Why Governors in Tight Races Should Be Talking Jobs, Jobs, Jobs
By David Ingold, Adam Pearce and Alex Tribou | October 21, 2014
Governors up for re-election in several states are trailing or narrowly leading their challengers in the polls. But if history is any indicator, falling unemployment rates could help many of them keep their seats.
Here are the 316 governor's races since 1990. The incumbent party has held onto a seat about two-thirds of the time. Employment is one of many issues that affect people’s votes — but governors won more often when a state’s unemployment rate improved during their term and beat the U.S. average on election day.
Rising unemployment during the Great Recession swept a wave of new governors into office in 2010. Many of these newcomers are now up for re-election. This November, 36 states — shown as purple dots — will choose a governor.
In every state with a governor’s race, unemployment has fallen or stayed the same since the last election. Naturally, governors are claiming credit for the improving economy, hoping voters reward them or their party for being lucky enough to hold office during a recovery.


State unemployment compared to U.S. rate on election day

In , after unemployment pts. to %, a rate pts. than the U.S. average.
This fall, are defending the governor's seat in . Unemployment pts. to %, a rate pts. than the U.S. average.