor at least once since Barack Obama was elected president, 45 since 2006. Republicans have been shut out of just three states (Delaware and the two Pacific Northwest states) since 2002. Washington and Delaware have undoubtedly been helped in their long Republican droughts by electing governors in presidential years, although in 2004, Democrats won the race by 129 votes only after a protracted recount fight that remains controversial. By contrast, twelve states have been out of the Democrats’ reach since the last century, including two of the three largest states in the Union, Texas and Florida. South Dakota hasn’t elected a Democratic governor since 1974. True, a few of the really long Democratic droughts (Utah, North Dakota, Indiana) also come in states that choose their governors in presidential-election years. At almost any period of years you can pick, Republicans can say they have won governorships in more states. …

… One lesson is that, for all his personal baggage, Donald Trump was a lot less damaging to his party’s brand locally than was Barack Obama.

Mitch Kokai / Senior Political Analyst

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. He joined JLF in December 2005 as director of communications. That followed more than four years as chie...