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Bush Drag Not Affecting All Republicans

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One of the greatest fears facing republican strategists in the 2006 election is that the decline in George W. Bush's approval ratings during the past few years is going to drag fellow republican incumbents down with him. While not all of Bush's rankings are in the red (his approval rating on the war on terrorism still eclipses 50% in most polls), it is true Bush's numbers are much lower nearly across the board from two years ago.

However, in the Upper Midwest, several prominent republican incumbents are not feeling the bite of the oncoming cold Bush winter. While newer republican faces in statewide elections might face a tougher hurdle in winning their respective race due to the Bush drag, seasoned incumbents appear to be coasting and are as beloved by their constituencies as ever—whether they are up for reelection in 2006 or not.

For example, in the heavily republican state of South Dakota, Bush's numbers have tumbled drastically from a net +27 approval rating (54-27) in November 2003 to just a net +1 (41-40) in July 2006 (KELO-TV / Argus Leader Poll).

However, the net approval rating of newly elected South Dakota republican US Senator John Thune has actually increased from a net 21 points in May 2005 (56-36) to a net 28 points in September 2006 (62-34) (SurveyUSA). Thune's favorability rating has also risen from a net 19 points (50-31) in October 2002 to a net 23 points in July 2006 (Argus Leader). The approval rating of South Dakota republican incumbent Governor Mike Rounds has dropped only 5 points from a very high 70 to 65 percent during that span (SurveyUSA).

In the purple state of Iowa, Bush's approval ratings have tumbled 26 points from 67% in May 2003 to 41% in September 2006 (Iowa Poll / Des Moines Register). Republican US Senator Charles Grassley's approval ratings, however, have not taken the slightest hit, increasing from 70% in September 2003 to 72% in September 2006 (Iowa Poll / Des Moines Register).

These ratings demonstrate no one should be forecasting any grand demise of the Republican Party in 2006. The potential shifting of control of the US House and US Senate is a big deal—but we're talking about a shifting of just a fraction of seats in each body: 5 or 6 percent would be an extraordinarily high number, and this is likely the ceiling for the Democratic Party come November (15-20 seats in the House, 6 seats in the Senate). Most long-serving republican incumbents should therefore feel confident in renewing their D.C. apartment leases through 2008.

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Remains of the Data

Is There a Presidential Drag On Gubernatorial Elections?

Only five of the 20 presidents to serve since 1900 have seen their party win a majority of gubernatorial elections during their administrations, and only one since JFK.

Political Crumbs

Strike Three for Miller-Meeks

Iowa Republicans had a banner day on November 4th, picking up both a U.S. Senate seat and one U.S. House seat, but Mariannette Miller-Meeks' defeat in her third attempt to oust Democrat Dave Loebsack in the 2nd CD means the GOP will not have a monopoly on the state's congressional delegation in the 114th Congress. The loss by Miller-Meeks (following up her defeats in 2008 and 2010) means major party nominees who lost their first two Iowa U.S. House races are now 0 for 10 the third time around in Iowa history. Miller-Meeks joins Democrat William Leffingwell (1858, 1868, 1870), Democrat Anthony Van Wagenen (1894, 1912 (special), 1912), Democrat James Murtagh (1906, 1914, 1916), Democrat Clair Williams (1944, 1946, 1952), Democrat Steven Carter (1948, 1950, 1956), Republican Don Mahon (1966, 1968, 1970), Republican Tom Riley (1968, 1974, 1976), Democrat Eric Tabor (1986, 1988, 1990), and Democrat Bill Gluba (1982, 1988, 2004) on the Hawkeye State's Three Strikes list.


Larry Pressler Wins the Silver

Larry Pressler may have fallen short in his long-shot, underfunded, and understaffed bid to return to the nation's upper legislative chamber, but he did end up notching the best showing for a non-major party South Dakota U.S. Senate candidate in more than 90 years. Pressler won 17.1 percent of the vote which is the best showing for an independent or third party U.S. Senate candidate in the state since 1920 when non-partisan candidate Tom Ayres won 24.1 percent in a race won by Republican Peter Norbeck. Overall, Pressler's 17.1 percent is good for the second best mark for a non-major party candidate across the 35 U.S. Senate contests in South Dakota history. Independent and third party candidates have appeared on the South Dakota U.S. Senate ballot just 25 times over the last century and only three have reached double digits: Pressler in 2014 and Ayres in 1920 and 1924 (12.1 percent). Pressler's defeat means he won't become the oldest candidate elected to the chamber in South Dakota history nor notch the record for the longest gap in service in the direct election era.


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