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Upper Midwest Leads the Nation in 2006 Voter Turnout

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The Upper Midwest continued to set the pace for election turnout in this year's mid-term elections. While preliminary, unofficial numbers are only available in some states, it appears the Upper Midwest has locked down 3 of the top 6 slots in voter turnout (turnout can be calculated by a variety of methods but is defined here as the total votes cast for the highest office on the ballot in a state divided by the number of people eligible by law to vote in that state).

Minnesota once again led the country with a turnout rate of 59.6%. This is the lowest mid-term voter performance in Minnesota since 1994 (54.2%). In 2002 63.1% of Minnesotans voted, nearly 3 points higher than 1998 (60.2%), and the highest level in more than 45 years.

Not surprisingly, South Dakota also had a very high turnout on Election Day at 57.8% - which was good for second best in the nation. This is an impressive number considering South Dakota did not have a competitive gubernatorial or at-large US House race this year. In 2002, the state's turnout eclipsed 60% in the wake of one of the closest US Senate races in South Dakota history (with Democrat incumbent Tim Johnson edging John Thune by 500 votes). Turnout in 2006 may have been boosted by several referenda on the ballot, including a controversial abortion ban that was defeated by voters.

Wisconsin emerged with an impressive 52.6% turnout, and sixth best in the nation. This is the highest voter turnout in the Badger State since 1962 when 53.0% of Wisconsinites came to the polls. Voters were particularly engaged in the electoral process in 2006 by the state's competitive governor's race, a rare competitive US House race (in the 8th Congressional district), an unusually high-profile battle for Attorney General, and referenda on the death penalty and the definition of marriage. The 2006 turnout in Wisconsin was therefore noticeably higher than in recent mid-term elections: 44.8% in 2002, 46.1% in 1998, 42.5% in 1994, and 35.3% in 1990.

Iowa's turnout in 2006 was 47.4%, good for 15th best in the United States, despite a high profile gubernatorial race and three competitive US House races out of five congressional districts. This level of voter interest in Iowa was on par with recent mid-term elections: 47.1% in 2002, 44.7% in 1998, 47.0% in 1994, and 48.3% in 1990.

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Remains of the Data

Plurality-Winning Governors Elected At Century-Long High Water Mark

The rate of gubernatorial candidates elected without the support of a majority of voters is at its highest level since the 1910s.

Political Crumbs

Seeing Red

Congressman Nick Rahall's failed bid for a 20th term in West Virginia this cycle, combined with a narrow loss by Nick Casey to Alex Mooney in Shelley Moore Capito's open seat, means that West Virginia Democrats will be shut out of the state's U.S. House delegation for the first time in over 90 years. The Republican sweep by two-term incumbent David McKinley in the 1st CD, Mooney in the 2nd, and Evan Jenkins over Rahall in the 3rd marks the first time the GOP has held all seats in the chamber from West Virginia since the Election of 1920. During the 67th Congress (1921-1923) all six seats from the state were controlled by the GOP. Since the Election of 1922, Democrats have won 76 percent of all U.S. House elections in the Mountain State - capturing 172 seats compared to 54 for the GOP.


Home Field Advantage?

When the 114th Congress convenes in a few days, Maine will be represented by one home-grown U.S. Representative: Waterville-born Republican Bruce Poliquin. With the departure of Millinocket-born Mike Michaud, who launched a failed gubernatorial bid, the Pine Tree State was poised to send a House delegation to D.C. without any Maine-born members for the first time since 1821. Three-term U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree (born in Minnesota) coasted to reelection as expected, however Poliquin edged Kentucky-born Emily Cain by 5.3 points to keep the streak alive. Since 1876, a total of 208 of the 222 candidates elected to the nation's lower legislative chamber from the state have been born in Maine, or 94 percent.


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