How Dems Can Win a Majority Governors? Simple, Win on the Home Turf

Congratulations to all in New Jersey and Virginia. You fought hard, you stuck by progressive principles, you won and you deserve it. It was a good day to be a part of the party of the people. Still, one sad fact does remain: There are 28 GOP governors but only 22 Democrat ones. Of course there are reasons to think that Dem numbers will improve in this area. Still, I can’t help but notice that the reason for Dems being in the minority position on governors is not because we can’t appeal to red states: It’s that we can’t seem to appeal to blue ones.

The Republicans are much better nailing down their base states and regions than we are.

In the South, Republican governors outnumber Dems 8-4. This is not unexpected, and Dems can take comfort from the fact that states as solid red as Wyoming, Kansas, Tennessee, and Oklahoma have Dem governors, as do important swing states like Arizona, New Mexico, Wisconsin, West Virginia, and Michigan.

But look at the blue states: Of the 19 states (not counting Washington DC) that Kerry won, nine have Republican governors.

What gives? Well, in the West the GOP governors outnumber Dems 7-6. This score would be a Democrat lead of 8-5 if the deep blue states of Hawaii and California had Democrat governors.

In the Midwest there is a 7-7 tie. This would be a Democrat lead of 8-6 if Minnesota (which has voted Democrat in 16 of the last 19 presidential elections) had a Democrat governor. And if Missouri and/or Ohio are added to the mix, we’re talking about a real good political infrastructure in the Midwest- an infrastructure that did not exist for Kerry in 2004.

Finally, in my home region of the NorthEast, a region that gave all of its electoral votes to John Kerry, there are more GOP governors than Dem ones. Not counting DC and its Democratic mayor, there is a 6-5 GOP advantage here in the NorthEast.

What if the states of Vermont, Massachusetts, New York, and Maryland (i.e. the home states of Howard Dean, John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, and yours truly respectively) had Democratic governors? Not only would there be a 9-2 Dem governor advantage here, but the Democrats would control a majority of the nation’s governor seats for the first time since 1994.

We know Democrats can win governorships in red and purple states. Now the question is: How can Dems increase their number in the blue ones? And how did we get to the point where the GOP was winning on our home turf? If any blue staters with Republican governors want to explain how that happened it would be most appreciated.

Note to Marylanders: Hate to sound harsh, but if you did not vote in 2002 you were foolish. Robert Kennedy’s biological daughter vs. Newt Gingrich’s ideological son. This is not exactly what I would call a difficult choice. Sure there were justifiable complaints with the actions of the Glendening Administration and the campaign of Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend. Still, the background of and issue stances of the candidates should have inspired Democrats to come out in droves.

For 2006, pay attention to Baltimore County (not to be confused with Baltimore City). Baltimore County voted for John Kerry in 2004 52%-47%, but voted to elect Bobby Haircut 59%-41% in 2002. Of course Dems should be proud liberals, but remember the 11th commandment: Thou shalt not anger or upset the folks in Baltimore County. They’re good folks, they’re Oriole fans, and they are the swing county (especially the folks living in the closer in suburbs).

Oops, almost forgot the waiver: The Democratic Daily realizes the importance of turning out the Democratic vote and running up big Democratic margins in the DC suburbs of Montgomery County. However, in the event a Democratic campaigner even hints to non-Montgomery County Marylanders that Montgomery County is superior, The Democratic Daily cannot be held responsible for any verbal assaults that may ensue from this contributor.

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About Nick

Teacher of Social Studies. Born in the 1970s. History major, music minor. Big Baseball fan. Economic progressive.
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20 Responses to How Dems Can Win a Majority Governors? Simple, Win on the Home Turf

  1. I was really shocked in 2002 when Ehrlich beat Kathleen Kennedy Townsend. πŸ™

    I believe I’ve seen polls indicating that for Sarbane’s Senate seat, if Cardin wins the Dem primary, he’s expected to kick Steele’s butt at least. πŸ™‚

  2. NativeTexan4Kerry says:

    well i believe Massachusetts and New York will get Democratic governors next year πŸ™‚

  3. John says:

    Being from Ohio, we are working hard to get Ted Strickland elected. Bob Taft(R) are current Gov. has the lowest approval rating in the history of this state. Ohio is primed to go blue next year.

  4. John,

    Yeah isn’t Taft’s approval rating in the 20’s or maybe even teens? Probably one of the lowest approval ratings of any politician ever. πŸ™‚

    You guys really have to clean house state wide in ’06. The GOP should get killed next year in OH(coin-gate etc etc) or you guys have even more serious problems there than I thought after the 2004 election.
    BTW, I was in Youngstown trying to help GOTV for JK for the 4 days leading up to the ’04 election. Didn’t help enough obviously… πŸ™


    Yeah I don’t think Romney is really too popular in MA at the moment. I just hope he keeps trying to appeal to the GOP drooler base(and bashing MA) for his idiotic Presidential hopes. I can’t believe that guy actually thinks he has a chance in hell of winning the GOP Presidential primary. LOL! He’s not reality based at all it seems…

    I think NY is a “slam dunk” but not a Tenet one, for real. πŸ™‚ I don’t see anyone even coimng close to beating Eliot Spitzer. He’s the man!

  5. BlueWashington says:


    I was watching Washington Week (a fine program, BTW) and John Harwood of the WallStreet Journal said something very interesting about the DEMs stratage for the House in the midterms next year.
    Shrubs approval ratings in the Northeast of the country are disastrous (Hardwood actually gave a huge negitive number). The DEMs will go hard after every GOP seat in that region (Hardwood cited the same example the GOP used in 1994 when they went hard after every DEM seat in the South). If that is the plan (or part of the plan), I like it.

  6. So there’s no rest for the weary and wicked it seems my friends…

    Dave from Princeton

    Have you recovered yet?

  7. Hi Pamela,

    Yep, just enjoying that we got him elected and that now I can rest for a little bit before starting on the ’06 battles.

    Now I’m waiting to see who Corzine is going to appoint to fill his seat.

    Though I’d hate to lose him as my Congressman, my preference would be Rush Holt. I think he’d be a great Senator and could likely fight off a challenge by our ex Gov Kean’s son, who has already announced he’s running in 2006 against the Dem Senator Corzine will appoint.

    There have been 3 other congressman who’ve been heavily “campaigning” for Corzine’s seat. Most people have felt he would appoint one of those three.

    Acting Governor Cody has become very popular here recently. There’s been some talk that Corzine might pick him for that reason and it would also mean he doesn’t have to choose one congressman and tick off the others. However, Cody has said he’s not even sure if he would want a Senate seat.

    BTW, read something interesting concerning Corzine’s possible pick today…

    I don’t know anything about her but appointing an African American woman to fill his Senate seat could be interesting:

    ‘While various men jockey to replace him in the U.S. Senate, Governor-elect Jon Corzine said yesterday he very well could appoint a woman to fill his seat, a move that would prove historic.

    Corzine yesterday mentioned state Sen. Nia Gill, D-Montclair, an appointment that would allow him to play a role in naming the first woman and minority from New Jersey to the U.S. Senate.

    He called Gill an “extraordinarily capable woman.” ‘

  8. Dave from Princeton

    You read my mind… I was wondering about who he was going to appoint. Sounds interesting – Gill. let’s hope. That would be huge.

  9. John says:

    Dave from Princeton

    I live in Youngstown, I am working with about 14 people in and around Youngstown who are keeping John Kerrys name in front of the community. We are also workning very hard to change the red to blue all over the state. John Kerry is very popular here in Youngstown, in fact most want him to run again in 08.

  10. Nick says:


    They want Kerry to run again? ALLLLL RIGHT. Do they give any reason for specifically wanting Kerry to run again? I don’t mean to sound like a pessemist, but do they really want Kerry per se, or have they just soured on Bush so much that they think ANYBODY would be better than ShrubCo.?
    Of course it makes sense for anybody to want Kerry to run again, I just want to make sure these guys are pro-Kerry and not just anti-Bush.

  11. Nick says:


    yeah, it was a real shocker, but dems had controlled the MD. governorship since the late 1960s. I guess the GOP was due for a victory.
    We just didn’t get the vote out in Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties or Baltimore City. Baltimore County voted for the hometown boy Ehrlich- a shift we have to reverse.
    It’s a real role reversal from the 1990s. Back then all the states bordering Maryland except Delaware had GOP governors while MD. had a Democrat. Now all the states bordering MD. (even GOP Virginia) have Dems for guv’s while we are stuck with aguy who won’t even try to limit the increases in the price of gas. Even Jeb Bush investigated price fixing in Florida.

  12. That’s great to hear John!

    I may have run into you while I was there. Met a lot of real good folks in Youngstown. I spent most of the time making phone calls either at the Youngstown HQ or across the street at the law firm we were also phone banking from. Really liked the soup/sandwich coffee shop down the block and the owner, where Kerry volunteers could get free food thanks to that wonderful anonymous woman from Portland OR(if memory serves me?) who was picking up the tab and also having food regularly sent to HQ too. Must have cost her a fortune… Along with some great locals who dropped food off they’d prepared every day.

    Spent election day as a poll watcher at a polling location at a Catholic church, don’t remember the precinct or address now…

    I was really shocked at the devastated economy there. I knew things had gotten bad in OH but… While in downtown Youngstown over the weekend I was really surprised that there was no traffic at all. At first I just assumed it must be because it was the weekend. Though on Monday I realized that it wasn’t just because of the weekend, many businesses were now just nonexistant…

    I think you guys are going to kick butt there in ’06!

    Keep the faith…

  13. Nick says:


    If Cardin is the nominee, he’ll win. Some DC commentators have this crazy notion that blacks are just looking for an excuse to vote GOP, and that being African-AMerican, Steele can appeal to African-Americans. Its frankly a pretty elitist view if you ask me- these folks act like blacks don’t care about issues and will vote for someone on the basis of the color of his or her skin.
    Of course in 1992 Barbara Mikulski soundly defeated Alan Keyes (yep, the guy who ran against Obama in 2004) with storng support from Maryland blacks.
    There’s an attempt by some here to make former NAACP Chairman Kweisi Mfume the nominee (to compete for black votes).
    Mfume is way behind in raising money behind Cardin, but Mfume’s campaign manager wants to use the line that voting for Mfume is a vote against the Iraq War. Which is kinda weird given the fact that Cardin didn’t even vote for the IWR. Mfume’s camapign manager? Joe Trippi from the Dean campaign.

  14. John says:


    I asure you people in Youngstown Love John Kerry, They want him to run bad. Most say that he is there choice in 08 should he run.

  15. Nick says:

    Thanks John,
    Your info. is VERY much appreciated.

  16. Nick,

    Joe Trippi, oh great! I blame the primary campaign he ran, as much if not more than the “liberal” MSM, for Kerry’s loss to Bush. Running a Rovian style primary campaign against a fellow Dem is not the way to get Democrats elected and also helps set the MSM “conventional wisdom”, which it did for ’04, as well as damaging the party as a whole.

    I assume he’ll run the same scorched earth campaign in MD, making sure if his candidate doesn’t win the primary, his campaign will have severely damaged the eventual Dem candidate in the general election. What an ass…

    BTW, I met Gov Dean a week ago when he was here for Corzine. I was going to tell him he really needs to do something about the little monsters he created during his Presidential run. But since he was good enough to come here for Corzine and local pols, had a lot of fans there and I was one of the people who got a special meet and greet at the end, I decided it wasn’t the time and that I’d just be nice, hold my tongue for once, shake his hand and thank him for coming. I’m always so restrained and hide my feelings well. πŸ˜‰

    Alan Keyes, LOL! I think he should run for something every election. My kid too. Mike really gets a kick out him since Keyes is truly certifiably insane. What a nut case. I think he’s a great representative of the GOP. πŸ™‚

  17. Nick says:


    Yeah, Trippi was a real pain wasn’t he? I think you did the right thing holding your tongue, but I can’t blame you in the least for not wanting to. I know I would have a few things to say to Dean.
    About Keyes: LOL, yep he really is THE one who should represent the GOP. I can see it now: the GOP with all the smoke and mirrors removed looks like? Alan Keyes.
    I can’t believe I’m a half hour’s drive to his hometown in Gaithersburg MD. You know who was Keyes’roomate was in college? William Kristol. And I thought some of my college roomates were weird.

  18. “You know who was Keyes’roomate was in college? William Kristol. And I thought some of my college roomates were weird.”


  19. Nick says:


    If the NorthEast Plan is really existent I’m all for it.
    The good news for Democrats is that there are enough seats in the NE to pickup to really close the gap in the House to non-existence. As stated in the post, there are enough possibilities for Dem pickup of governors to give Dems a majority of governors.
    In contrast, the GOP in 1994 had to run up big totals in the conservative South AND also do well in swing and blue states to get their majorities in Congress and governors. So in a sense we are in better shape than the GOP was in 1993-94.

  20. Teresa says:

    The campaign sweep Kerry took through middle America brought huge benefits to the Democratic Party and they are just seeing the effects and reaping.

    The people there fell in love with him and the extent was not generally known. People who wouldn’t have thought they would like and want to follow a Dem. He loves nature and the country, so everyone benefited when he came through.

    He is good with people. Easily liked, and comes across as genuine. These are real American values and the people respond to it. And they remember him. Want him back.

    I think the Democratic Party will fare quite well.