Democrats will find themselves leaving a dismal 2016 election facing yet another daunting one in 2018. Democrats lost states on the presidential level in 2016 that they had not lost for decades, and Wisconsin’s Ron Johnson became the first Republican Senator reelected in a presidential year in Wisconsin since 1980.
2018 doesn’t look much better. Democrats have almost no opportunities to go on the offensive in Senate races, and Republicans are well-positioned in almost every governor’s race in initial ratings. In fact, every Republican governor running for reelection in 2018 is ranked as at least a slight favorite by the Cook Political Report. Illinois’s Bruce Rauner, Wisconsin’s Scott Walker, and New Hampshire’s Chris Sununu all have their races ranked as “Lean R,” and they are some of the worst-positioned Republican incumbents. Maryland’s Larry Hogan, Arizona’s Doug Ducey, Massachusetts’s Charlie Baker, and Vermont’s Phil Scott are all ranked as “Likely R.” Donald Trump was crushed in three of these four states, but their governors are incredibly popular. Hogan is in fact the most popular governor in the country and the most popular governor in Maryland history.
It is always difficult to make predictions two years out from an election, but it is indisputable that these governors are better-positioned at the present moment than their potential opponents.
Only time will tell if these predictions turn out to be even remotely accurate.