Many US Governors have been elected having won their party primary or the general election with less than 50% of the vote, meaning that they won by a plurality rather than a majority. In the 1990-2004 period, there were 36 states and one territory with governors who had won either a primary or general election with less than 50% of the vote. Sixteen of these states had more than one such "plurality governor" during this time, and fourteen states had a governor elected with less than 40% in a primary or general election.
In fact, several candidates won office with less than 40% of votes in the general election. For instance, Governor Hickel (AK) received 39% in 1990, Rowland (CT) won 36% and Cayetano (HI) won 37% in 1994, and Ventura (MN) had 37% of votes when he was elected in 1998. Most notably, Independent candidate Angus King became governor of Maine in 1994 after having won just 35% of the votes cast.
See a list of current governors who won either a primary or general election by plurality.
Browse state-by-state data on gubernatorial elections won by plurality, 1990-2004.
View a table showing instances of runoffs in gubernatorial elections, where candidates avoided winning with less than 50% of the vote through second round elections.
source for these pages is The Almanac of American Politics, years 1992
through 2004 , by Michael Barone, Richard E. Cowan, and Grant Ujifusa,
Copyright of National Journal Group.