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SD 2008 Election Forecast: Will Momentum Towards the Democrats Continue?

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South Dakota, one of the most reliably Republican states in the Midwest, will be an interesting state to watch in 2008. First, the state will have a high-profile Senate race, whether or not the state's senior Senator, Democrat Tim Johnson, decides to run for a third term. Johnson is recovering from a brain hemorrhage last December, though his former colleague Tom Daschle stated earlier this summer that Johnson will seek re-election.

Last election, however, South Dakota voters seemed to move a bit closer to the Democratic side of the political spectrum—as did most states across the U.S. in Election 2006. The state's at-large Representative to Congress, rising Democratic star Stephanie Herseth, won the third largest victory for a Democrat in a South Dakota U.S. House race in five decades (winning by 40 points).

But the biggest news for the Democrats came in the state Senate. From 2000 to 2004, Democrats lost by 24-11, 25-10, and 25-10 seat margins. In 2006, they gained five seats, losing 20-15.

Even more telling, the average margin of victory in state Senate races became, comparatively, much more competitive. The average margin of victory in such races in 2000 was 51 points, followed by 62 points in 2002, and 49 points in 2004. In 2006 this was cut in half, with a 25-point average margin of victory—including 14 races decided by 10 points or less. From 2000 to 2004 only 10 of the 105 Senate races were decided by this margin. While Democrats failed to field candidates in 6 Senate races last year, 45 percent of votes for state senator still went to the Democrats, compared to just 34 percent over the previous three election cycles.

But the news is not all good for Democrats—Governor Mike Rounds won re-election by nearly twice the margin as his inaugural victory in 2002.

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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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