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Midwest Felt Bigger 'Democratic Bump' in '06 Than U.S. Overall

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The nation-wide partisan swing from the Republicans to the Democrats in 2006 was felt across the United States in a number of statewide and district races. Democrats won a majority of governorships, took back control of the U.S. House and Senate, and won back several state legislative chambers.

This change was particularly pronounced in the Midwest. Take, for example, races for the U.S. House. After the 2004 election, Republicans held 232 seats nationwide, or 53 percent, compared to 202 seats, or 46 percent, for the Democrats. After the 2006 election, Democrats held 233 seats (54 percent) compared to 202 seats for the Republicans (46 percent)—a 14-point turnaround.

Meanwhile, across a dozen states in the Midwest (from North Dakota to Pennsylvania), Republicans held 62 percent (69 seats) of the 112 House seats from this delegation after the 2004 election, while the Democrats held just 38 percent (43 seats). After November 2006, Democrats led the way winning 57 races to 55 for the Republicans—good for 51 percent of the seats. A 26-seat advantage from this Midwest delegation for the Republicans was erased into a 2-seat advantage for the Democrats—a 25-point turnaround.

In sum, the partisan move towards blue among the electorate in the Midwest was much greater than it was nationwide. The danger for the GOP in 2008 is not simply whether or not the Democrats sustain this presence in the Midwest, but whether and to what extent this bluish trend creeps further to the south and the west.

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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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