Democrats on defense in 2012 governors' races

BETH FOUHY Associated Press Published:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Democrats are playing defense in governors' races in 2012, protecting eight seats -- including conservative states like North Carolina and Montana -- while Republicans are safeguarding just four. But one of those is in Wisconsin, where a recall effort against incumbent Scott Walker has emerged as a national test of the confrontational measures many GOP governors have taken to balance state budgets.

Both parties agree the landscape is quite different than in 2010, where 36 states elected governors at the height of the economic downturn and amid roiling voter anger against government spending and debt. Republicans netted 6 new seats that year, including important bellwether states including Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin.