Amidst all the talk about the presidential race, we sometimes forget about the governors--the chief executives in laboratories of democracy, and major players in the post-2010 congressional redistricting. One reason for the lack of attention is the relatively small number of races in '08. This year only 11 state houses are up for grabs--six held by Democrats and five by Republicans. And the number that might change parties is even smaller. According to the University of Virginia's Larry Sabato, only three--Missouri (held by a Republican), North Carolina (held by a Democrat), and Washington (held by a Democrat)--are seriously in contention.
Democrats hold a 28-22 lead over Republicans in the number of governorships. Based on Sabato's outlook, that ratio doesn't look likely to change a great deal after November. The number of gubernatorial races will balloon in two years; 36 states are up for grabs in 2010 (gubernatorial elections in five others, such as Virginia, occur in odd years, 2009 and 2011).
Expect a lot more attention on state house races in 2010 as the stakes get higher because of redistricting, which, according to one of my favorite lines in politics, "is the only time politicians chose the voters instead of vice versa."
Read Sabato's overview of the 11 races here.