DemDaily: 2024 Governors Races: The Landscape

January 17, 2024

In addition to the presidential election, US Senate and House contests, and local races, there are gubernatorial elections up in 11 states and two territories up in 2024.

As a state's highest-ranking elected official, Governors are administrators of their state, responsible for dictating policy and overseeing the budget, agencies, national guard and its executive branch. The scope of gubernatorial power varies from state-to-state, most significantly with the level of veto authority.

Politically, governors are more independent -- in practice and in the eyes of the voters. 10 states have split partisan control between legislative chambers and the governor's mansion.

Of the 50 US states, Democrats hold 23 gubernatorial seats to Republicans' 27. Of the five US territories, four are held by Democrats and one by an Independent.

The Landscape
While the 2020 presidential election marked a number of historic shifts in voter performance, the status of the 11 gubernatorial elections up that year remained relatively unchanged. One state, Montana, flipped political control - increasing Republicans' share of the nation's governorships to 27.

In the two 2021 gubernatorial elections, incumbent Democratic Governor Phil Murphy narrowly won reelection, while Democrats lost the open Virginia seat vacated by term-limited Governor Ralph Northam to Republican Glenn Youngkin.

In the 36 2022 gubernatorial elections, Democrats defended 16 seats (three open) and Republicans defended 20 (5 open). Democrats flipped Maryland, Massachusetts and Arizona, and Republicans flipped Nevada, bringing the national total to 24 Democratic and 26 Republican governors.

Of the three 2023 contests, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear, a Democrat in an otherwise reliably red state, was easily reelected. Democrats lost Louisiana, held for two terms by moderate John Bel Edwards (D), and in Mississippi, Republican Governor Tate Reeves was reelected.

Terms: Governors serve four years in all but two states, Vermont and New Hampshire, where they serve two years. Virginia is the only state to limit its governor to one term.

The 2024 Governors Races
Of the 11 gubernatorial elections up in 2024, Republicans are defending eight seats, including four open seats in Indiana, Missouri, New Hampshire and West Virginia.

The top targeted seat is New Hampshire -- a state Joe Biden won by 52.71% -- where Republican Governor Chris Sununu is retiring.

Democrats are defending three seats, all open. In Delaware incumbent John Carney is term-limited and in Washington state three-term Governor Jay Inslee is retiring.

Democrats' most vulnerable seat is North Carolina, which Trump won by less than 3% in 2020, and where incumbent Roy Cooper (D) is term-limited.

Gubernatorial elections will also be held in the territories of American Samoa and Puerto Rico.

DemList will keep you informed.

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Kimberly Scott

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Sources: Ballotpedia, Cook Political Report, Inside Election, Sabato's Crystal Ball, Decision Desk, SOSs

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