Republican Grassroots Advantage: Democrats, Start Thinking Gubernatorial

Republican and Democrat

In response to an article put out by Bill Schneider titled “What America’s leftward shift means for elections,” Republican radio pundit Michael Medved recently stated on February 19th, 2014, “[I]f the country is really going leftist” then “how come 30 governors went to the GOP… I just don’t believe we are (going leftist).”

But what is it really that can lead to this shift in these gubernatorial races giving the Republican Party a 29-21 state advantage?

Answer: The Democratic Party, although willing to vote in the big election, does not have the grassroots movement that the Republican Party does, nor do they appear to even try.  In order for the Democratic Party to succeed in the gubernatorial races, they have to start concentrating on a grassroots campaign focusing on the type of elections they should already win.

In the states that went to the Democrats in the 2012 presidential election, here are the states held by Republican governorships:  Florida, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, New Mexico, New Jersey, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Same stat, but reversed (went Republican in 2012 with Democratic governors):  Montana, Missouri, Arkansas, West Virginia and Kentucky.

Subsequently, the Republican Party gained give more states in the governorships’ elections comparatively speaking to the presidential election leading to a 29-21 gubernatorial advantage for the Republicans as opposed to a 26-24 advantage for the Democrats. Why?

Let’s look at the numbers.

In the last presidential race in 2012:

  • Democratic votes cast- 65.915 million
  • Republican votes cast- 60.932 million

In the last gubernatorial voting cycle 2010-2013 (with all 50 states included):

  • Democratic votes cast- 44.346 million
  • Republican votes cast- 46.101 million

Democrats were outvoted by roughly 500,000 votes each year in gubernatorial races … roughly 2 million total votes more. Compare that to the presidential race where Democrats won by roughly 5 million total votes more.  That’s a 7 million vote swing (a plus 5 million vote margin nationally to a minus 2 million margin in the gubernatorial races).

Or we can look at the percentages:

  • Using the 2012 presidential voting totals as the base, Republicans had a 76 percent voter turnout rate in the gubernatorial races. Compare that to the 67 percent voter turnout rate for the Democrats.
  • Use the 2008 presidential election totals as the base and it’s even more depressing for Democrats: Republicans had a consistent 77 percent voter turnout rate in the gubernatorial races. Compare that to the 63 perent voter turnout rate for the Democrats.

You can make the argument that when the office of the president is held by one party, the opposing party usually will get a higher voter turnout rate with a promise of “hope” and “change” to rally the troops. However, the gubernatorial race is a grassroots campaign that the Republican Party owns and one the Democrats should win and should be of primary concern.

The Democratic Party can blame gerrymandering all they want for why they lose the House elections every year… and are probably justified in doing so; however, if you want to stop disenfranchisement, bogus voter-ID laws, bigoted/racist laws, and most importantly gerrymandering from being passed, you need to win the governors’ races. It is ultimately the governor that decides what to sign in to state law. The gubernatorial races are not affected by gerrymandering and the national and state numbers are there for the Democratic Party to win at least 26 states (considering the last congressional 2012 vote totals ultimately were affected by gerrymandering).

Yes, it is true that if the governor is in control of has both state assemblies held by the opposing party by a two-thirds vote in each, they can pass any bill without any governor’s approval. But, the states where this can even occur without any governor approval are already heavily either Democrat or Republican strongholds and it doesn’t even matter. (There is one exception where this can actually occur today: Missouri, where there is a Democratic governor and a two-thirds majority held in both assemblies by the Republicans)

The Democratic Party needs to shift their focus to building a solid grassroots spending campaign in those ten states that voted for Obama in 2012, but have a Republican governor. There is no excuse for the Democratic Party to win these states in a presidential election and fail to win them in the gubernatorial races. Too hard? Fine, forget ten. Focus on the five states that have split assemblies or Democratic-controlled assemblies that voted for Obama in 2012, like:  Iowa (split assembly); Maine (both held by Democrats); New Mexico (both held by Democrats); New Jersey (both held by Democrats); Nevada (both held by Democrats).  There should be no reason to lose these states in gubernatorial races (probably with exception to New Jersey).  The other five states have both assemblies controlled by the Republicans (whether due to gerrymandering or not), but all ten of these states voted for the Democratic Party (some even twice!) in the past two presidential elections.

The votes are there, and if the Democratic Party wants to stop the Republican Party’s strategy of obstructionism and nihilism, then they need to attack them where “the buck stops here”… the governor.

Editorial by Ryne Vyles


U.S. Election Atlas


Michael Medved Show

The New York Times

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