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U.S. House: GOP Losses Could Have Been Far Worse

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The headline in the battle for the U.S. House on Wednesday morning was how the Democrats not only took control from Republicans, but also gained an impressive 29 seats (up to a half-dozen races across the country are still classified as too close to call).

But what has been overlooked in the coverage is that the 'Democratic tsunami' could have been far worse for the Republicans. A closer examination of competitive districts that did not switch parties indicate the GOP was much more vulnerable at losing close races than Democrats.

Republicans held an additional 20 'very competitive' seats that were decided by 5 points or less. Only 1 Democratic district was held by this narrow margin.

Republicans also held another 16 'moderately competitive' seats that were decided by between 5 and 10 points. The Democrats only held 5 districts by this margin.

It is true several of the Democratic pick-ups were won by narrow margins: Democrats won 13 of these races by less than 5 points. However, 9 Democratic pick-ups were won by between 5 and 10 points and another 7 pick-ups were won by more than 10 points.

The cautionary message for Republicans is that if their party endures continued bad news into 2007 and 2008, many more seats are at risk of falling into enemy hands than Democratic seats switching to the Republicans.

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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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