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National Politics


The 6 Times President Obama Mentioned the Pope

What do Dave Brubeck, Lech Walesa, the Queen of England and Nelson Mandela have in common?

America Held Hostage: The Political Rhetoric of Barack Obama

Immigration. Unemployment benefits. Health care. Taxes. Obama has dusted off and stretched the 'hostage metaphor' to advance his policy agenda more than any president in history.

Duckworth, Castro Lead House Freshman Class in Early Media Buzz

While most new U.S. Representatives have lain low during their first month in office, a half-dozen freshmen have received more than half the media coverage of their entire class.

Western Women: Regional Gender Disparities in Congressional Representation

Women have been elected to the U.S. House from western states at 2.5 times the rate as the rest of the country over the last century, with the region electing nearly 1/3 of all female-held seats with just 1/7 of all House seats.

The Birth States of U.S. Representatives (113th Congress)

Eight U.S. House delegations boast an all homegrown membership, led by Iowa and Mississippi; five delegations come in at 25 percent or less including Virginia and Minnesota.

FOX Still Shunned at Obama Press Conferences

The favorite news outlet of conservatives ranks just ninth in presser questions in Obama's first term, getting to ask questions at only half the rate of the Big 3 broadcast networks.

The Literary Namesakes of US Congressmen

One of your ancestors might have been represented by James Joyce, John Milton, Thomas Eliot, or John Dryden on Capitol Hill.

The Top Five Smart Politics Reports of 2012

A look back at a few of the most illuminating, odd, and controversial reports published by Smart Politics this year.

Walter Mondale's Recommendations for Filibuster Reform

What rules could be introduced in the Senate to ensure the filibuster is no longer a 'strategy for hijacking' the chamber and 'demoralizing the country?'

More than Half of Senators in 113th Congress First Served in House

Six new faces entering the Senate in January served in the House and 51 overall; Hawaii, Virginia, and Massachusetts have the highest all-time rate of choosing Senators with House experience.

Women Reelected to US Senate at Same Rate as Men

A study of more than 325 sitting U.S. Senators on the ballot since 1990 finds women have been reelected at exactly same rate as men - 87 percent.

Record Book Near Misses in the 2012 Presidential Election

The Romney-Obama contest ranked among the Top 5 most competitive races ever in three states (AK, FL, NC) and the Top 5 least competitive in six (HI, MD, OK, UT, WV, WY).

Study: Governors Have No Pull Helping Presidential Nominees Carry Their State

States have voted more frequently for a presidential nominee of a different party than its sitting governor across 600 contests since 1968; even more so in battleground states.

Forerunners of the Fiscal Cliff

Chuck Grassley, Jeff Flake, Jim DeMint, and Kent Conrad have warned about budgetary fiscal cliffs for years.

Death of the Battlegrounds? The 2012 Election in History

The 2012 presidential election is the only cycle since the birth of the two-party system in 1828 to be decided by less than 15 points nationally and yet have less than 10 percent of its contests decided by fewer than five points.

20 Presidential Tickets That Lost Both Home States

Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are not alone in failing to carry their home states this election cycle, although theirs is the first such ticket in 40 years.

Projections: 2012 Presidential Contest

All eyes on Virginia, Florida, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania...you know the rest...

Final Battleground Maps: 114 Electoral Votes Up for Grabs

A dozen media outlets still yield 10 different battleground state maps less than a week from Election Day, with an average of nine states and 114 electoral votes hanging in the balance.

Which State Will Host the Most Closely Decided Presidential Race in 2012?

Since 1824, Kentucky and Maryland have each hosted the closest statewide presidential contests five times; Ohio last did so in back-to-back cycles in 1944 and 1948.

On Presidents and Bayonets: A Historical Review

Ronald Reagan talked about bayonets more than twice as frequently as any other president; most presidential rhetoric casts the weapon as a symbol for tyranny and unjust force.



Political Crumbs

Six for Thirteen

Collin Peterson remarked last month that he is leaning to run for reelection to Minnesota's 7th Congressional District in 2016. If he does and is victorious, he will creep even closer to the top of the list of the longest-serving U.S. Representatives in Minnesota history. The DFL congressman is only the sixth Minnesotan to win at least 13 terms to the U.S. House of the 135 elected to the chamber in state history. Peterson trails 18-term DFLer Jim Oberstar (1975-2011), 16-term Republicans Harold Knutson (1917-1949) and August Andresen (1925-1933; 1935-1958), and 14-term DFLers Martin Sabo (1979-2007) and John Blatnik (1947-1974). Andresen died in office, Sabo and Blatnik retired, and Knutson and Oberstar were defeated at the ballot box in 1948 and 2010 respectively. At 70 years, 7 months, 11 days through Monday, Peterson is currently the ninth oldest Gopher State U.S. Representative in history. DFLer Rick Nolan of the 8th CD is the seventh oldest at 71 years, 1 month, 23 days.


Seeing Red

Congressman Nick Rahall's failed bid for a 20th term in West Virginia this cycle, combined with a narrow loss by Nick Casey to Alex Mooney in Shelley Moore Capito's open seat, means that West Virginia Democrats will be shut out of the state's U.S. House delegation for the first time in over 90 years. The Republican sweep by two-term incumbent David McKinley in the 1st CD, Mooney in the 2nd, and Evan Jenkins over Rahall in the 3rd marks the first time the GOP has held all seats in the chamber from West Virginia since the Election of 1920. During the 67th Congress (1921-1923) all six seats from the state were controlled by the GOP. Since the Election of 1922, Democrats have won 76 percent of all U.S. House elections in the Mountain State - capturing 172 seats compared to 54 for the GOP.


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