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A Long Political Half-Life: Abortion Politics in South Dakota

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South Dakota's House of Representatives appears likely to take up the issue of abortion once again in its new 2007 legislative session. The GOP-led state legislature already passed a ban in its last session, which was signed by Republican Governor Mike Rounds. The referred law was defeated 55.6 percent to 44.4 percent in last November's election, however, largely because the law did not permit exceptions for rape and incest. Still, a majority backed the ban in 23 of the state's 66 counties, and came within 37,000 votes of passing out of nearly 335,000 votes cast.

Polls conducted in 2006 indicate this newly proposed ban would reflect the state's dominant viewpoint on abortion—a July 2006 poll found 59 percent of voters would vote 'Yes' on the bill if it allowed for an exception for cases of rape and incest (KELO-TV / Argus Leader). Only 29 percent were still in opposition.

This overwhelming support for a strict—but not absolute—abortion ban is interesting considering polls find South Dakotans more narrowly self-identifying as 'pro-choice' than 'pro-life.' A study of 18 SurveyUSA polls conducted between June 2005 and November 2006 found 'pro-choice' in the majority or plurality in 11 polls, 'pro-life' in the majority or plurality in five polls, and the two viewpoints evenly represented in two additional polls.

It is conceivable those individuals who are only tilting towards the pro-life end of the spectrum, may defect or become agnostic on the issue this time around—as South Dakota received a lot of national attention for its controversial referred law in 2006.

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Remains of the Data

Who Has Won the Most Votes in US Senate Electoral History?

Only three of the Top 10 and nine of the Top 50 vote-getters of all time are currently serving in the chamber.

Political Crumbs

Six for Thirteen

Collin Peterson remarked last month that he is leaning to run for reelection to Minnesota's 7th Congressional District in 2016. If he does and is victorious, he will creep even closer to the top of the list of the longest-serving U.S. Representatives in Minnesota history. The DFL congressman is only the sixth Minnesotan to win at least 13 terms to the U.S. House of the 135 elected to the chamber in state history. Peterson trails 18-term DFLer Jim Oberstar (1975-2011), 16-term Republicans Harold Knutson (1917-1949) and August Andresen (1925-1933; 1935-1958), and 14-term DFLers Martin Sabo (1979-2007) and John Blatnik (1947-1974). Andresen died in office, Sabo and Blatnik retired, and Knutson and Oberstar were defeated at the ballot box in 1948 and 2010 respectively. At 70 years, 7 months, 11 days through Monday, Peterson is currently the ninth oldest Gopher State U.S. Representative in history. DFLer Rick Nolan of the 8th CD is the seventh oldest at 71 years, 1 month, 23 days.


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.


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