Plurality in Gubernatorial Elections

Posted on December 23, 2015

From 1946-2015, 119 of the 1,027 gubernatorial elections nationwide - or 11.6 % - were won with less than 50 percent of the vote. No general election was won with less than 35 percent of the vote. The following is the list of every general election over that span won with less than a majority of votes cast, with the state, year, elected winner and winning percentage.

Download this data in Excel to sort by different fields.

 

Plurality Winners in Gubernatorial Races 1946-2015 (119 total)

       

Won with 35.0-39.9% (14)

 
State Year Winner Winning %
Rhode Island 2010 Lincoln Chafee 36.10%
Maine 2010 Paul LePage 38.20%
Maine 2006 John Baldacci  38.11%
Texas 2006 Rick Perry  39.03%
Minnesota 1998 Jesse Ventura 36.99%
Maine 1994 Angus King 35.40%
Connecticut 1994 John G. Rowland 36.20%
Hawaii 1994 Benjamin J. Cayetano  36.60%
Alaska 1990 Walter J. Hickel 38.90%
Arizona 1986 Evan Mecham  39.70%
Maine 1986 John R. McKernan Jr.  39.90%
Alaska 1978 Jay S. Hammond 39.10%
Maine 1974 James B. Longley  39.10%
Utah 1956 George D. Clyde 38.20%
       

Won with 40.0-44.9% (12)

 
State Year Winner Winning %
Rhode Island 2014 Gina Raimondo 40.70%
Minnesota 2010 Mark Dayton 43.70%
Oklahoma 2002 Brad Henry  43.27%
Minnesota 2002 Tim Pawlenty 44.37%
Vermont* 2002 Jim Douglas 44.94%
Alaska 1994 Tony Knowles  41.10%
Utah 1992 Michael O. Leavitt 42.20%
Connecticut 1990 Lowell P. Weicker Jr. 40.40%
Utah 1988 Norman H. Bangerter  40.10%
New Hampshire 1972 Meldrim Thomson Jr. 41.40%
Idaho 1966 Don Samuelson  41.40%
New York 1966 Nelson A. Rockefeller 44.60%
   

Won with 45.0-49.9% (93)

 
State Year Winner Winning %
Vermont 2014 Peter Shumlin 46.36%
Alaska 2014 Bill Walker 48.10%
Florida 2014 Rick Scott 48.14%
Maine 2014 Paul LePage 48.18%
Massachusetts 2014 Charlie Baker 48.40%
Colorado 2014 John Hickenlooper 49.29%
Hawaii 2014 David Ige 49.45%
Kansas 2014 Sam Brownback 49.82%
Oregon 2014 John Kitzhaber 49.88%
Virginia 2013 Terry McAuliffe 47.75%
Indiana 2012 Mike Pence 49.59%
Montana 2012 Steve Bullock 49.03%
West Virginia 2011 Earl Ray Tomblin 49.60%
Illinois 2010 Patrick J. Quinn 46.80%
Massachusetts 2010 Deval Patrick 48.50%
Florida 2010 Rick Scott 48.90%
Ohio 2010 John Kasich 49.00%
Oregon 2010 John Kitzhaber 49.40%
Connecticut 2010 Dan Malloy 49.50%
Vermont* 2010 Peter Shumlin 49.60%
New Jersey 2009 Chris Christie 48.46%
Minnesota 2006 Tim Pawlenty 46.69%
Nevada 2006 Jim Gibbons 47.93%
Alaska 2006 Sarah Palin 48.33%
Illinois 2006 Rod Blagojevich 49.80%
Washington 2004 Christine Gregoire 48.87%
California 2003 Arnold Schwarzenegger 48.58%
Wisconsin 2002 Jim Doyle 45.09%
Maine 2002 John Baldacci 47.15%
California 2002 Gray Davis 47.26%
Arizona 2002 Janet Napolitano 48.74%
Oregon 2002 Ted Kulongoski 49.03%
Alabama 2002 Bob Riley 49.17%
New York 2002 George Pataki 49.40%
Massachusetts 2002 Mitt Romney 49.77%
Wyoming 2002 Dave Freudenthal 49.96%
New Hampshire 2000 Jeanne Shaheen 48.74%
Missouri 2000 Bob Holden 49.12%
Mississippi* 1999 Ronnie Musgrove 49.62%
Colorado 1998 Bill Owens 49.06%
New Jersey 1997 Christine Todd Whitman 46.90%
Pennsylvania 1994 Tom Ridge 45.40%
Oklahoma 1994 Frank Keating 46.90%
Rhode Island 1994 Lincoln C. Almond 47.40%
New York 1994 George Pataki 48.80%
New Mexico 1994 Gary E. Johnson 49.80%
New Jersey 1993 Christine Todd Whitman 49.30%
Oregon 1990 Barbara Roberts 45.70%
Maine 1990 John R. McKernan Jr. 46.70%
Kansas 1990 Joan Finney 48.60%
California 1990 Pete Wilson 49.20%
Texas 1990 Ann W. Richards 49.50%
Arizona 1990 Fife Symington 49.60%
Minnesota 1990 Arne Carlson 49.60%
Michigan 1990 John Engler 49.80%
Nebraska 1990 Ben Nelson 49.90%
Alaska 1986 Steve C. Cowper 47.30%
Oklahoma 1986 Henry L. Bellmon 47.50%
Idaho 1986 Cecil D. Andrus 49.90%
Hawaii 1982 George Ariyoshi 45.20%
Alaska 1982 Bill Sheffield 46.10%
California 1982 George Deukmejian 49.30%
Illinois 1982 James R. Thompson 49.40%
New Jersey 1981 Thomas H. Kean 49.50%
Maine 1978 Joseph E. Brennan 47.70%
Ohio 1978 James A. Rhodes 49.30%
Kansas 1978 John Carlin 49.40%
New Hampshire 1978 Hugh J. Gallen 49.40%
Texas 1978 William P. Clements 49.96%
Alaska 1974 Jay S. Hammond 47.70%
Ohio 1974 James A. Rhodes 48.60%
Kansas 1974 Robert F. Bennett 49.50%
New Mexico 1974 Jerry Apodaca 49.90%
Texas 1972 Dolph Briscoe 47.90%
New Hampshire 1970 Walter Peterson 46.00%
Nevada 1970 Mike O'Callaghan 48.10%
Oklahoma 1970 David Hall 48.40%
Georgia** 1966 Lester Maddox 47.40%
Maryland 1966 Spiro T. Agnew 49.50%
Alaska 1966 Walter J. Hickel 49.997%
Virginia 1965 Mills E. Godwin Jr. 47.90%
Minnesota 1962 Karl F. Rolvaag 49.70%
Massachusetts 1962 Endicott Peabody 49.90%
North Dakota 1960 William L. Guy 49.40%
Wyoming 1958 J. J. Hickey 48.90%
Connecticut 1954 Abraham A. Ribicoff 49.50%
New York 1954 Averell Harriman 49.60%
Massachusetts 1952 Christian A. Herter 49.90%
Michigan 1952 G. Mennen Williams 49.96%
Connecticut 1950 John D. Lodge 49.70%
Michigan 1950 G. Mennen Williams 49.80%
Connecticut 1948 Chester Bowles 49.30%

*Denotes an election where the candidate with a plurality was chosen by the state legislature, due to state laws that require a majority win.

**In 1966, Georgia's state legislature, given the power to choose the governor when no candidate won a majority, selected the gubernatorial candidate with the second most votes.

NOTE: Some states have used a blanket primary system for the governor's race, which is designed to ensure a majority win. Unless one candidate takes more than 50% of the vote in the first round, the top two candidates who receive the most votes advance to a runoff. Louisiana has used this system since 1977, though in 1987, gubernatorial candidate Edwin Edwards withdrew after winning the right to a runoff against Buddy Roemer. With only one candidate in the runoff, the state did not hold a second round of voting, and Roemer became governor without winning a majority of the vote.

Download Report


 

Join Us Today to Help Create a More Perfect Union

Join Us

JOIN FAIRVOTE TODAY