As Washington focuses on the fate of the “Cromnibus” (the Omnibus Appropriations Bill for nearly all of the federal government plus a two-month CR for the Department of Homeland Security), the less nationally noted but still locally dramatic biennial phenomenon of gubernatorial transitions is underway.
The 2014 cycle (with 36 gubernatorial elections) produced just eleven new governors. Four are Republicans succeeding Democrats (in Arkansaas, Illinois, Massachusetts and Maryland), one is a Democrat succeeding a Republican (in Pennsylvania), one is an independent succeeding a Republican (in Alaska), and the other five are intraparty transitions (in Arizona, Hawaii, Nebraska, Rhode Island and Texas). That’s a dramatically lower number than in 2010 (twenty-six new governors).
Perhaps not coincidentally, 2014’s close races produced an unusually high number of governors elected without a majority of the vote: ten (five Democrats, four Republicans and one independent). A lot of incumbents held on, but barely.