Why 2010 Will be Good for Republicans

Thirty-six states have gubernatorial elections in 2010; twenty of those statehouses are currently held by Democrats, against just sixteen held by Republicans. And according to the National Governors’ Association, state balance sheets are collapsing across the board:

The recession has taken its toll on states, with over half projecting a total of at least $30 billion in budget shortfalls for FY09 that will force significant budget cuts, according to a biennual fiscal survey released today by the National Association of State Budget Officers and the National Governors Association. The situation will only get worse as the economy deteriorates and demand grows for Medicaid, food stamps and other programs, said NASBO Executive Director Scott Pattison in a conference call with reporters. The survey’s data were collected during the fall and reflect actual FY07 state budgets and preliminary FY08 budgets. Pattison said the $30 billion figure for states is a partial number, representing only 31 states. Most states’ fiscal years begin July 1, and most states are constitutionally required to balance their budgets. More states “will probably announce shortfalls as they go into their legislative sessions in January,” said NGA Executive Director Raymond Scheppach, adding he sees shortfalls for the two-year period running in the $180 billion to $200 billion range.

With more gubernatorial seats to defend — a result of the strong Democratic year in 2006 — Democrats are more heavily exposed in 2010. Many will be forced to increase taxes or reduce spending in the next two years, likely leaving voters ready for a change of course. Plus, a look at the races to be held in 2010 suggests that the Democrats are defending more seats in red and purple states (Kansas, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Wyoming, Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, New Hampshire, and Ohio), than Republicans do (California, Hawaii, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Minnesota, and Vermont).