Here's Chris Cillizza in the WashPost on the GOP's efforts to retake governor's mansions in Pa, Michigan, Ohio, Illinois and Wisconsin:
Each state is hosting a competitive gubernatorial race this fall. Republicans argue that a clean sweep (or close to it) would immediately change the electoral calculus heading into the nationwide redistricting in 2011 and President Obama's reelection race in 2012.
"With apologies to the Northeast, South, Mountain West and Left Coast, the industrial Midwest is the measure of success or failure for the Republican Party," said GOP consultant Curt Anderson, who has worked in the region on and off for the past 15 years. "We cannot win a national election without doing well in this region, and we can't be healthy as a party without doing well there."
Ten years ago, Republicans controlled the governorships in Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan. Today they hold none of those seats, after the party suffered an across-the board wipeout due, at least in part, to President George W. Bush's increasing unpopularity as the last decade wore on.
. . . In the near term, declining population in these states means they will probably lose five House seats, and possibly more, in the 2011 redistricting. Controlling the governor's mansions when those district lines are redrawn can have a decade-long impact, as the congressional districts created over the next year or so will be in place through the 2020 elections.
Looking ahead to 2012, the five states have a combined 89 electoral votes -- roughly one-third of the 270 a Republican challenger to President Obama will need to win the presidency. Charlie Black, a senior adviser to Sen. John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign and a senior political hand within the party, estimates that in 2012 "a Republican governor is worth two points to a nominee -- if they are popular and willing to mobilize their troops."