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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

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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