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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

Gender Equality in the US House: A State-by State Quarter-Century Report Card (1989-2014)

A study of 5,325 congressional elections finds the number of female U.S. Representatives has more than tripled over the last 25 years, but the rate at which women are elected to the chamber still varies greatly between the states.

Political Crumbs

Small Club in St. Paul

Mark Dayton is one of just three Minnesotans ever elected to three different statewide offices. Dayton, of course, had previously served as State Auditor (1991-1995) and U.S. Senator (2001-2007) before winning the governorship in 2010. At that time, he joined Republicans Edward Thye and J.A.A. Burnquist on this very short list. Burnquist was elected governor in 1914 but then became governor after the death of Democrat Winfield Hammond in 1915. He then won the gubernatorial elections of 1916 and 1918 and eight terms as attorney general two decades later (1939-1955). Thye was similarly first elected lieutenant governor of the Gopher State and became governor after the resignation of fellow GOPer Harold Stasson in 1943. Thye won one additional full term as governor in 1944 and then two terms to the U.S. Senate (1947-1959). Twenty Minnesotans have been elected to two different statewide offices.


Respect Your Elders?

With retirement announcements this year by veteran U.S. Representatives such as 30-term Democrat John Dingell of Michigan, 20-term Democrat George Miller of California, and 18-term Republican Tom Petri of Wisconsin, it is no surprise that retirees from the 113th Congress are one of the most experienced cohorts in recent decades. Overall, these 24 exiting members of the House have served an average of 11.0 terms - the second longest tenure among retirees across the last 18 cycles since 1980. Only the U.S. Representatives retiring in 2006 had more experience, averaging 11.9 terms. (In that cycle, 10 of the 11 retiring members served at least 10 terms, with GOPer Bill Jenkins of Tennessee the lone exception at just five). Even without the aforementioned Dingell, the average length of service in the chamber of the remaining 23 retirees in 2014 is 10.2 terms - which would still be the third highest since 1980 behind the 2006 and 2012 (10.5 terms) cycles.


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