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Third Parties: Minnesota Leads the Pace in US House Races

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Minnesota's historical success of placing third party candidates on the ballot usually begins and ends with Jesse Ventura. In a report released earlier this summer, the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance also showed Ventura's legacy in sustaining third party success in the state.

'Success' is, of course, a relative term: for third parties it is first to get on the ballot and second to make at least a ripple in the outcome of the race (receiving a just few percent of the vote can often alter the shape of an election).

But the prominence of third parties in the Gopher State extends back well before the Ventura years. Take, for example, US House races. Since 1960 nearly one-quarter (23%) of General Election House elections had third party candidates who received at least 2% of the vote (43 of 185 races). This is by far more than any other state in the Upper Midwest. In fact, it is more than Iowa (3%), South Dakota (9%) and Wisconsin (8%) combined.

Third party candidates for will also be peppered throughout most Minnesota US House races in 2006, including candidates from the Independence, Green, Constitution, Socialist Workers, and Unity parties. A more detailed examination of these candidates will be posted here at Smart Politics in the coming weeks.

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Remains of the Data

Who Has Won the Most Votes in US Senate Electoral History?

Only three of the Top 10 and nine of the Top 50 vote-getters of all time are currently serving in the chamber.

Political Crumbs

Six for Thirteen

Collin Peterson remarked last month that he is leaning to run for reelection to Minnesota's 7th Congressional District in 2016. If he does and is victorious, he will creep even closer to the top of the list of the longest-serving U.S. Representatives in Minnesota history. The DFL congressman is only the sixth Minnesotan to win at least 13 terms to the U.S. House of the 135 elected to the chamber in state history. Peterson trails 18-term DFLer Jim Oberstar (1975-2011), 16-term Republicans Harold Knutson (1917-1949) and August Andresen (1925-1933; 1935-1958), and 14-term DFLers Martin Sabo (1979-2007) and John Blatnik (1947-1974). Andresen died in office, Sabo and Blatnik retired, and Knutson and Oberstar were defeated at the ballot box in 1948 and 2010 respectively. At 70 years, 7 months, 11 days through Monday, Peterson is currently the ninth oldest Gopher State U.S. Representative in history. DFLer Rick Nolan of the 8th CD is the seventh oldest at 71 years, 1 month, 23 days.


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.


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