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MN vs. WI: Which State Is Most Likely to Vote GOP for President in 2008?

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This is an admittedly premature question to be sure—with more than one year before the first presidential primary and only a few politicians from each party officially declaring themselves as candidates for the White House. Nonetheless, in the coming months political strategists and party activists will descend on both Wisconsin and Minnesota to rally voters to their cause.

Despite trending Democratic in recent years, both states are definitely still bonafide battlegrounds. An analysis of major statewide elections for President, Governor, and US Senator over the past 45 years indicates the GOP is certainly capable of picking off either one of these states in a presidential race.

Minnesota has voted Democratic for president in 11 of the last 12 presidential elections since 1960, including each of the last 8. However, 5 of these democratic wins were by very narrow margins—decided by less than 4 percentage points.

Wisconsin has voted Democratic in 7 of the last 12 races. While each of the last 5 presidential elections has gone to the Democrats in the Badger state, 4 of these 5 have been very competitive—decided by less than 5 percentage points.

Though it would appear the GOP would fare better in Wisconsin, in US Senate races Republicans have been more successful making inroads in Minnesota—winning 7 of the last 17 races. In Wisconsin Democrats have won 14 of the last 16.

Furthermore, despite tilting blue in presidential elections, both states have been more apt to vote Republican executives into office. Since 1960 Minnesota has voted for more Republican governors (7) than Democrats (5). Republicans (8) also have the slight edge over Democrats (7) for gubernatorial races in Wisconsin.

In sum, voters in Wisconsin and Minnesota can both be swayed to vote Republican in notable statewide elections. Since 1960 each state has voted Republican exactly 15 times in races for president, governor, and US Senator. While oddsmakers would likely make a generic Democratic candidate the favorite today, if a strong, moderate Republican can win the GOP nomination, Democrats can expect a fierce battle in both states.

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Remains of the Data

No Free Passes: States With 2 Major Party Candidates in Every US House Race

Indiana has now placed candidates from both major parties on the ballot in a nation-best 189 consecutive U.S. House races, with New Hampshire, Minnesota, Idaho, and Montana also north of 100 in a row.

Political Crumbs

Gubernatorial Highs and Lows

Two sitting governors currently hold the record for the highest gubernatorial vote ever received in their respective states by a non-incumbent: Republican Matt Mead of Wyoming (65.7 percent in 2010) and outgoing GOPer Dave Heineman of Nebraska (73.4 percent in 2006). Republican Gary Herbert of Utah had not previously won a gubernatorial contest when he notched a state record 64.1 percent for his first victory in 2010, but was an incumbent at the time after ascending to the position in 2009 after the early departure of Jon Huntsman. Meanwhile, two sitting governors hold the record in their states for the lowest mark ever recorded by a winning gubernatorial candidate (incumbent or otherwise): independent-turned-Democrat Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island (36.1 percent in 2010) and Democrat Terry McAuliffe of Virginia (47.8 percent in 2013).


An Idaho Six Pack

Two-term Idaho Republican Governor Butch Otter only polled at 39 percent in a recent PPP survey of the state's 2014 race - just four points ahead of Democratic businessman A.J. Balukoff. Otter's low numbers reflect his own struggles as a candidate (witness his weak primary win against State Senator Russ Fulcher) combined with the opportunity for disgruntled Idahoans to cast their votes for one of four third party and independent candidates, who collectively received the support of 12 percent of likely voters: Libertarian John Bujak, the Constitution Party's Steve Pankey, and independents Jill Humble and Pro-Life (aka Marvin Richardson). The six candidate options in a gubernatorial race sets an all-time record in the Gem State across the 46 elections conducted since statehood. The previous high water mark of five candidates was reached in seven previous cycles: 1902, 1904, 1908, 1912, 1914, 1966, and 2010.


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