But if it's hard to know how Roberts will fare on the hustings, it's also hard to know how her rivals will fare. None of the leading Democratic hopefuls have been involved in a close, statewide race with heavy media scrutiny. And with no clear favorite, their performances will matter.
The stakes, for the Democratic Party, are high. Despite their dominant position in state politics, Democrats have held the governor's office for just four of the last 24 years. And with the Obama tide and the near-collapse of the state GOP, the party should be in strong position to end the drought.
But if the race gets nasty — and expensive — it will be difficult for the winner to prevail against a well-funded, well-rested, and well-liked Lincoln Chafee. And the party, if it's not careful, could find itself spurned again.
David Scharfenberg can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
: News Features
, Barack Obama, U.S. Democratic Party, Joseph Biden, More