We at CNalysis are best known for our state legislative forecasts and coverage. What our readers may not also know, based on analysis of our traffic, is that we predict state row officers, too! Yes, Attorneys General, Secretaries of State, Treasurers, and more. There aren’t a whole lot up for grabs in the 2020 cycle, and even fewer are competitive, but nevertheless we are casting a prediction for each one.
Only seven states have at least one competitive state row officer or gubernatorial race: Missouri, Montana, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, North Carolina, Washington, and Oregon. There are, of course, other state row officer races in states not listed, but they are uncompetitive so we will not be covering them in this piece.
Missouri only has one competitive statewide election, and that is the gubernatorial race. We have had this race as Lean R for a while and are keeping it in as such our final ratings. The only remaining statewide Democrat, Auditor Nicole Galloway, is running against incumbent Governor Mike Parson (R), who became Governor when former Governor Eric Greitens (R) resigned after a personal scandal. Galloway won in 2018 in the Auditor race, though she had weak competition. Going up against an incumbent Governor in a Republican-leaning state that is trending away from Democrats is an uphill battle. It will very likely be a single-digit race, but a Galloway victory would certainly be an upset.
Another Republican-leaning state where Democrats are competitive is Montana, where there is not only a competitive race for the US Senate and US House, but competitive races for Governor, Secretary of State, Attorney General, Auditor and Superintendent of Public Instruction. These races are highly competitive, with the main reason why for most is that an incumbent is not seeking re-election. Only in the US Senate and Superintendent of Public Instruction race is there an incumbent running.
Each of the state row officer races, as well as the gubernatorial race, is rated as Tilt R in our forecast. Democrats are highly competitive in Montana despite its Republican lean, but we think Republicans will scrape by in each race. However, it would not be surprising if Democrats won at least one of these races as well as either the race for US Senate or US House, which are currently Toss-Ups in our forecast. We will decide which column to move them into tomorrow in our final federal forecasts.
Pennsylvania used to have three competitive statewide elections, but polling has shown that Democrats have comfortable margins in the races for Treasurer and Attorney General, where two Democratic incumbents are running for re-election. Although the open race for Auditor General is competitive, we still have the race as Lean Democratic in our final forecast given the polling results. Democrat Nina Ahmad is running against Republican Timothy DeFoor.
West Virginia, one of the most Republican-friendly states in the nation in presidential races, still has an incredibly strong state Democratic Party. They have two statewide officeholders: Senator Joe Manchin, who was narrowly re-elected in 2018, and Treasurer John Perdue, who we see as a very slight favorite to win re-election given polling of the race as well as a money and incumbency advantage for Perdue.
West Virginia Republicans find themselves defending three competitive statewide races: the Gubernatorial, Secretary of State and Attorney General elections are all competitive in our final ratings. Party-switching incumbent Jim Justice (R) is a heavy favorite in his re-election, with our final rating for his race being Likely R.
Attorney General Patrick Morrissey (R) is also in the same boat as Jim Justice, as he is a heavy favorite in his re-election bid. Morrissey, who narrowly lost to Joe Manchin in the 2018 Senate race, is up in polling and finds himself comfortable in the money race.
The best pickup opportunity for the West Virginia Democrats would be in the Secretary of State race, where former Secretary of State Natalie Tennant (D), who narrowly lost re-election in 2016, is making a comeback bid against Mac Warner (R), who she lost to. We’re expecting a tight race, but believe that Warner will still come out top– but there’s plenty of room for an upset in a race like this.
North Carolina has a lot of competitive races this year. 8 competitive state row officer races, a barely competitive gubernatorial race, a highly competitive US Senate race and a highly competitive race in the Electoral College. There are long ballots in North Carolina this year, and the residents of the state have a very influential vote in almost each one due to the high amount of competitive races.
We still see incumbent Governor Roy Cooper (D) as the heavy favorite in his re-election bid and believe he will win anywhere from 9 to 14 points. We suspect that his coattails will pull Democrats over the line in several state row officer races, but only narrowly. The races Lieutenant Governor, Commissioner of Insurance, Superintendent of Public Instruction, and Commissioner of Labor were all rated as Toss-Up in our forecast for most of the year, but we are moving each of these races to Tilt Democrat, which would flip the offices toward the Democrats.
We are also moving the races for Treasurer and Commissioner of Agriculture from Lean Republican to Tilt Republican, as we believe these races will be close and there is room for an upset for the Democratic candidates. However, they face a slightly uphill climb as they are running against thoroughly ingrained incumbents.
There are also two Democratic incumbents in competitive races in the elections for Secretary of State and Attorney General. We rate the Secretary of State race as Likely Democrat and the Attorney General race as Lean Democrat.
One thing is for certain: there’s a lot of fierce competition in the state row officers in North Carolina.
Despite Washington being a reliably blue state in presidential elections, it actually has two competitive statewide elections this year. Two Republican incumbents are running for re-election: Kim Wyman, Secretary of State, and Duane Davidson, Treasurer. Wyman’s 2016 re-election was a landslide for a Republican by Washington standards, winning by 9 and a half points. Given that 2020 will be a more friendly year for Democrats, she’s very likely to have a closer race. We see her as a slight favorite and have the race as Tilt Republican in our ratings, given polling of the race and her popularity.
Davidson only became Treasurer because Washington Democrats fumbled their advantage in the blanket primary and fielded 3 Democratic candidates, and as a result two Republican candidates advanced into the general in 2016. During the primaries this year Democrats only fielded one candidate, State Rep. Mike Pellicciotti, who got 53.22% of the vote to Davidson’s 46.67% in the blanket primary. We see the race as Lean Democratic, a pickup for Washington Democrats.
There are two Likely Democratic state row officer races in Oregon this year: one of them, the Secretary of State office, is held by a Republican who is not running in November. We have a hard time seeing how Republicans can hold that office. The Treasurer race is Likely D as well, mainly due to the presence of third-party candidates that will siphon votes from the Democratic incumbent Tobias Read, who barely won in 2016. We still see him as a heavy favorite though given the Democratic-friendly environment nationally.
In total, Democrats are favored to pick up six state row officer races in the states of North Carolina, Washington and Oregon. Republicans, meanwhile, are favored to pick up the Governorship in Montana, and create a Republican trifecta as a result.