While the sheer scale of Republican gains four years ago offers Democrats a wealth of opportunities to win, the political environment appears to be tilting again in the Republicans’ direction.
The recession that doomed Democrats in 2010 has shifted into a recovery, driving down jobless rates and bolstering Republican incumbents. At the same time, President Obama’s approval ratings have fallen even in states that he won in 2012.
And campaign money is gushing into national Republican groups that focus on state capitals, including the Republican Governors Association, whose chairman, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, has set fund-raising records for the group even under the glare of multiple state and federal investigations. The association raised $100 million during the 18 months ending in June, dwarfing the amount it amassed for 2010, and had $70 million in cash at the beginning of July. The chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, Gov. Peter Shumlin of Vermont, said his group would be outraised by about two to one.
It is not only in governors’ races where Republicans are building an advantage: The Republican State Leadership Committee, a Washington-based group that supports the party’s candidates for state offices, is also well ahead of its 2010 fund-raising pace.
Matt Walter, the committee’s president, said it had raised more than $24 million through June, close to twice as much as it had raised by the same point in the 2010 election cycle, when his party took control of 21 state legislative bodies.