I can attest from my experience of living in Texas that down ballots do matter. Here are some of the governors and down ballot races I am keeping an eye on during Election Night 2014.
As shown on last night's The Rachel Maddow Show, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has been making a lot of appearances in states not named New Jersey.
Is he about to announce his 2016 run?
Nah, he is campaigning for various Republican candidates in Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut.
President Obama was in Connecticut recently stumping for incumbent Governor Dannel Malloy (D) who is in a tough re-election bid.
The one gubernatorial race I am watching in the Northeast will be the one in Massachusetts. When you think of blue states, that is Massachusetts but in recent history the Bay State has shown a Republican streak in its politics. In 2002, it elected Mitt Romney governor who served one term and then ran for president in 2008 and 2012. In 2010, the state voted for Scott Brown in a special senate election due to the death of Ted Kennedy in 2009. Brown was defeated in November 2012 by Elizabeth Warren. Brown won that special election in January 2010 against former Massachusetts attorney general Martha Coakley.
Coakley should be a shoe in for governor, but I had a conversation with someone from Massachusetts and they relayed to me that Coakley is TERRIBLE at campaigning. This appears to be a repeat from 2010 when she (and the Democrats are to blame for this too) did not take the special election seriously. Coakley went on vacation during the 2010 special election campaign and when she returned she suddenly found herself trailing Scott Brown.
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett will be out of a job come January 2015. Polls have consistently shown Tom Wolf leading by double digits. As will Kansas Governor Sam Brownback and hopefully Maine Governor Paul LePage.
The aspirations for a Scott Walker presidency might end when he is denied a second term as Wisconsin governor on Tuesday night. Mary Burke received the endorsement for governor from the Wisconsin State Journal on Sunday. The editorial board highlights the many failures of Walker in his time as Wisconsin governor.
I will probably expect President Obama to watch the returns from his home state. No, not Hawaii, though they had a very entertaining primary season. The Illinois gubernatorial between incumbent Governor Pat Quinn (D) and Bruce Rauner (R). Recent Real Clear poling shows the race tied, but Quinn has led in two of the final three polls.
To say that Michigan Governor Rick Snyder (R) is unpopular is an understatement. Real Clear does show him leading his Democratic challenger Mark Schauer by an average of 1.7 points, but if Schauer is to be the next governor it might come down to turnout.
And how can there not be an election night without Florida. Four years ago, Charlie Crist was governor of Florida and changed his party affiliation from Republican to Independent. He lost that election in a three-way between him, Democrat Kendrick Meek, and Republican Marco Rubio who won with 48.9% of the vote.
Now Crist is running as Democrat to regain the office he once held. He is challenging Florida Governor Rick Scott. Crist might pull it off as the polls show him with a lead within the margin of error.
Texas… this pains me to say this.
I don't think Wendy Davis will win.
(boos from Texas Democratic politicos)
And neither will Leticia Van de Putte for Lieutenant Governor.
(even louder boos from Texas Democratic politicos)
Both Davis and Van de Putte are not bad candidates. I think both have run good races. Despite the best efforts of the Texas Democratic Party and Battleground Texas, the problem is that the demographics of Texas are not showing up to the polls and there has not been the shift in Texas political thinking YET. Van de Putte has a better chance of winning her race because Dan Patrick is a lunatic, but I don't feel too confident about Texas' fortunes changing for the better anytime soon.
I am really surprised this gubernatorial election in Colorado is as close as it has been. During a debate, Beauprez called IUDs an abortifacient.
Again, no dummy.
And this guy lost by 17 points in the 2006 gubernatorial election.
I point to the Colorado Democratic turnout machine that will re-elect John Hickenlooper to another term as our governor.
In closing, there are many other races that are just as important if not more. Secretary of State oversees elections in each state. As we saw in previous presidential elections the party of whoever holds that position can determine who can vote, under what rules are those elections conducted under, and how recounts are done.
The role of Attorney General has become much more prominent in recent years with marriage equality processing through the courts. Many Republican attorney generals such as John Suthers here in Colorado have recognized the inevitable with the Supreme Court's non-decision decision in October while others such as Greg Abbott (who is running for Texas governor) and Pam Bondi have said that they will fight this issue until the very end.
Greg Abbott, who promotes his Latina wife on a regular basis in his ads and has forgotten that his marriage would have been illegal in Texas prior to 12 June 1967. And of course the twice divorced Pam Bondi.
While control of Congress is important, probably who controls the state legislature will have a greater impact on your life. Just ask the women in Texas. Or students and minorities in North Carolina who have seen voting hours cut and access to the polls blocked with so-called voter-ID laws that are meant to curb fraud. Or union members in Wisconsin about their right to collective bargain stripped.
In comparison, ask my aunt and her wife who were allowed to civil union in July 2013 and then due to recent legal ramifications legally marry in Colorado in October 2014. Or how much I enjoy voting by mail in this state and we have same day voter registration in Colorado. How about Kentucky State House Democrats are blocking efforts to allow Senator Rand Paul to run for senate re-election AND for president in 2016.
These elections matter. All the way from the top of the ticket to the lowliest race at the bottom of the ticket. When I hear that people are planning to sit out these elections because "President Obama didn't do this policy for me" or "It's not a presidential" (true story, I actually had someone I called say that to me during a phone bank) I want to sit those people down and lecture them about why voting in every election is important.
Former US House Speaker Tip O'Neil is believed to have said, "All politics is local."
Especially in these elections.