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A Tale of (Two?) States: Demographic Support for Republican Gubernatorial Candidates in MN and WI Strikingly Similar

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The 2006 gubernatorial races in Minnesota and Wisconsin had key similarities: 1-term incumbents defending their seats with job approval rankings hovering around 50%. Pundits viewed seats in both states to be very vulnerable.

Despite these similarities, the candidacies of Republican challenger Mark Green in Wisconsin and GOP incumbent Tim Pawlenty in Minnesota were quite different. Green's platform was much more closely aligned with conservatives and the 'religious right' while Pawlenty flaunted more 'moderate credentials.' However, upon examining exit poll data conducted in each state, the level of support attributed to republican candidates in the Gopher and Badger States were quite striking across several key demographics.

For starters, Green and Pawlenty each received 48% of the white vote in their respective states and nearly an equal level of support from males (50% for Pawlenty, 49% for Green).

Voters in different age groups also spoke with one voice across the two states: Pawlenty and Green received nearly identical support of 18-29 year-olds (41% for Pawlenty, 40% for Green), 45-59 year olds (46% for each) and voters 60 years and older (44% for each). Voters age 30-44 voted for 52% for Pawlenty and 50% for Green.

The GOP gubernatorial candidates fared equally poorly among those earning less than $50,000 per year (36% for Pawlenty, 35% for Green) and fairly well among those earning $50,000 per year or more (51% for Pawlenty, 50% for Green).

Religious voter support for these republican candidates was also quite similar in each state: 53% of Protestants went for Pawlenty and 53% went for Green; Catholics votes 49% for Pawlenty and 48% for Green. Those who attended church more than weekly lent nearly identical support to Pawlenty (69%) and Green (70%).

Pawlenty and Green each received 8% of the Democratic vote in their respective states, while voters who strongly approved of George W. Bush's job performance came out strong for both Pawlenty (93%) and Green (92%).

Pawlenty (34%) and Green (35%) similarly suffered among voters who felt the war in Iraq was extremely important to their vote. Each candidate fared much better among those who stressed terrorism (51% support to each) and the economy (51% support to each) as very important issues for their vote.

While the political climate in Minnesota and Wisconsin is fairly similar overall, it is interesting that republican candidates with noticeably different platforms would fare so similarly among key demographic groups in their respective states.

Previous post: Gubernatorial Approval Ratings Rise Noticeably After Elections
Next post: Wisconsin State Legislative Recount Summary

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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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