The presidential race wasn’t the only surprise on election night. In an evening full of weird, the 12 gubernatorial contests produced some unexpected results. In many ways, Governors’ races went full circle this cycle. At the start, it seemed like Republicans were poised to pick up three to four seats. They had a number of advantages, including getting to play offense as Democrats defended eight of the 12 seats up. There were four Democratic-held open seats, two of which were in states that Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney carried in 2012 (Missouri and West Virginia), and a third in a swing state (New Hampshire). Only one Republican-held seat – Gov. Pat McCrory in North Carolina – seemed to be in peril. As the cycle progressed, it appeared that the playing field wasn’t going to be quite so kind to Republicans. Indiana Gov. Mike Pence’s decision to join the GOP presidential ticket put that race in play. Protracted and competitive primaries in New Hampshire and Vermont turned those general elections into sprints. In Montana, Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock seemed to seize
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