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Gubernatorial Approval Ratings Rise Noticeably After Elections

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Approval ratings for all four Upper Midwest governors rose noticeably in polls conducted by SurveyUSA directly after Election Day (November 8-11). All three incumbent governors on the ballot in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and South Dakota were victorious, and the Democrats retained control of the Iowa executive branch with Chet Culver replacing outgoing governor Tom Vilsack. Two governors received bounces so strong that it launched them to record or near record approval ratings.

In Wisconsin, Democratic governor Jim Doyle saw his job approval rating shoot up 9 points, from 46% to 55%, after languishing below 50% in 17 of 18 polls conducted by SurveyUSA dating back to May 2005. This is the highest level of approval Doyle has received by Wisconsinites in this organization's one and a half years of polling.

In South Dakota, Republican governor Mike Rounds's job rating climbed 6 points, from 64% to 70% - reaching the 70% milestone for the first time since February 2006 after he signed the state's controversial abortion ban into law.

In Minnesota, Republican governor Tim Pawlenty's rating rose 4 points, from 45% to 49%. (Although this level still marked the fifth lowest rating for newly re-elected governor in the 19 polls conducted by SurveyUSA).

Even departing Iowa Democratic Governor Tom Vilsack saw his approval rating rise 6 points from 52% to 58% -- his highest rating since March 2006 and second highest rating since SurveyUSA began monthly polling of gubernatorial ratings in May 2005.

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Remains of the Data

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Political Crumbs

Strike Three for Miller-Meeks

Iowa Republicans had a banner day on November 4th, picking up both a U.S. Senate seat and one U.S. House seat, but Mariannette Miller-Meeks' defeat in her third attempt to oust Democrat Dave Loebsack in the 2nd CD means the GOP will not have a monopoly on the state's congressional delegation in the 114th Congress. The loss by Miller-Meeks (following up her defeats in 2008 and 2010) means major party nominees who lost their first two Iowa U.S. House races are now 0 for 10 the third time around in Iowa history. Miller-Meeks joins Democrat William Leffingwell (1858, 1868, 1870), Democrat Anthony Van Wagenen (1894, 1912 (special), 1912), Democrat James Murtagh (1906, 1914, 1916), Democrat Clair Williams (1944, 1946, 1952), Democrat Steven Carter (1948, 1950, 1956), Republican Don Mahon (1966, 1968, 1970), Republican Tom Riley (1968, 1974, 1976), Democrat Eric Tabor (1986, 1988, 1990), and Democrat Bill Gluba (1982, 1988, 2004) on the Hawkeye State's Three Strikes list.


Larry Pressler Wins the Silver

Larry Pressler may have fallen short in his long-shot, underfunded, and understaffed bid to return to the nation's upper legislative chamber, but he did end up notching the best showing for a non-major party South Dakota U.S. Senate candidate in more than 90 years. Pressler won 17.1 percent of the vote which is the best showing for an independent or third party U.S. Senate candidate in the state since 1920 when non-partisan candidate Tom Ayres won 24.1 percent in a race won by Republican Peter Norbeck. Overall, Pressler's 17.1 percent is good for the second best mark for a non-major party candidate across the 35 U.S. Senate contests in South Dakota history. Independent and third party candidates have appeared on the South Dakota U.S. Senate ballot just 25 times over the last century and only three have reached double digits: Pressler in 2014 and Ayres in 1920 and 1924 (12.1 percent). Pressler's defeat means he won't become the oldest candidate elected to the chamber in South Dakota history nor notch the record for the longest gap in service in the direct election era.


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