Democrats are bullish about their opportunity to win the governor's mansion in Kansas. Republicans have sent staffers out to Hawaii for what they view as a promising opportunity to turn the state red.
Those statements may seem surprising given both states' political leanings—but they're a testament to the fact that the 2014 gubernatorial map has shifted considerably in recent months, a new reality that may cause both parties to move resources to places they never expected at the beginning of the year.
Unlike the 2014 Senate map, which has remained relatively static over the course of the cycle, the gubernatorial map looks quite different than it did when the year began. Some races that were previously seen as competitive, like Ohio and Pennsylvania, are dropping off the map. Others that were low on the national radar, like Kansas, Hawaii and Connecticut, have turned into real races.
Of the initially competitive races that are falling off the map, two swing states with GOP governors running for a second term—Ohio and Pennsylvania—have seen the starkest changes.
In Pennsylvania, unpopular Governor Tom Corbett is likely to become the first Keystone State governor ousted in the state's history, giving Democrats a near-automatic pickup. While Corbett was always expected to face an uphill battle to get reelected, no one thought he'd be more than 20 points down on Labor Day. A Franklin & Marshall poll released last week put Corbett at just 24 percent—a full 25 points below Democratic challenger Tom Wolf.