Democratic predominance among the nation's governors will continue for at least the next two years. Come January, however, the ranks of Republican state chief executives will grow from the current low of 15 to at least 18 and perhaps 19.
Of the 13 governorships at stake in the Nov. 6 elections, the GOP won eight, Democrats four, and one is in doubt, with the unofficial vote tally showing a slight lead for the Democratic gubernatorial candidate.
The turnover of state executive-chair occupants, although a lot smaller than two years ago, is more than double that of 1980, the last presidential election year.
The widest margin of victory was scored by Democrat Ted Schwinden of Montana, who won a second term with 70 percent of the total votes over Republican state Sen. Pat Goodover.
Also reelected, but by smaller margins ranging from 52 to 67 percent, were Democrat Bill Clinton of Arkansas and Republicans Robert Orr of Indiana and John Sununu of New Hampshire.
The biggest gubernatorial upset was in Washington State, where incumbent Republican John Spellman lost to Democratic challenger Booth Gardner, 47 percent to 53 percent.
Washington's governor-elect, a businessman who has served as Pierce County (Tacoma) executive since 1981, is heir to a lumber industry fortune. He promised to run the fiscally squeezed state like a successful business enterprise.
In North Dakota, Democratic state Rep. George Sinner of Casselton turned the political tables on first-term GOP Gov. Allen I. Olson, 56 to 44 percent.
In Utah, where Democratic Gov. Scott Matheson is stepping down voluntarily, Republican Norman H. Bangerter, speaker of the state House of Representatives, bested Democratic former US Rep. Wayne Owens, 56 to 44 percent.
Rhode Island, where fourth-term Democratic Gov. J. Joseph Garrahy is retiring voluntarily from the executive suite, elected Edward DiPrete, Republican Mayor of Cranston, to succeed him. Mr. DePrete easily downed Democratic state Treasurer Anthony Solomon, by 60 to 40 percent.
West Virginians, whose second-term Democratic governor, John D. Rockefeller IV, was ineligible to seek reelection and instead successfully ran for the US Senate, voters chose Republican Arch Moore, a former state chief executive, for the next four years. He scored a 53-to-47 percent victory over Democratic challenger Clyde See Jr., the speaker of the state House of Representatives.
In North Carolina Republican US Rep. James G. Martin beat Democratic state Attorney General Rufus Edmisten, who had been considered the preelection front-runner, by 54 to 46 percent.
Delaware chose Lt. Gov. Michael Castle to succeed fellow Republican Gov. Pierre S. duPont, who could not succeed himself under state law. The new GOP governor-elect registered a 55-to-45 percent victory over the Democratic nominee , former state Supreme Court Justice William T. Quillen.
Missouri's GOP Gov. Christoper S. Bond similarly could not succeed himself, but a fellow Republican, state Attorney General John Ashcroft, won out over Democratic Lt. Gov. Kenneth J. Rothman, 58 to 43 percent.
The year's closest gubernatorial election was in Vermont, where former Democratic Lt. Gov. Madeleine Kunin apparently won but could face a recount. The Republican candidate was Republican state Attorney General John J. Easton Jr. Fourth-term GOP Gov. Richard A. Snelling did not seek reelection.
The reelection of Democratic Gov. William Clinton in Arkansas gives him a third two-year term. Two years ago he unseated Republican Gov. Frank White, who had upended him in 1980. With 63 percent of this year's gubernatorial vote, Mr. Clinton outdistanced Republican challenger Woody Freeman, a Jonesboro contractor.
New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu coasted to a second two-year term over Democrat Chris Spirou, minority floor leader of the state House of Representatives. The margin was nearly 2 to 1.
In Indiana, Republican Gov. Robert D. Orr bested Democratic state Sen. W. Wayne Townsend, 52 to 48 percent.