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Key Takeaways 

  • There are 11 gubernatorial races in 2020 — in Delaware, Indiana, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Washington, and West Virginia. 
  • Currently (pre-election), Republicans control 26 governors’ mansions and Democrats control 24.
  • Post-election, a major change from the current overall national partisan split is unlikely. Of the 11 seats up for election, 10 are likely to stay with the incumbent party (3 of which are currently held by Democrats and 7 of which are currently held by Republicans).
  • Only one race (Montana, currently held by a Democrat) is considered closely competitive (“Tilt Republican”).
  • Scroll down for additional analysis.

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More Analysis

While politicos continue to forecast political headwinds in the Democrats’ direction, 2020 does not appear to be a year where Democrats will gain much ground when it comes to governorships.

Seven of this year's 11 gubernatorial races are projected to be safe seats for the incumbent party (Indiana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Utah, and Vermont for Republicans and Washington and Delaware for Democrats) and only one governor's race — the election in Montana to replace term-limited Democrat Steve Bullock — is closely competitive (rated as “Tilt Republican”). The next closest race according to forecasters is in Missouri, rated as "Lean Republican," where incumbent Republican Governor Mike Parson is fending off Democratic challenger Nicole Galloway. North Carolina’s Democratic incumbent Roy Cooper is similarly fighting to keep his place in the governor's mansion against Republican challenger Dan Forest. The race in North Carolina has shifted over the final few weeks from a “Lean Democratic” to Likely Democratic" rating. Finally, the race in West Virginia is rated as "Likely Republican" in favor of incumbent Republican Jim Justice retaining his seat again Democratic challenger Ben Salango.

So how will this play out on November 3? The best-case scenario for Republicans is to flip governorships in Montana and North Carolina, which would increase their total governorships to 28 to Democrats’ 22. The best case for Democrats is to ride a huge wave and flip the gubernatorial seats in Missouri or West Virginia. This would put Democrats in a tie for total governorship across the country or up a governor’s mansion. Note that a good night for Republicans in gubernatorial races is much more likely considering the tough map for Democratic challengers.

The most likely situation is that Democrats either keep the status quo by holding on to vulnerable governorships in Montana and North Carolina or lose the race in Montana but succeed in keeping Governor Cooper in the North Carolina governor’s mansion. In this case, keeping the current 26-24 Republican/Democratic split in governorships or a slight increase for Republicans to 27-23 are the most likely outcomes of the 2020 elections for governor.

Want More Election Coverage?

For even more election coverage, visit MultiState's 2020 State Elections Landing Page, your source for up-to-date and accurate election results and analysis. Bookmark our page for updated maps on partisan breakdown of state governors and legislatures pre- and post-election, plus analysis on the races and key ballot measures from our MultiState Insider blog.