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WI State Legislative Shakeup in 2006 At Near Historic Levels

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The reclaiming of the Wisconsin state Senate by the Democratic Party received some fanfare last month in the Badger State, but the extent of Democratic pickups in the state Senate and state Assembly is nearly unprecedented over the past half-century of Wisconsin state politics.

Democrats had controlled the 33-seat state Senate for 12 of the last 16 legislative sessions dating back to 1974, although Republicans had been the majority party since 2002. The 4-seat pick-up by the Democrats in 2006 (shifting a 19-14 deficit to an 18-15 advantage) was the second largest gain achieved by either party in the chamber dating back to 1960.

In the 99-seat state Assembly, the Democrats picked up 8 seats, reducing the GOP's 59-39 advantage (1 seat was vacant) to 52-47. This marked the second largest pickup in seats by either party in Assembly elections in nearly 50 years (in 1970 the Democrats gained 19 seats in a tidal wave election).

While virtually no one gave the Democrats a chance to win the Assembly, Republicans are indeed fortunate to have retained control: Democrats lost 3 districts by just 0.7 (District 47), and 1.1 (Districts 80 and 87) percentage points. A change in a few hundred votes in each of those districts would have meant the Republicans—who have controlled the Assembly since 1994—would have been on the short end of a 50-49 margin.

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Remains of the Data

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Political Crumbs

Evolving?

When Scott Walker "punted" back in February after being asked if he was comfortable with the idea of evolution he added, "That's a question a politician shouldn't be involved in one way or the other." However, it may very well be a question that is asked at one of the upcoming GOP debates this year. In South Carolina during the first GOP debate in 2012, FOX News' Juan Williams asked Tim Pawlenty, "Do you equate the teaching of creationism with the teaching of evolution as the basis for what should be taught for our nation's schools?" Pawlenty replied, "There should be room in the curriculum for study of intelligent design" but that it was up to the local school districts if it should be in a science class or comparative theory class. At the fourth Republican debate held in California, Jon Huntsman addressed the GOP becoming "anti-science" thusly: "Listen, when you make comments that fly in the face of what 98 out of 100 climate scientists have said, when you call into question the science of evolution, all I'm saying is that, in order for the Republican Party to win, we can't run from science. We can't run from mainstream conservative philosophy."


73 Months and Counting

January's preliminary Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers show Minnesota's unemployment rate of 3.7 percent was once again lower than Wisconsin's 5.0 percent. That marks the 73rd consecutive month in which Minnesota has boasted a lower jobless rate than its neighbor to the east dating back to January 2009 including each of the last 67 months by at least one point. The Gopher State has now edged Wisconsin in the employment border battle for 204 of the last 216 months dating back to February 1997. Wisconsin only managed a lower unemployment rate than Minnesota for the 12 months of 2008 during this 18-year span.


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