Story Highlights• CNN projects Arnold Schwarzenegger will win re-election in California
• Democrats projected to win six governorships held by Republicans
• CNN projects incumbent Republicans win in Georgia, Nebraska, Texas
• Voters in 36 states choosing governors.
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(CNN) -- Six governorships switched from Republican to Democratic in Tuesday's election, giving Democrats control of a majority of top state posts for the first time in 12 years.
Democrats were projected to need a net pickup of four governorships in 36 races to get to 26.
With polls closed in every state, CNN projected winners in 31 of 36 races, with Democrats winning at least six new governorships:
Democrats are set to hold onto governorships in Arizona, Illinois, Kansas, Michigan, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee and Wyoming. (A complete rundown of the governors' races)
Republicans were retaining governor's offices in Alabama, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Nebraska, South Carolina and Texas, according to CNN projections. (Watch South Carolina governor's election day goof -- 2:09)
While most of the 13 Republican incumbents running Tuesday are expected to win re-election, a wave of retirements left the GOP with the task of defending nine open seats, where most of their losses were expected.
Democrats only had to defend one open seat, in Iowa, where Democratic Secretary of State Chet Culver was projected to beat with Republican U.S. Rep. Jim Nussle.
Unlike controlling the House or Senate, having a majority of governorships has little practical effect, because governors operate independently of each other. However, a switch would give Democrats bragging rights and access to state political organizations that could be helpful in the 2008 presidential election.
The most significant silver lining for Republicans may come in the battle for California, the night's biggest gubernatorial prize. Despite the Golden State's Democratic leanings, actor-turned-politician Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is projected to win his re-election bid against Democratic challenger, state Treasurer Phil Angelides.
Other competitive races now held by Republicans include Alaska, Idaho, Minnesota, Nevada and Rhode Island, which are still too close to call.
Eliot Spitzer celebrates with Sen. Hillary Clinton. CNN projects Spitzer to win New York's governor race.