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MN House: GOP at a Disadvantage

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After losing thirteen seats in the Minnesota State House in 2004, the republicans hold a slim 68-66 advantage over their rival DFL. Even if one puts aside the fact that the state (and national) climate is trending democratic in recent months, the GOP is already in a disadvantaged position to make gains come Election Day. The reason: the number of GOP-controlled seats that are in competitive and open districts (34) is greater than those controlled by the DFL (26). In short, there are more vulnerable republican seats than DFL seats.

More than one quarter (37) of the Gopher state's 134 house races are in 'competitive' districts—more than Iowa (15 of 100 districts) and Wisconsin (15 of 99 districts) combined. ('Competitive' districts are classified as those decided by ten points or less in the previous election cycle). Of these 37 competitive districts, the GOP holds 21 and the DFL 16. Twenty-three districts in Minnesota are classified as 'very competitive'—decided by 5 points or less in 2004, while 14 are 'competitive'—decided by between 5 and 10 points.

Republicans are also at a disadvantage in that they are forced to defend 13 of the 23 open district races in 2006.

As a result, there are more DFL incumbents running for re-election (56) for the State House than republicans (55), despite the DFL being the minority party.

On top of these obstacles, the Republican Party's problems are compounded by the current trend in Party ID within the state: according to a series a monthly polls released by SurveyUSA, the percentage of Minnesotans who identify themselves as democrats has risen from 30 percent to 39 percent from May 2005 to October 2006, while the percentage identifying themselves as republican has dropped from 35 percent to 27 percent during this span.

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Political Crumbs

No 100-Year Curse for Roberts

Defeating his Tea Party primary challenger Milton Wolf with just 48.1 percent of the vote, Pat Roberts narrowly escaped becoming the first elected U.S. Senator from Kansas to lose a renomination bid in 100 years. The last - and so far only - elected U.S. Senator to lose a Kansas primary was one-term Republican Joseph Bristow in 1914. Bristow was defeated by former U.S. Senator Charles Curtis who went on to win three terms before becoming Herbert Hoover's running mate in 1928. Only one other U.S. Senator from the Sunflower State has lost a primary since the passage of the 17th Amendment: Sheila Frahm in 1996. Frahm was appointed to fill Bob Dole's seat earlier that year and finished 13.2 points behind Sam Brownback in the three-candidate primary field. Overall, incumbent senators from Kansas have won 29 times against two defeats in the direct vote era. (Curtis also lost a primary in 1912 to Walter Stubbs, one year before the nation moved to direct elections).


The Second Time Around

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