(CNN) — Republicans currently hold a 29-21 edge in the nation’s 50 governorships. But that advantage puts the GOP on the defensive this year, as Republicans prepare to defend 22 governorships in November compared to only 14 for Democrats.
Democrats can also take solace from the fact that races for governor are generally not closely tied to a party’s political fortunes in Washington. Democratic gubernatorial candidates have less to fear from voter exhaustion with President Barack Obama than their counterparts in Senate and House races.
CNN’s current 2014 analysis shows that half of this year’s 36 races for governor could be competitive. Incumbent Republican governors are in tossup races in five states: Florida, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Incumbent Republicans in four more states – Georgia, Iowa, New Mexico and South Carolina – appear more secure, but could end up in tighter races by Election Day.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett, also a Republican, faces an uphill climb in his fight for re-election this fall.
The race for Arizona’s governorship, now held by retiring Republican Jan Brewer, could potentially prove competitive as well. And while the GOP should end up on top in bright red Texas, that race is likely to create a lot of sparks with Democratic state Sen. Wendy Davis – previously at the epicenter of an abortion-related media storm – as her party’s nominee.
On the Democratic side, there are three governorships currently considered tossups: Connecticut, Illinois and Arkansas, where incumbent Gov. Mike Beebe can’t run again. If the GOP gets lucky, races for governorships now held by Democrats could also potentially become more competitive in Colorado, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
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