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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

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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