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Will Minnesotans Split Their Ticket in November?

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Three polls released inside of the last two weeks by the Star Tribune, Humphrey Institute, and Minnesota Public Radio all show DFL US Senate candidate Amy Klobuchar with a significant, double-digit lead over GOP nominee Mark Kennedy. These three polls also show DFL gubernatorial candidate Mike Hatch running neck and neck with Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty.

One reason Pawlenty may be running comparatively strong in his statewide race compared to Kennedy is, of course, the incumbency advantage that he enjoys. However, incumbency aside, it should not come as a surprise that Minnesotans may split their vote come this November.

In half of the eight elections since 1960 in which both gubernatorial and US Senate races were on the ballot, Minnesotans collectively split their ticket—electing one republican and one DFL candidate to these offices four times.

In 1960, 1966, and 1990, the state elected Republican governors (Elmer Andersen, Harold LeVander, Arne Carlson) and DFL senators (Hubert Humphrey, Walter Mondale, Paul Wellstone). In 1982, Minnesotans elected DFL Governor Rudy Perpich and GOP Senator Dave Durenberger.

While a lot can change in the next six weeks, 2006 may yet be another year in which the state elects a republican governor and a DFL senator. The Kennedy campaign will not be heartened by this news, but the Pawlenty camp should by now realize the state's schizophrenic political history offers him enough wiggle room to give him a strong chance at keeping his job in St. Paul.

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