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DFL Prospects in Ramstad's 3rd CD Open Seat

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After Republican U.S. Representative Jim Ramstad announced his retirement Monday, effective at the end of this term (his 9th), the buzz around Minnesota politics was that his open seat would produce a competitive Congressional District race—one that was ripe for the picking for the DFL.

And there is data to back up this notion.

Smart Politics examined election returns in 2006 and compared it to the previous non-presidential election in 2002.

In gubernatorial races, the margin of victory for Republican Tim Pawlenty decreased by 7.1 points in the district from 2002 to 2006.

In 2002, the GOP held a 16.4-point victory margin in the Norm Coleman-Walter Mondale U.S. Senate race. In 2006 Amy Klobuchar beat GOP-er Mark Kennedy by 14.5 points—a 30.9-point net loss for the Republicans in the 3rd C.D..

But these recent races for Governor and U.S. Senate may have been driven more by the personalities of the top-of-the-ticket candidates rather than an actual change in political temperature in the 3rd District.

As such, Smart Politics also examined lower-ticket races in the district. The 3rd Congressional District is home to 18 state house districts—14 completely comprised in the 3rd, and 4 partially in the 3rd.

In 2002, 14 of these 18 districts voted for the GOP candidate. In 2006, 9 went to the DFL, 9 to the GOP. Moreover, the GOP lost ground in 17 of these 18 races, losing an average of 21 net points per district.

This data suggests that if the DFL is able to nominate a moderate candidate for the 3rd C.D. race, that candidate may actually emerge as a narrow favorite for this open GOP seat. Of course, 2006 was an extraordinary year for Democrats nationwide, and in the Gopher State. Whether or not the national political scene influences this climate in the 3rd District (and, if so, how) remains to be seen.

Previous post: Will 3rd Party Candidates Tilt MN 2008 Senate Race?
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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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