As the country gears up for the 2024 elections, 11 races for governor will be contested, offering a glimpse into the shifting political dynamics across the nation. Currently, Republicans hold 27 seats and Democrats 23. In the states with upcoming gubernatorial elections, eight are led by Republicans, while three are controlled by the Democrats. This sets the stage for potential changes in party control and the broader implications for state policies and governance.
Two states, New Hampshire and North Carolina, emerge as pivotal battlegrounds with a “Lean” or “Toss-up” rating from respected political publications like The Cook Political Report, Sabato’s Crystal Ball, and Inside Elections. Notably, incumbent governors, Chris Sununu (R) and Roy Cooper (D) are stepping down, the former opting out of re-election and the latter being term-limited, leaving the fields in both states open and unpredictable. The remaining nine states with gubernatorial elections are deemed safe for one party or the other, providing a more stable electoral landscape.
The power of incumbency is real. Looking back at the 2020 gubernatorial elections, incumbents secured victory in nine out of eleven races. Montana witnessed a notable shift in party control as Republican Greg Gianforte claimed the governorship, succeeding term-limited Democrat Steve Bullock.
There were 36 gubernatorial elections in 2022, which netted an equal split for Democrats and Republicans, as both parties won 18 races.
And in the November 2023 election, abortion rights played a major role in driving turnout. Voters in Ohio, an increasingly red state that voted twice for Trump, passed a ballot measure by a wide margin enshrining abortion rights in the state constitution.
Senate Races & Abortion Rights in 2024
In 2024, reproductive rights initiatives in swing states could impact outcomes up and down the ticket. In Arizona, activists are gathering signatures for a ballot initiative similar to Ohio’s. Swing states like Pennsylvania, Nevada, Iowa, and Colorado could have abortion rights measures on their ballots alongside the presidential candidates later this year.
In addition to the presidential contest, there will be 35 US Senate races decided in 2024. 21 US senators will run for reelection (14 Democrats, 6 Republicans, and 1 independent). Two special elections will take place- one in California to fill the seat held by the late Sen. Dianne Feinstein and one in Nebraska to fill the unexpired term of Sen. Ben Sasse, who resigned in 2023. Two Republican and 5 Democratic Senators have announced their retirements and will not see reelection in 2024.
The Political Calendar: What to expect from now through March
Shifting our focus to the broader political calendar, several important events loom on the horizon which could impact these gubernatorial elections. Yesterday’s resounding victory by Donald Trump in the Iowa caucuses kicked off the presidential primary season. Attention now shifts to presidential primaries in the early states of New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina. Pending the outcome of a federal appeals court in Washington decision, former President Trump will stand trial on March 4th in Washington, D.C., adding a layer of complexity to the Republican primaries.
Super Tuesday takes place on March 5, 2024, when the largest number of states will hold presidential primaries. Voters in Alabama, Arkansas, Alaska, California, Colorado, Iowa (Democratic presidential primary), Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont and Virginia will all head to the polls.
Are You Prepared?
The shifting and complex dynamics of 2024 will undoubtedly influence the broader political landscape for years to come. Now is the time to review your company’s plan for addressing the many issues facing state and federal leaders. Our team has a proven track record of designing comprehensive, creative and nontraditional engagement strategies that help your business thrive in uncertain times.