A new round of surveys in states electing governors this November show Democrats poised to pick up seats and gain some ground on Republicans in governors’ mansions.
Democrats were initially uncertain about their chances to make strides at the gubernatorial level, given the number of conservative states — Missouri, West Virginia and Montana among them — the party had to defend. But the recent polls have given them a reason to be more optimistic.
“We’re in a map right now where we’re pleased, on a race-by-race basis, at how this looks,” said Jared Leopold, a spokesman for the Democratic Governors Association. “Everyone expected that 2016 would be a difficult cycle for Democrats because we were defending more.”Monica Davey and Michael D. Shear report at The New York Times:
[W]ith Donald J. Trump’s stumbles raising alarms for Republicans down the ballot, Democrats hope that a resounding win at the presidential level will translate to significant gains in capitals in Minnesota, Colorado, Nevada, New Hampshire and beyond. President Obama, who has endured gridlock in Washington as Republicans in the states took direct aim at his vision and legacy, is stepping in to assist more than 150 state legislative candidates, by far his biggest effort to bolster local Democrats since he took office.
“You are going to see a level of engagement down to the state representative level that I don’t think you’ve seen too many presidents engage in,” said David Simas, the director of the White House’s Office of Political Strategy and Outreach.
Matt Walter, the president of the Republican State Leadership Committee, acknowledged that his party was facing a challenge. “When you’re at an all-time-high number in the legislatures, naturally you have a lot more ground to defend,” he said.
Democrats hope Mr. Obama’s involvement, which began in earnest last week, broadens their chances. Dozens of candidates for state posts were getting word of the support only last week. In Minnesota, Mr. Obama is backing Jamie Becker-Finn in her campaign for a different State House seat. José Javier Rodríguez, a state representative in Florida, hopes Mr. Obama can help him move to the State Senate. And in Georgia, Mr. Obama recorded an automated telephone call to support keeping Kimberly Alexander in the State House seat she won in 2012.
“This is Barack Obama, urging you to get to the polls to vote for the candidate who has my back, and yours: Kimberly Alexander,” he says in the call. “Thanks. Go vote!”