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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

Plurality-Winning Governors Elected At Century-Long High Water Mark

The rate of gubernatorial candidates elected without the support of a majority of voters is at its highest level since the 1910s.

Political Crumbs

Seeing Red

Congressman Nick Rahall's failed bid for a 20th term in West Virginia this cycle, combined with a narrow loss by Nick Casey to Alex Mooney in Shelley Moore Capito's open seat, means that West Virginia Democrats will be shut out of the state's U.S. House delegation for the first time in over 90 years. The Republican sweep by two-term incumbent David McKinley in the 1st CD, Mooney in the 2nd, and Evan Jenkins over Rahall in the 3rd marks the first time the GOP has held all seats in the chamber from West Virginia since the Election of 1920. During the 67th Congress (1921-1923) all six seats from the state were controlled by the GOP. Since the Election of 1922, Democrats have won 76 percent of all U.S. House elections in the Mountain State - capturing 172 seats compared to 54 for the GOP.


Home Field Advantage?

When the 114th Congress convenes in a few days, Maine will be represented by one home-grown U.S. Representative: Waterville-born Republican Bruce Poliquin. With the departure of Millinocket-born Mike Michaud, who launched a failed gubernatorial bid, the Pine Tree State was poised to send a House delegation to D.C. without any Maine-born members for the first time since 1821. Three-term U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree (born in Minnesota) coasted to reelection as expected, however Poliquin edged Kentucky-born Emily Cain by 5.3 points to keep the streak alive. Since 1876, a total of 208 of the 222 candidates elected to the nation's lower legislative chamber from the state have been born in Maine, or 94 percent.


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