A lot of attention has been paid to what a shift in control of the Senate in the midterms might mean for the Affordable Care Act and other big policy issues. As ACA implementation has shifted to the states, governor's races may be just as important, particularly when it comes to whether states expand Medicaid. Six of the 23 states that have not expanded Medicaid have toss-up governor's races: Alaska, where Republican incumbent Sean Parnell is running against independent Bill Walker; Florida, the most closely watched race, where former governor Charlie Christ, now running as a Democrat, is trying to unseat Republican Gov. Rick Scott; Georgia, where incumbent Republican Nathan Deal is trying to hold off Democratic state legislator Jason Carter; Kansas, where state legislator Paul Davis is challenging Gov. Sam Brownback; and Wisconsin, where Gov. Scott Walker is being challenged by Mary Burke; and Maine, where Democratic state legislator Mike Michaud and independent Eliot Cutler are running against Gov. Paul LePage.
Democratic candidates are unanimous in their support for expanded Medicaid programs, which is not mandatory for states, thanks to a Supreme Court ruling in 2012. But a victory for Democratic gubernatorial candidates on Tuesday doesn't guarantee they'll be able to overcome opposition from lawmakers where Republicans control statehouses. Just ask Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who's now pursuing a much more modest expansion amid continued GOP opposition in his state. On the other hand, some Republican governors winning re-election on Tuesday could see the political clearance to pursue coverage expansion and the billions of dollars in federal funding that come with it.