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PoliGraph: Dayton voting claim hard to back up

False image.GIFDuring his recent rounds on radio and television, Gov. Mark Dayton has been touting the fact that neither he nor his Republican colleagues in the House and Senate have a mandate to govern because no one got the majority of the vote.

"I was elected with 43 percent of the people who voted in the last election and the Republican majorities in the Senate and the House were elected with 41 percent and 40 percent respectively," he said during an interview on TPT's Almanac last month.

He repeated a similar claim Tuesday on MPR News' Midday.

Dayton's numbers don't hold up.

The Evidence

Of the nearly 2.1 million votes cast for governor in 2010, Dayton got roughly 919,000 votes - or about 43 percent. So he gets that percentage right.

About 2 million people voted for candidates for the Minnesota Senate. Of those votes, 49.72 were for a Republican; not a majority, but a lot closer than Dayton's claim.

Additionally, roughly 2 million people voted in Minnesota House races. Of those, 50.44 percent cast ballots for a Republican.

Dayton's staff responded, saying that he's talking about the percentage of voters who elected winning candidates - the votes that helped the GOP take both chambers.

By that measure, Dayton's contention would have been better served if he had the percentages right -- 35 percent went to winning GOP candidates in both chambers, not "41 percent and 40 percent respectively."

The Verdict

Dayton only considered the percentage of voters who cast ballots for winning candidates. His comparison fails to point out that far more people voted for Republican legislators in the 2010 election.

The governor's statement is misleading to the point that it earns a false on the PoliGraph test.

-- By Catharine Richert


MPR News' Midday, March 1, 2011

TPT, Almanac, Feb. 18, 2011

Minnesota Secretary of State, General Election Results for Governor, last updated Jan. 19, 2011, accessed March 3, 2011

Minnesota Secretary of State, Senate Race Results, accessed March 4, 2011

Minnesota Secretary of State, House Race Results, accessed March 4, 2011

Interview, Katie Tinucci, spokeswoman, Mark Dayton, March 3, 2011

Interview, Steven Schier, professor, Carleton College, March 4, 2011

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