Without further ado, begin reading:
Alabama - Toss-Up
Incumbent: Bob Riley (R) - elected in 2002
Riley's 49% approval (to 48% disapproval) is precarious, but that's not the only reason this is a toss-up. He faces a strong far-right primary challenge from former Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore. While Riley has the edge in that primary, I wouldn't bet on it given the strong conservative bent of GOP primary voters (especially in Alabama). On the Democratic side, Lt. Gov. Lucy Baxley should easily trounce corrupt former Gov. Don Siegelman. A Baxley/Riley race would be competitive; a Baxley/Moore race would lean toward Baxley.
Read the other 35 below the fold...
Incumbent: Frank Murkowski (R) - elected in 2002
Whether Murkowski runs again or not, this is a toss-up race. His approval being only 34% (less than President Bush's), he would be an extremely vulnerable incumbent in a usually deep red state. He also faces a tough Republican primary against a number of contestants, and at least one strong Democratic candidate, State Rep. Ethan Berkowitz. In the end, Murkowski may decide to take a bullet for his party and simply retire.
Arizona - Likely Democratic
Incumbent: Janet Napolitano (D) - elected in 2002
Napolitano may have a lot of Republican opposition in conservative-leaning Arizona, but her approval is 60%. I don't anticipate a tough race here.
Arkansas (OPEN) - Toss-Up
Incumbent: Mike Huckabee (R) - assumed office in 1996
With Huckabee term-limited, watch for one of 2006's hottest races in Bill Clinton's home state. The Democratic nominee is probably Attorney General Mike Beebe; the Republican is probably former Rep. Asa Hutchinson. Despite Huckabee's 56% approval, an early poll showed Beebe with the edge: 47% to Hutchinson's 40%. Nevertheless, the campaign has barely begun.
California - Toss-Up
Incumbent: Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) - elected in 2003 special recall
After the crushing defeat of all four of Arnold's "reform" initiatives in November, Arnold is looking mighty vulnerable right about now. His approval, once sky-high, is 33%, and he has two strong opponents already in Treasurer Phil Angelides and Controller Steve Westly. Angelides is the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination, and is already - at worst - tied with Schwarzenegger in the polls (several polls have shown him with a 4-point lead).
Colorado (OPEN) - Toss-Up
Incumbent: Bill Owens (R) - elected in 1998
Owens has a healthy 52% approval, but with him term-limited it is a pure toss-up. True, Colorado leans Republican, but not by much, and with Democrats clearly on the upswing here, attorney Bill Ritter must have some hope. The likely Republican nominee is Rep. Bob Beauprez. I give Beauprez the slight edge against Ritter, if only because of Owens' popularity, but I could be wrong.
Connecticut - Solid Republican
Incumbent: Jodi Rell (R) - assumed office in 2004
You just can't fight a 77% approval rating.
Florida (OPEN) - Toss-Up
Incumbent: Jeb Bush (R) - elected in 1998
Just like Arkansas and Colorado, despite a 57% approval rating for Jeb, this is a toss-up race courtesy of term limits. Rep. Jim Davis leads the Democratic field, while Attorney General Charlie Crist and CFO Tom Gallagher are competing for the GOP nomination. Davis is barely leading both Crist and Gallagher in a new Quinnipiac poll. Watch for yet another marquee finish in the Sunshine State.
Georgia - Lean Republican
Incumbent: Sonny Perdue (R) - elected in 2002
Perdue's approval has improved greatly, from the high 40's during summer to 57% in October. With that his poll numbers have gone up. The two major Democratic candidates are Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor and Secretary of State Cathy Cox. Without a doubt Cox is the stronger candidate (she is very popular statewide and is relatively baggage-free while Taylor has some skeletons in his closet). Most polls show her within a few points of Perdue, while Taylor lags way behind. Still, Perdue is popular, and no state is trending Republican faster than Georgia.
Hawaii - Likely Republican
Incumbent: Linda Lingle (R) - elected in 2002
After Lingle's near-loss in 2002, I have to hold out hope, but all the signs point to an easy reelection. Not only is no Democrat of any import running yet, but Hawaii's economy is in strong shape.
Idaho (OPEN) - Solid Republican
Incumbent: Dirk Kempthorne (R) - elected in 1998
Despite a 62% approval rating, Kempthorne has chosen to retire after two terms, and his successor will be either Lt. Gov. Jim Risch or (more likely) Rep. Butch Otter. The Democrats are silent.
Illinois - Toss-Up
Incumbent: Rod Blagojevich (D) - elected in 2002
Though Illinois has become a solid blue state, this is one of the Democrats' most vulnerable mansions. Blagojevich's approval is 41%, the state economy is tanking, and the GOP frontrunner is Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka, the only Republican left in statewide office. If Blagojevich runs a strong campaign and makes it a referendum on Bush, he may survive, but so far Topinka is looking pretty good. Nevertheless, you can always count on Illinois Republicans to screw up a lead, so this remains a toss-up.
Iowa (OPEN) - Toss-Up
Incumbent: Tom Vilsack (D) - elected in 1998
Like Dirk Kempthorne, Vilsack is retiring despite a strong approval rating (56%). Democrats have a huge primary field, while Republicans have all but anointed Rep. Jim Nussle. I predict a showdown between Nussle and Secretary of State Chet Culver, which would be a very competitive matchup in this swing state. But take heart, Democrats: we may take the state legislature.
Kansas - Likely Democratic
Incumbent: Kathleen Sebelius (D) - elected in 2002
Hawaii having a GOP governor may embarrass Democrats, but Kansas having a Democratic governor has to totally irk Republicans. Especially since Gov. Sebelius' approval is 59%, and no strong Republican is challenging her. It's an easy Sebelius hold...I think.
Maine - Lean Democratic
Incumbent: John Baldacci (D) - elected in 2002
Baldacci is unpopular, but Republicans can't get their act together. Nevertheless, this is a tenuous rating; it may become a toss-up in short order.
Maryland - Toss-Up
Incumbent: Bob Ehrlich (R) - elected in 2002
Perhaps I should dub this lean Democratic. Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley, the Democratic frontrunner, has led Ehrlich in several polls, and Montgomery County Executive Doug Duncan is tough competition too. On the other hand, if the winds are just right, Republicans can win in Maryland. I think Democrats have the edge here.
Massachusetts - Lean Democratic
Incumbent: Mitt Romney (R) - elected in 2002
Romney's approval is only 43% and he has an uphill fight against Attorney General Tom Reilly. Indeed, there is nothing more embarrassing than a Republican governor in famously liberal Massachusetts. Hopefully that 16-year curse will end. The polls say it will. Now the interesting thing to watch is whether Romney subjects himself to a tough reelection battle or bows out in favor of a 2008 presidential run.
Michigan - Lean Democratic
Incumbent: Jennifer Granholm (D) - elected in 2002
Even though Granholm's approval is only 42%, her lead over Amway heir Dick DeVos is very strong. DeVos is seen as too conservative for Michigan, but he is very wealthy and Granholm is not very popular, so a Republican victory is quite possible.
Minnesota - Lean Republican
Incumbent: Tim Pawlenty (R) - elected in 2002
Pawlenty's approval is good (52%), but Bush's isn't in Minnesota, and Attorney General Mike Hatch, the Dem frontrunner, should give Pawlenty a run for his money. Polls indicate a tight contest between the two despite Pawlenty's decent approval. Both this and the Senate race should be competitive.
Nebraska - Solid Republican
Incumbent: Dave Heineman (R) - assumed office in 2005
Heineman is very popular, but he faces a difficult primary against even more popular Rep. Tom Osborne. After the primary, there's nothing to see here.
Nevada (OPEN) - Lean Republican
Incumbent: Kenny Guinn (R) - elected in 1998
If not term-limited, Guinn would face a breezy reelection. Despite Nevada's swing state status, the GOP has the edge. Republican Rep. Jim Gibbons will probably face Democratic State Sen. Dina Titus, in a classic Nevada battle between rural Republicans and Las Vegas Democrats. If Gibbons is seen as Guinn's natural successor, then he will win. If this election becomes about President Bush, Titus will win. I suspect the former, but it will be close.
New Hampshire - Solid Democratic
Incumbent: John Lynch (D) - elected in 2004
So far, this is looking like a slam-dunk for Lynch. New Hampshire gives its governors two-year terms, so the current 70% approval for Lynch should translate to victory. What happens within the next term, however, is an open question.
New Mexico - Solid Democratic
Incumbent: Bill Richardson (D) - elected in 2002
Richardson's approval is 63% in a hotly contested swing state. He will win easily. Let the 2008 speculation begin.
New York (OPEN) - Solid Democratic
Incumbent: George Pataki (R) - elected in 1994
The mildly unpopular Pataki is retiring after three terms to save himself from a whipping by likely winner Attorney General Eliot Spitzer (a Democrat). This is going to be a Spitzer landslide according to every poll.
Ohio (OPEN) - Toss-Up
Incumbent: Bob Taft (R) - elected in 1998
This is one case where Republicans are glad for term limits, as Taft's 19% approval would have translated to a Democratic slam-dunk. Instead, Ohio will host one of the nation's hottest gubernatorial contests, probably between GOP Secretary of State Ken Blackwell and Democratic Rep. Ted Strickland. According to a new Rasmussen poll, Strickland has a narrow lead over Blackwell.
Oklahoma - Likely Democratic
Incumbent: Brad Henry (D) - elected in 2002
Henry is extremely popular in deep red Oklahoma, and should trounce Rep. Ernest Istook despite the usual political balance in the state. Why Istook would give up a safe House seat for this, I don't know.
Oregon - Lean Democratic
Incumbent: Ted Kulongoski (D) - elected in 2002
Kulongoski's 42% to 47% approval-disapproval is close enough where he can recover, and if he makes President Bush the issue he will win. If Republicans get their act together, however, he could be in trouble; he also faces competition for the Democratic nomination.
Pennsylvania - Lean Democratic
Incumbent: Ed Rendell (D) - elected in 2002
Though Rendell's popularity is about the same as Mitt Romney's, his situation is hardly comparable. His Republican opposition is not stellar - only partisan polls have shown him deeply endangered. He is also a politician for the ages, and as he demonstrated in 2002 all he needs are the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh metros to pull off a victory.
Rhode Island - Likely Republican
Incumbent: Don Carcieri (R) - elected in 2002
Unlike Sen. Chafee, Carcieri can expect an easy reelection.
South Carolina - Likely Republican
Incumbent: Mark Sanford (R) - elected in 2002
Sanford is not all that popular, but when it comes down to it Democrats just don't have anybody in South Carolina.
South Dakota - Solid Republican
Incumbent: Mike Rounds (R) - elected in 2002
Not a peep out of South Dakota.
Tennessee - Lean Democratic
Incumbent: Phil Bredesen (D) - elected in 2002
Bredesen's approval has fallen from the high 50's to 48%; very tenuous indeed, but no strong Republicans are in yet.
Texas - Solid Republican
Incumbent: Rick Perry (R) - assumed office in 2000
It doesn't matter that Perry's approval is only 43% - Texas is not electing a Democrat any time soon.
Vermont - Solid Republican
Incumbent: Jim Douglas (R) - elected in 2002
In yet another case of a popular governor politically at odds with his state, here's America's most lefty state totally willing to grant its GOP executive a third term.
Wisconsin - Lean Democratic
Incumbent: Jim Doyle (D) - elected in 2002
Doyle's approval is 46%, precarious. But a recent poll shows him with polling in the high 40's and with a good lead over both Rep. Mark Green and Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker. The poll also shows President Bush's approval practically below sea level in Wisconsin.
Wyoming - Solid Democratic
Incumbent: Dave Freudenthal (D) - elected in 2002
Wyoming, America's second most Bush-friendly state, loves, loves, loves its Democratic governor.