Incumbents may have largely held on to their seats last month, but that doesn’t mean the races weren’t close. Notably, 10 winning candidates won without the support of a majority of voters.*
“If that sounds like a lot — it is,” Ostermeier wrote. “For it’s just the third time in the last century that the number of governors elected with a plurality of the vote has reached double digits – all since 2002.”
The number and share of governors elected without majority support has steadily risen over the past few decades, a trend Ostermeier partially blames on (or credits to?) a rise in more-viable independent and third party campaigns.
“The last time the U.S. has seen this rate of governors elected without the support of the majority of the electorate was a century ago when Progressives split the Republican Party and support for the Socialist Party was peaking,” he wrote.
Securing only a plurality of the vote is not a great sign for reelection. Of all the plurality governors since 1900 who were not term-limited, only 46 percent were reelected.
* From Ostermeier: “Plurality winners in the 2014 cycle are independent Bill Walker of Alaska (48.1 percent), Democrats John Hickenlooper of Colorado (49.3 percent), David Ige of Hawaii (49.5 percent), John Kitzhaber of Oregon (48.9 percent), Gina Raimondo of Rhode Island (40.7 percent), and Peter Schumlin of Vermont (46.4 percent), and Republicans Rick Scott of Florida (48.1 percent), Sam Brownback of Kansas (49.9 percent), Paul LePage of Maine (48.2 percent), and Charlie Baker of Massachusetts (48.4 percent).”