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MN: The Decline of Independents?

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As previously mentioned at Smart Politics (October 2, 2006), Minnesota has led the Upper Midwest in successful third party candidacies for more than a decade. Third parties spring up for a number of reasons, not the least of which is a decline in identification with the two major parties.

During the Jesse Ventura years, there was a noticeable rise in the number of Minnesotans who identified themselves as "Independents"—reaching a height of 36 percent in 2001 (11 points more than Republicans and 5 points more than Democrats), according to a study of more than three-dozen Minnesota Polls since 2000.

However, the number of self-identified independents has dropped in four of the five years since, with 2006 levels demonstrating a 27 percent decline from 2001: in 2006 only 26 percent of Minnesotans describe themselves as independents.

Republicans and Democrats have equally benefited from this trend—with a five-point rise in self-identified republicans and democrats from 2001 to 2006. This news cannot be heartening to the Independence Party and its 2006 candidates, whose support relies heavily on political independents.

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Remains of the Data

Which States Own the Best Track Record in Backing Eventual GOP Presidential Nominees?

Nine states (each with primaries) have an unblemished record in voting for the eventual Republican nominee since 1976 - and not all host contests on the back end of the calendar.

Political Crumbs

Evolving?

When Scott Walker "punted" back in February after being asked if he was comfortable with the idea of evolution he added, "That's a question a politician shouldn't be involved in one way or the other." However, it may very well be a question that is asked at one of the upcoming GOP debates this year. In South Carolina during the first GOP debate in 2012, FOX News' Juan Williams asked Tim Pawlenty, "Do you equate the teaching of creationism with the teaching of evolution as the basis for what should be taught for our nation's schools?" Pawlenty replied, "There should be room in the curriculum for study of intelligent design" but that it was up to the local school districts if it should be in a science class or comparative theory class. At the fourth Republican debate held in California, Jon Huntsman addressed the GOP becoming "anti-science" thusly: "Listen, when you make comments that fly in the face of what 98 out of 100 climate scientists have said, when you call into question the science of evolution, all I'm saying is that, in order for the Republican Party to win, we can't run from science. We can't run from mainstream conservative philosophy."


73 Months and Counting

January's preliminary Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers show Minnesota's unemployment rate of 3.7 percent was once again lower than Wisconsin's 5.0 percent. That marks the 73rd consecutive month in which Minnesota has boasted a lower jobless rate than its neighbor to the east dating back to January 2009 including each of the last 67 months by at least one point. The Gopher State has now edged Wisconsin in the employment border battle for 204 of the last 216 months dating back to February 1997. Wisconsin only managed a lower unemployment rate than Minnesota for the 12 months of 2008 during this 18-year span.


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