Lay of the Land for 2022 Gubernatorial Races


The 2022 midterms aren’t just about Congress.  36 states will be holding gubernatorial elections, and the consequences will not just determine state-level policies but also inform future political players on the federal level for presidential races..  At the moment, 27 states have Republican governors, while 23 have Democratic governors.

Nearly 40 state governorships are up for grabs over the next two years, and the winners of these races will have a broad impact on not just state-level policies but also the potential to reshape rising political stars on the national stage.  This blog post looks at all the upcoming gubernatorial races for 2021-2022 and provides insight on the likely outcome.

The 2021 Races

One indicator of the 2022 midterms will be three gubernatorial races scheduled in fall 2021.  Both New Jersey and Virginia have held their gubernatorial elections off-year to avoid being overshadowed by federal elections, while California’s election is part of a recall effort.

  • In New Jersey, incumbent Democratic Governor Phil Murphy is seeking a second term.  He will face Republican nominee and current State Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli. The state gubernatorial election will take place on November 2, 2021.
  • In Virginia, former Governor Terry McAuliffe is seeking a second term in a November 2, 2021, where he will face off against Republican nominee Glenn Youngkin.  Unlike other state governors, Virginia governors are not allowed to serve consecutive terms, which is why the current Democratic Governor Ralph Northam is not seeking reelection.
  • In California, incumbent Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom faces a recall election on September 14, 2021.  46 candidates have been deemed qualified to appear on the ballot, including 9 Democrats and 23 Republicans.

However, the 2021 gubernatorial races are unlikely to serve as a bellwether for the 2022 midterms.  All three states are solidly Democratic, with Democrats currently serving as governor, attorney general, and secretary of state.  Additionally, the state legislatures of Virginia, New Jersey, and California all have Democratic majorities.

The 2022 Outlook

Of the 36 states in the mix for 2022, 20 governorships are held by Republicans, while 18 are held by Democrats.  Below is a chart of all states with 2022 gubernatorial elections, their likely outcome according to the Cook Political Report, and a comparison with 2020 presidential election results.

State Incumbent Party Projection 2020 Presidential Margin
Alabama Kay Ivey R Solid R Trump (+25.5)
Alaska Mike Dunleavy R Solid R Trump (+10.1)
Arizona Doug Ducey* R Toss-up Biden (+0.3)
Arkansas Asa Hutchinson* D Solid R Trump (+27.6)
California Gavin Newsom† D Likely D Biden (+29.5)
Colorado Jared Polis D Solid D Biden (+13.5)
Connecticut Ned Lamont D Solid D Biden (+20)
Florida Ron DeSantis R Lean R Trump (+3.4)
Georgia Brian Kemp R Lean R Biden (+0.2)
Hawaii David Ige* D Solid D Biden (+29.5)
Idaho Brad Little R Solid R Trump (+30.7)
Illinois J.B. Pritzker D Solid D Biden (+16.9)
Iowa Kim Reynolds R Likely R Trump (+8.2)
Kansas Laura Kelly D Toss-up Trump (+14.6)
Maine Janet Mills D Likely D Biden (+9.1)
Maryland Larry Hogan* R Lean D Biden (+33.2)
Massachusetts Charlie Baker R Solid R Biden (+33.5)
Michigan Gretchen Witmer D Lean D Biden (+2.4)
Minnesota Tim Walz D Likely D Biden (+7.1)
Nebraska Pete Ricketts* R Solid R Trump (+19.1)
Nevada Steve Sisolak D Likely D Biden (+2.4)
New Hampshire Chris Sununu R Likely R Biden (+7.4)
New Mexico Michelle Lujan Grisham D Solid D Biden (+10.8)
New York Andrew Cuomo D Solid D Biden (+23.1)
Ohio Mike DeWine R Likely R Trump (+8)
Oklahoma Kevin Stitt R Solid R  Trump (+33.1)
Oregon Kate Brown D Likely D Biden (+16.1)
Pennsylvania Tom Wolf* D Toss-up Biden (+1.2)
Rhode Island Daniel McKee D Solid D Biden (+23.1)
South Carolina Henry McMaster R Solid R Trump (+11.7)
South Dakota Kristi Noem R Solid R Trump (+26.2)
Tennessee Bill Lee R Solid R Trump (+23.2)
Texas Greg Abbott R Likely R Trump (+5.8)
Vermont Phil Scott R Solid R Biden (+35.4)
Wisconsin Tony Evers D Lean D Biden (+0.6)
Wyoming Mark Gordon R Solid R Trump (+43.3)

*Not eligible for reelection due to term limits

†Dependent on results of 2021 recall election

Democrats face an uphill battle in the 2022 gubernatorial races.  In 16 of the 19 midterm elections held since World War II, the party of the president lost bids for governorship.  However, 2022 is unlikely to see a lot of turnovers in the governors’ mansions due to the fact that all but six races feature incumbents, who generally face an advantage in retaining their seats.  Nonetheless, conditions could change for all gubernatorial candidates, depending on the popularity of President Joe Biden, the state of the economy, public health, and countless other measures.

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