Friday, September 24, 2010

Pennsylvania Governor Race

Race of the Day

Pennsylvania Governor

September 24, 2010
39 Days Until Election Day

Status: Democrat Open
2008 Presidential Result: Blue State (East)

Outlook: Likely Republican

After eight years, a noted Philadelphian is term limited as Governor of Pennsylvania, and the two candidates running to succeed him are both from the Pittsburgh area. While the two men may have similar sports rooting interests, one candidate seems to have a lot more in common with the Steelers and the Penguins, while the other may face as much of a challenge as the Pirates will once again next season.

One of the interesting features of Keystone State politics, which may or may not be simply a coincidence, is the long trend of the office switching parties every eight years. Pennsylvania Governors never seem to lose reelection, but when they are term limited, the candidate of their party goes down to defeat to the other party. Going all the way back to Democrat Governor Ed Rendell's comfortable 2006 reelection, it appeared that the GOP would be on schedule to win it back in 2010.

Both of the candidates to succeed Rendell faced primary challenges this year. The Republican nominee, state Attorney General Tom Corbett, had a somewhat easier path, after his opponent Jim Gerlach, decided to run for reelection to Congress instead. The party quickly rallied behind Corbett, though he faced a contest against a conservative State Representative. In the May primary, Corbett prevailed by more than a 2-1 margin.

The Democrats' nominee is Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato who won a four way primary by an impressive twenty point spread. His opponents included a statewide elected official, an African-American State Senator, and a former Congressman who had previously been nominated by the party for the U.S. Senate. Onorato entered the general election as an underdog, but based on the strong success Democrats have had in Pennsylvania in the past few election cycles, it was considered a race to keep an eye on.

Since polling for the general election began, Corbett's lead over his opponent has consistently been at about 10 percent. While a very recent CNN/Time poll shows the Republican ahead by 8 points, a Quinnipiac University poll shows Corbett ahead by as much as 15. In every survey though, Corbett now appears to be over the 50 percent mark, making him a strong favorite. The state's previously impressive Democrat infrastructure may be content to concede this race in favor of trying to salvage a U.S. Senate seat and the several vulnerable Democrat U.S. House members.

If Corbett is victorious in November, many prominent Democrats may be willing to take a pass on facing him in 2014, as trends would have him heavily favored to win a second term in the state. For other Pennsylvania Republicans though who want to be Governor one day, that same trend might have them needing to wait all the way until 2026.

Corbett campaign link:

2010 Governor races predicted thus far: 7 D, 21 R
Predicted Gubernatorial totals thus far: 14 D, 27 R