A Republican is expected to win the governor's race in MississippiTuesday and a Democrat in Kentucky, maintaining the status quo in the two states and offering few clues of trends for 2012, analysts said.
Kentucky Democratic incumbent Gov. Steve Beshear is the overwhelming favorite to win a second term after his Republican opponent, David Williams, faltered during the campaign.
Mississippi Republican Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant is widely seen as the likely victor there after he was endorsed by popular outgoing Governor Haley Barbour, who earlier this year decided against running for president.
In the unlikely event that the Democratic candidate, Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny DuPree, scores an upset victory on Tuesday, he would be the first African-American to win a statewide election in Mississippi in modern times.
"I expect Bryant to win by 54 to 56 percent," said Marvin King, assistant professor of politics at the University of Mississippi. "If he doesn't, I'll be shocked."
Both major parties will have something to tout if the outcome follows the form chart. Democrats can point to Beshear's re-election as evidence that they can win in the South with the right candidate despite President Barack Obama's unpopularity there.
Republicans can point to their dominance in the region, where in addition to Mississippi, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal won re-election last month with some two-thirds of the vote in an open primary.
Nationwide, Republicans now hold 29 governorships, Democrats 20 and Rhode Island has an Independent governor, according to the National Governors Association.
The latest Louisville Courier-Journal/WHAS11 Bluegrass Poll, published on Wednesday, showed Beshear with 54 percent of the vote and Williams with 29 percent.
The contest in Mississippi has lacked fireworks. Both men support a proposed constitutional amendment that would make Mississippi the first state in the country to define a fertilized egg as a legal person, thereby outlawing abortion.
Voter turnout is expected to be low in both states, which is typical in off-year elections.
© 2014 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.