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Presence and Impact of Third Party Candidates in MN House Races Declining

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For a number of years State House races in Minnesota were peppered with a significant number of third party or independent candidates. In 2006, however, the presence of these non-major party candidates was the lowest in a decade.

In 1998 there were 18 non-major party candidates on the ballot in State House races, averaging 9.0% of the vote in districts in which they were on the ballot.

In 2000 there were 32 such candidates, averaging 9.8% of the vote.

The 2002 election saw a record number of third party candidates—43—though the average support dropped a bit to 8.7%.

In 2004 there were 30 third party or independent candidates on the ballot, averaging 8.2% of the vote.

In 2006 there were only 11 non-major party candidates in State House races. Their impact was also at a decade-long low: averaging just 6.6% of the vote.

Why is Minnesota witnessing a decline in third parties? The strength of the state's Independence Party is the likely target of debate—although that party did field several candidates in statewide and federal races. Other possible explanations could be the Minnesota voter today sees a bigger difference between the Republicans and the DFL—thereby creating less of a need or groundswell for third-party candidates to emerge in a particular district. The Independence Party itself also could be seen as more closely aligned to the DFL in 2006 as compared to six or eight years ago—with democrats claiming to advance a more fiscally responsible agenda.

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Remains of the Data

Gender Equality in the US House: A State-by State Quarter-Century Report Card (1989-2014)

A study of 5,325 congressional elections finds the number of female U.S. Representatives has more than tripled over the last 25 years, but the rate at which women are elected to the chamber still varies greatly between the states.

Political Crumbs

Small Club in St. Paul

Mark Dayton is one of just three Minnesotans ever elected to three different statewide offices. Dayton, of course, had previously served as State Auditor (1991-1995) and U.S. Senator (2001-2007) before winning the governorship in 2010. At that time, he joined Republicans Edward Thye and J.A.A. Burnquist on this very short list. Burnquist was elected lieutenant governor in 1914 but then became governor after the death of Democrat Winfield Hammond in 1915. He then won the gubernatorial elections of 1916 and 1918 and eight terms as attorney general two decades later (1939-1955). Thye was similarly first elected lieutenant governor of the Gopher State and became governor after the resignation of fellow GOPer Harold Stasson in 1943. Thye won one additional full term as governor in 1944 and then two terms to the U.S. Senate (1947-1959). Twenty Minnesotans have been elected to two different statewide offices.


Respect Your Elders?

With retirement announcements this year by veteran U.S. Representatives such as 30-term Democrat John Dingell of Michigan, 20-term Democrat George Miller of California, and 18-term Republican Tom Petri of Wisconsin, it is no surprise that retirees from the 113th Congress are one of the most experienced cohorts in recent decades. Overall, these 24 exiting members of the House have served an average of 11.0 terms - the second longest tenure among retirees across the last 18 cycles since 1980. Only the U.S. Representatives retiring in 2006 had more experience, averaging 11.9 terms. (In that cycle, 10 of the 11 retiring members served at least 10 terms, with GOPer Bill Jenkins of Tennessee the lone exception at just five). Even without the aforementioned Dingell, the average length of service in the chamber of the remaining 23 retirees in 2014 is 10.2 terms - which would still be the third highest since 1980 behind the 2006 and 2012 (10.5 terms) cycles.


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