Are More Governorships In the Cards for the GOP?

Tight campaigns or no, Republican still have a firm grip on statehouse seats.

Utah Governor Gary Herbert, left, with his wife Jeanette Herbert, celebrates his victory over Democratic candidate Peter Corroon Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2010, in Salt Lake City.

Utah Governor Gary Herbert with his wife Jeanette, celebrating his victory over Democratic candidate Peter Corroon Nov. 2, 2010, in Salt Lake City.

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Eleven governorships are on the table in Tuesday's election and Republicans hope a good chunk of them will go red, strengthening their already robust lead in state leadership.

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Republicans currently hold 29 governorships, and according to the Republican Governors Association, the GOP has a chance to take as many as four of the eight currently Democratically-held states up for grabs.

The RGA expects an easy win in North Carolina, and tight races in Montana, Washington, and New Hampshire could go either way at this point. Wins in those four states would bring the Republican total to 33, the highest in almost a century, according to an ABC News report.

"If Romney loses [today], one of their talking points will be governors," Jennifer Duffy, a political analyst at the non-partisan election analyst group Cook Political Report, told ABC. "If you have two-thirds of the nation's governors on the same policy [page] and that share similarities, then you have something that has a combined larger effect… [Republicans] would argue they have all these governors implementing the same kinds of policy, that's only good for Republicans."

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Of the 11 gubernatorial races, six incumbents are fighting for a second term. Utah's Gary Herbert (R) and North Dakota's Jack Dalrymple (R) are both expected to easily trounce their Democratic challengers.

Two of the Democratic incumbents--Peter Shumlin of Vermont and Delaware's Jack Markell--should also take home another win, but two others--Jay Nixon of Missouri and Earl Ray Tomblin of West Virginia--have hard races ahead of them.

Other races such as Montana, Washington, and New Hampshire are too close to call.

"None of those races are so decidedly one party or the other that it would [be] earth shattering if either side won," says Mark Kennedy, who leads George Washington University's Graduate School of Political Management, is a former U.S. congressman, and was an adviser to both President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama.

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But regardless of how the tight races turn out, the GOP will still have a firm grip on governorships.

"It was more important last election cycle because it impacted redistricting this cycle," Kennedy says. "One could argue at least from a governor's perspective that the last election was more important on not only on the national stage and the state stage, but how it laid out the races for the next decade."

Instead, this year's gubernatorial races will be far more focused on issues specific to the each state, Kennedy adds. In Montana, energy and education are at the top of the priority list while match-ups in Washington and New Hampshire are more focused on education and collective bargaining rights for workers.

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Meg Handley is a reporter for U.S. News & World Report. You can follow her on Twitter or reach her at