Our rankings of the five governors race considered most likely to change parties between now and November 2012 are after the jump.
Have thoughts on our rankings or have some of your own? The comments section awaits.
Off the Line: Kentucky
Onto the Line: West Virginia
5. Missouri (Democratic-controlled, 2012): Little has gone right for Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder (R) so far in this race, but at least he turned in a solid fundraising report. Kinder pulled in $1 million in the second quarter. That’s still less than the $1.5 million that Gov. Jay Nixon (D) raised, but it’s at least competitive. Kinder, now, will need to rid himself of the mistakes that have plagued his campaign to date and hope that President Obama’s troubles in Missouri weigh Nixon down. (Previous ranking: 5)
4. West Virginia (D, 2011): This race makes its debut on the Line largely by default. Republicans’ chances in Missouri and Kentucky have declined in recent months, and we’re still waiting on New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch (D) to decide whether to run for reelection before we give that state the Fix Bump. West Virginia remains a little more wide-open, with businessman Bill Maloney’s self-funding giving the GOP hope in this conservative-minded but Democratic-by-registration state. Acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin (D) remains the favorite though. (Previous ranking: N/A)
3. Washington (D, 2012): This race has started getting expensive fast. Attorney General Rob McKenna (R) took in $668,000, beating Rep. Jay Inslee (D), who brought in only $513,000. The Democratic congressman is now hoping to transfer over $1 million from his House account — a finance law interpretation that McKenna calls “illegal.” Right now, Republicans seem more enthusiastic. But with state auditor Brian Sontag (D) deciding not to run and McKenna stumbling a bit on the trail, Inslee is a slight favorite in this Democratic-leaning state. (Previous ranking: 3)
2. Montana (D, 2012): Democrats are still waiting to see what Attorney General Steve Bullock will do. Luckily for them, Republicans are off to a slow start. Former Rep. Rick Hill (R) leads the rest of the GOP field by a wide margin with $285,686 so far. Former state senator Ken Miller (R) isn’t giving up — he’s touting polling showing a tight race and he’s accused of spreading dirt on Hill. Bullock, who says he won’t decide until Labor Day, still looks like Democrats only hope for holding this seat but most sharp observers expect him to, eventually, run. (Previous ranking: 2)
1. North Carolina (D, 2012): Gov. Bev Perdue (D) raised $1.3 million in the first half of the year, a solid total for the nation’s most vulnerable governor. But, her near-certain opponent — former Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory (R) — raked in $1 million of his own. Those early totals suggest that this will be one of the most expensive governor’s races in the country next year. Perdue remains decidedly vulnerable, particularly given that McCrory nearly beat her in 2008 — a decidedly bad year for Republicans in North Carolina. (Previous ranking: 1)
With Aaron Blake and Rachel Weiner