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US House Redistricting: Iowa Gets Lowest Marks for Proportionality

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In the coming year or so states will begin to outline plans for the redistricting process that will go into effect in 2012 after the 2010 Census results. One way to measure the 'success' of these processes is to examine to what extent the proportion of votes cast for a particular party translates into the proportion of seats won in government.

Smart Politics analyzed US House elections in the Upper Midwest since 1960 and found—collectively—the proportion of votes cast in Minnesota and Wisconsin between democrats and republicans bore a close relationship to the number of seats won between these two parties, while the number of seats won in Iowa was heavily skewed towards the Republican Party.

In Minnesota, the DFL / GOP split 54% to 46% respectively in votes cast since 1960 with the DFL having a 57% to 43% advantage in seats won during this span (105 to 80 seats).

In Wisconsin, the relationship is very similar: democrats and republicans are split 50% to 50% among the nearly 40 million votes cast for those parties since 1960, with Democrats winning a narrow majority of seats (109 to 102, or 52% to 48%).

In Iowa, the distribution is much more skewed in favor of the republicans. Republicans have a 52% to 48% advantage in votes cast, but a much larger 64% to 36% advantage in seats won (88 to 50). For example, in 1990, the GOP won 4 of the 5 US House seats, but there were actually more votes for democratic candidates (400,852) than republican candidates (385,003).

(In South Dakota, republicans have a 51.5% to 48.5% advantage in votes cast, but a 62% to 38% advantage in seats won (21 to 13). South Dakota is a special case, however, because since 1982 it only has an at-large seat, so there is only one district in the race for US House).

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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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