It’s not that power in Congress isn’t important—it is. But over the long haul, the gubernatorial contests are likely to have a much bigger impact for three reasons. First, swing-state Democratic governors will have road-tested the messages best equipped to sway voters in the most important swing states. Nothing could be more valuable for our 2020 nominee.
Second, across most of the country, state officials will soon be tasked with redrawing the nation’s congressional districts. A decade ago, Republican governors helped the GOP gerrymander itself a decade’s worth of political advantage in Washington. If Democrats do well this year and again in 2020, they’ll be poised to flip that advantage back on the GOP through 2030.
Finally, in close presidential elections, a state’s political apparatus can have an outsize impact. Who knows how the 2016 campaign would have turned out if Democratic governors had controlled Michigan and Wisconsin, places where Hillary Clinton lost by three-tenths and seven-tenths of a point, respectively? Our country might be in a very different place today.