Republicans picked up a key seat in North Carolina, flipping a state that hasn't elected a GOP governor since the 1980s, according to CNN projections.

Eleven states are holding gubernatorial races Tuesday, in which Democrats are defending eights seats; Republicans three.

CNN has projected Democratic governors in Vermont and Delaware -- Peter Shumlin and Jack Markell -- won re-election.

In North Carolina, Republican candidate Pat McCrory bested Walter Dalton, the sitting lieutenant governor, CNN has projected.

McCrory, who will replace outgoing Democratic Gov. Beverly Perdue, would be the first Republican governor elected in North Carolina since 1988.

Of other seats in play, Republicans, who already have an edge over Democrats at the statehouse level, look to have the advantage.

"They are directly confronting long-term entitlement costs, and making locally difficult decisions to balance their budgets while holding the line on taxes," Mike Schrimpf, spokesman for the Republican Governors Association, said about GOP governors. "And they are rewarded (for it)."

If projections bear out and Republicans grab seats in addition to retaining the three they are defending, they could conceivably hold the governorships of anywhere between 30 and 33 states after Election Day. The all-time high for the GOP was 34 seats in the 1920s.

Such an advantage would fortify the Republican position against Democratic policies like Obamacare, and give them enormous influence in Washington -- even if Mitt Romney doesn't win the White House.

Among the tightest gubernatorial races are Washington, Montana and New Hampshire.

Here are snapshots of each race:

Delaware

Gov. Jack Markell (D) vs. Jeff Cragg (R)

CNN has projected Democratic Gov. Jack Markell will be serving a second term, beating his Republican opponent, Jeff Cragg.

Delaware has become an increasingly reliable Democratic state and with the defeat of former Rep. Mike Castle in the 2010 U.S. Senate primary, the state now has no Republicans in statewide elected office. Cragg, a small-business owner from Wilmington was unlikely to change the GOP's fortunes, especially in a presidential election year with Vice President Joe Biden, a Delaware native, on the Democratic ticket.

Indiana

(Open seat) -- Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) is term-limited

Rep. Mike Pence (R) vs. John Gregg (D) vs. Rupert Boneham (Libertarian)

Six-term GOP Rep. Mike Pence mulled a 2012 presidential bid but opted instead to run for governor to replace term-limited Republican incumbent Mitch Daniels. His Democratic opponent is John Gregg, the former Indiana House speaker. Pence's years in Congress and on the Sunday talk show circuit, as well as his brief foray in near-presidential politics, have given him a relatively high profile for a state candidate. That, plus Indiana's Republican-friendly state voting trends, gives him a leg up over Gregg. Republicans control the governorship, both U.S. Senate seats and a majority of U.S. House seats.