In 2018, four winning gubernatorial candidates—two Democrats and two Republicans—received a record-high share of the vote for a gubernatorial candidate of their party in state history. Another three gubernatorial winners—all Republicans—came within five percentage points of breaking such a record.
The candidate who surpassed his party’s state record by the greatest margin was Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) of Arkansas. Hutchinson’s 65.3 percent of the vote not only exceeded by 9.9 percentage points his victory for his first term in 2014 but broke the all-time record for Arkansas Republicans set by Mike Huckabee (R) in 1998. Huckabee received 59.8 percent of the vote that year.
Hawaii Gov. David Ige (D) won re-election with 62.7 percent of the vote, surpassing his 2014 performance by 13.2 percentage points. The previous record for vote share by a Democratic governor in Hawaii was the 59.8 percent received by John Waihee (D) in 1990.
In California, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) was elected with 61.9 percent of the vote. The previous record, set by Newsom’s predecessor Jerry Brown (D) in 2014, was 60.0 percent.
Wyoming state Treasurer Mark Gordon rounds out the list of record-breakers; his 67.1 percent of the vote bested a Wyoming Republican record set by his predecessor Matt Mead (R) in 2010 by a margin of 1.2 percentage points. Mead received 65.7 percent of the vote in the state’s gubernatorial election in 2010.
Three other winners—all first-term Republicans seeking re-election—came within five percentage points of breaking state party records. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) received 55.4 percent of the vote but fell 1.9 percentage points short of the record set in 1950 by Theodore McKeldin (R). In Alabama, Kay Ivey (R) came within 4.1 percentage points of the record her predecessor Robert Bentley (R) set in 2014. Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) ran 5.0 percentage points behind the record set in 1998 by Jane Dee Hull (R).
There were also three winning gubernatorial candidates—two Democrats and one Republican—who won despite falling more than 30 percentage points short of their all-time state party records. Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) received 53.3 percent of the vote—37.9 percentage points behind the 91.2 percent won by Stevens Mason (D) in 1835. In Vermont, Gov. Phil Scott (R) won re-election with 55.2 percent of the vote, 33.3 percentage points less than Frederick Holbrook’s (R) 1862 victory. In Illinois, Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s (D) 54.4 percent win was 32.3 percentage points less than Augustus French’s (D) 1848 victory.
Out of all 36 gubernatorial winners in 2018, the three who received the greatest share of the vote were Mark Gordon (R-Wyo.) with 67.1 percent, Charlie Baker (R-Mass.) with 66.6 percent, and Asa Hutchinson (R-Ark.) with 65.3 percent. The three who won with the lowest percentage of the vote were Laura Kelly (D-Kan.) with 48 percent and Steve Sisolak (D-Nev.) and Ned Lamont (D-Conn.) with 49.4 percent each.