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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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Remains of the Data

No Free Passes: States With 2 Major Party Candidates in Every US House Race

Indiana has now placed candidates from both major parties on the ballot in a nation-best 189 consecutive U.S. House races, with New Hampshire, Minnesota, Idaho, and Montana also north of 100 in a row.

Political Crumbs

Gubernatorial Highs and Lows

Two sitting governors currently hold the record for the highest gubernatorial vote ever received in their respective states by a non-incumbent: Republican Matt Mead of Wyoming (65.7 percent in 2010) and outgoing GOPer Dave Heineman of Nebraska (73.4 percent in 2006). Republican Gary Herbert of Utah had not previously won a gubernatorial contest when he notched a state record 64.1 percent for his first victory in 2010, but was an incumbent at the time after ascending to the position in 2009 after the early departure of Jon Huntsman. Meanwhile, two sitting governors hold the record in their states for the lowest mark ever recorded by a winning gubernatorial candidate (incumbent or otherwise): independent-turned-Democrat Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island (36.1 percent in 2010) and Democrat Terry McAuliffe of Virginia (47.8 percent in 2013).


An Idaho Six Pack

Two-term Idaho Republican Governor Butch Otter only polled at 39 percent in a recent PPP survey of the state's 2014 race - just four points ahead of Democratic businessman A.J. Balukoff. Otter's low numbers reflect his own struggles as a candidate (witness his weak primary win against State Senator Russ Fulcher) combined with the opportunity for disgruntled Idahoans to cast their votes for one of four third party and independent candidates, who collectively received the support of 12 percent of likely voters: Libertarian John Bujak, the Constitution Party's Steve Pankey, and independents Jill Humble and Pro-Life (aka Marvin Richardson). The six candidate options in a gubernatorial race sets an all-time record in the Gem State across the 46 elections conducted since statehood. The previous high water mark of five candidates was reached in seven previous cycles: 1902, 1904, 1908, 1912, 1914, 1966, and 2010.


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