The latest Minnesota polls show the DFL surging in the US Senate race and in a dead heat in the gubernatorial race. The prospects of split ticket voting in these races was discussed a few days ago here at Smart Politics (September 25); today we reexamine this issue, in light of historical data in the Gopher state for DFL, Republican, and third party candidates across elections and offices.
Since 1990 the DFL has collectively received more votes than GOP candidates in races for president, US Senator, US House, State Senate, and State House, but the degree of DFL dominance has varied greatly depending on the office in question. During these years, the DFL has a substantial lead over the GOP in the number of votes cast for State Senate (a 9.2 point advantage), US House (9.1 points), and president (8 points), with a much narrower lead in votes cast for US Senate (2.4 points) and State House (0.2 points).
The largest difference in major party vote distribution is in the race for governor, in which republicans have a 11.1 point advantage over DFL candidates in four elections since 1990.
Third parties have had an increased profile in Minnesota since the 1990s, especially in races for governor (16.8% of all votes cast), president (11.0%), and US Senate (5.6%).
The total vote distribution by political party in Minnesota since 1990 is as follows:
President: DFL 48.5%, GOP 40.5%, 3rd Party 11.0%
Governor: DFL 36.1%, GOP 47.2%, 3rd Party 16.8%
US Senate: DFL 48.4%, GOP 46.0%, 3rd Party 5.6%
US House: DFL 52.7%, GOP 43.6%, 3rd Party 3.7%
State Senate: DFL 53.6% GOP 44.4%, 3rd Party 1.9%
State House: DFL 49.4%, GOP 49.2%, 3rd Party 1.4%
What does this quick snapshot at Minnesota historical election data tell us? The GOP has shown great strength in gubernatorial races in the face of strong DFL support in races for other major political offices. This suggests the state going DFL in the vote for senate in 2006 while still sticking with Pawlenty in the Governor's race fits in with the state's recent voting patterns.