(THE HILL) — The nonpartisan election analysis website the Cook Political Report is shifting three governor’s races toward Democrats with Election Day just under six weeks away.
Cook shifted the governor’s races in Pennsylvania and Michigan from lean Democratic to likely Democratic, and the race in Oklahoma from solid Republican to likely Republican.
It also shifted the Ohio governor’s race from likely Republican to solid Republican.
Jessica Taylor, the Senate and governors editor for Cook, said in a post explaining the moves that analysts expected the Pennsylvania and Michigan governor’s races to be considered toss-ups throughout the entire election cycle. But she said those two states have seen the largest decline in Republicans’ fortunes as the cycle has proceeded.
“And while, yes, the environment has significantly improved for Democrats, the further slide of both contests down the GOP’s competitive ladder is due to weak candidates who are barely running even semi-functional campaigns,” she said.
Taylor said the latest campaign finance reports from Pennsylvania showed Democrat Josh Shapiro outraising Republican Doug Mastriano by almost 40 to 1, and Shapiro has dominated the airwaves as a result. She said Mastriano has done little to reach out beyond his core supporters to independents, and Shapiro is likely to receive votes from Republicans who view Mastriano as too extreme on abortion and election denial.
Taylor said Michigan could also have been a closer race if a stronger candidate was chosen, but Republican Tudor Dixon was the best candidate after the top competitors were kicked off the ballot after fraudulent signatures on their candidate petitions were revealed.
She said Dixon has received little help from the Republican Governors Association, and Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer also has a significant advantage in advertising.
Cook is not expecting either race to be a double-digit “route,” but the Democrats clearly have the advantage, Taylor said.
She said the rating change in the Oklahoma governor’s race does not mean that incumbent Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) is in imminent danger of losing his reelection bid, but outside groups are heavily outspending him in favor of Democrat Joy Hofmeister.
Taylor said some recent public polling has shown this to be a close race within the margin of error, with Hofmeister performing well with independents and some Republicans who are supporting her. But private polling has shown a more comfortable lead for Stitt.
Taylor said the Ohio governor’s race was considered likely Republican as Gov. Mike DeWine (R) won less than a majority of the vote in the GOP primary against two challengers running to his right. But Cook has found that Democrat Nan Whaley has not been able to secure the financial resources needed to challenge DeWine, who has a double-digit lead in polling.