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Klobuchar Begins Term With Strong Statewide Support

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The approval ratings are in for Minnesota junior Senator Amy Klobuchar, after only a few weeks on the job in Washington, D.C. The latest SurveyUSA poll finds 56 percent of Minnesotans approve of her job performance in the U.S. Senate, with 30 percent disapproving, and 14 percent having no opinion.

This is an unusually high approval rating for a new Minnesota Senator. One month after Norm Coleman took office in 2003 he had won over just 46 percent of Minnesotans (MN Poll, February 2003). Mark Dayton likewise only had a 41 percent approval rating some three months after he was elected (MN Poll, April 2003).

But Klobuchar's negative job rating (30 percent) is also much higher than that of Coleman (11 percent) and Dayton (12 percent) early in their respective terms.

Therefore, what is most surprising about Klobuchar is the relatively low number of Minnesotans who have yet to form an opinion about her so early in her first term. Frequently it takes several months to a year for a fair portion of the senator's statewide constituency to form an opinion about that senator's job performance. Perhaps Klobuchar's high profile race with (and domination of) Mark Kennedy in last fall's campaign solidified her supporters—as well as detractors—much quicker than normal.

Note: While it is always dangerous to compare data across different pollsters (in this case SurveyUSA vs. the Minnesota Poll), in the case of this particular issue—job approval—the question wording is the same in both polls (although the methods are not: SurveyUSA uses computer-based polling; the Minnesota Poll employs human interviews).

Still, as a point of comparison, Klobuchar has a notably higher approval rating than the three other freshman Senators examined by SurveyUSA: Virginia's Jim Webb (42 percent), Ohio's Sherrod Brown (47 percent), and Missouri's Claire McCaskill (50 percent).

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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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