Nationwide Gubernatorial Polling

Earlier this year, the New York Times and the international polling firm YouGov joined together to conduct an exhaustive series of nationwide political polls. CBS News has now joined them. Over this past weekend, a second wave of gubernatorial polls was released, testing all 36 campaigns between candidates running to become, or remain, the state chief executive. So we now can get a look at new numbers for every gubernatorial race on the ballot.

All of the surveys were conducted from Sept. 27 through Oct. 1, and the sample sizes fell into a range from 264 (Wyoming) to 7,943 (California) respondents, a formula commensurate with the size of the state’s population.

The Tightest Results

All of the races in this sector have been close for weeks and months, in most cases. They are likely to remain so all the way to Nov. 4:

Connecticut – Gov. Dan Malloy (D) vs. Ex-Amb. Tom Foley (R) – 41-41%
Florida – Gov. Rick Scott (R) vs. Ex-Gov. Charlie Crist (D) – 47-44%
Illinois – Gov. Pat Quinn (D) vs. businessman Bruce Rauner (R) – 46-43%
Kansas – Gov. Sam Brownback (R) vs. state Rep. Paul Davis (D) – 45-42%
Maine – Rep. Mike Michaud (D) vs. Gov. Paul LePage (R) – 39-37%
Michigan – Ex-Rep. Mark Schauer (D) vs. Gov. Rick Snyder (R) – 46-44%
Rhode Island – Treas. Gina Raimondo (D) vs. Mayor Allan Fung (R) – 41-38%
Wisconsin – businesswoman Mary Burke (D) vs. Gov. Scott Walker (R) – 49-48%
These polls show two governors, Pat Quinn (D-IL) and Sam Brownback (R-KS) rebounding to forge a lead after trailing for most of the election cycle.

Upset Possibilities

The leading candidates in this category, not originally projected to win, are at the very least in position to score an upset victory on Nov. 4:

Alaska – Ex-Mayor Bill Walker (I) vs. Gov. Sean Parnell (R) – 45-40%
Michigan – Ex-Rep. Mark Schauer (D) vs. Gov. Rick Snyder (R) – 46-44%
Wisconsin – businesswoman Mary Burke (D) vs. Gov. Scott Walker (R) – 49-48%
The YouGov data are one of the few survey results that place Mark Schauer (D-MI) running ahead of Gov. Rick Snyder (R-MI), as well as Mary Burke (D-WI) being projected with the slightest of leads against Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI).

+10 Points – Surprises

These candidates were expected to be in much closer races:

Arkansas – Ex-Rep. Asa Hutchinson (R) – 49-38% (open race)
Arizona – State Treas. Doug Ducey (R) – 50-39% (open race)
Idaho – Gov. Butch Otter (R) – 57-33%
Nebraska – businessman Pete Ricketts (R) – 55-35% (open race)
Oklahoma – Gov. Mary Fallin (R) – 58-33%
South Carolina – Gov. Nikki Haley (R) – 53-36%
Most polls place Asa Hutchinson (R-AR) ahead of former Rep. Mike Ross (D-AR-4), but not by as large a spread as the YouGov 11-point margin. Same for Doug Ducey in his Arizona race. Though Ricketts has always been favored in Nebraska, this poll represents his largest lead of the campaign. Both governors Fallin (R-OK) and Haley (R-SC) were expected to have more competitive opposition despite running in deep red states. These polls place them both in landslide range.


Most of the following races can be considered toss-ups. Gov. Dayton (D-MN) has a smaller lead here than in most polls. Massachusetts candidate Martha Coakley (D-MA) has a larger advantage than most surveys yield. Gov. Martinez (R-NM) is generally favored by more than seven points. Wolf (D-PA) is usually ahead of Gov. Tom Corbett (R-PA) by more than nine points.

Colorado – Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) – 49-45%
Georgia – Gov. Nathan Deal (R) – 48-43%
Hawaii – State Sen. David Ige (D) – 41-35% (open race)
Massachusetts – Atty. Gen. Martha Coakley (D) – 47-41% (open race)
Minnesota – Gov. Mark Dayton (D) – 49-42%
New Mexico – Gov. Susana Martinez (R) – 48-41%
Oregon – Gov. John Kitzhaber (D) – 49-42%
Pennsylvania – businessman Tom Wolf (D) – 50-41% (incumbent defeat)

Easy Winners – Expected

The following gubernatorial candidates lead by 10 or more points, and are prohibitive favorites to win their election campaigns.

Alabama – Gov. Robert Bentley (R) – 65-28%
California – Gov. Jerry Brown (D) – 56-36%
Iowa – Gov. Terry Branstad (R) – 52-39%
Maryland – Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown (D) – 55-38% (open race)
New Hampshire – Gov. Maggie Hassan (D) – 49-39%
Nevada – Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) – 56-25%
New York – Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) – 57-30%
Ohio – Gov. John Kasich (R) – 52-36%
South Dakota – Gov. Dennis Daugaard (R) – 57-31%
Tennessee – Gov. Bill Haslam (R) – 60-28%
Texas – AG Greg Abbott (R) – 54-40% (open race)
Vermont – Gov. Peter Shumlin (D) – 46-29%
Wyoming – Gov. Matt Mead (R) – 53-30%

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