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Minnesota's Approval of Pawlenty Job Performance Remarkably Stable

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Tim Pawlenty heads into his second term on the heels of a very narrow, plurality vote victory last month, and the prospects of having to work with a DFL-controlled state House for the first time in his administration, as well as a state Senate facing ever declining GOP representation. However, the Republican governor can still take solace in the fact that his job approval rating has remained fairly strong, and remarkably consistent throughout his first four years—especially when compared with that of his predecessor, IP Governor Jesse Ventura.

Pawlenty's job approval ratings have largely hovered in the mid-50s throughout most of his tenure. For example, in eight Minnesota Polls conducted during Pawlenty's term his rating has ranged only 11 percentage points—from a high of 60% (February 2003) to a low of 49% (September 2003). And in six polls since January 2004, Pawlenty's rating has remained between 54 and 58 percent. The latest SurveyUSA poll (conducted in December 2006) likewise measures Pawlenty's approval rating at 57%.

Jesse Ventura's approval rating, on the other hand, was much more of a rollercoaster. In 16 Minnesota Polls conducted between January 1999 and December 2002, Ventura's rating hit a high of 72% (in his first month of office, January 1999), and a low of 40% (in his last month, December 2002). However, Ventura's descent was not continuous—after falling to 62% in June 2000, Ventura eclipsed 70% once again in August 2000 and then again as late as January 2001, two years after he took office. A majority, though declining number, of Minnesotans still approved of Ventura's job performance through December 2001; it wasn't until 2002, the last year of Ventura's administration, that he began to experience approval ratings in the 40s.

Pawlenty's personality and policy positions are not as controversial as his predecessor; nor are they therefore as likely to become water cooler topics. As a result, at first glance, it is not too surprising the Governor has avoided the kind of hot and cold approval of his constituency that Ventura endured. However, Pawlenty's current strong ratings in a state that turned on Republicans with a passion in 2006 is rather remarkable, and a sign that the Governor has, to his credit, truly won over Minnesota centrists.

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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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