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Presidential Politics in Minnesota: A Historical Overview

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Since Minnesotans cast their first presidential ballots in 1860, nearly 1 million more votes have been marked for Democratic (Democrat + DFL) presidential nominees compared to votes for Republican nominees, out of more than 38.6 million votes cast across 37 presidential elections. However, a larger percentage of votes (based on yearly percentages) have been cast for Republicans (50 percent) than Democrats (43 percent) due to the fact that the Democratic trend began just prior to the mid-20th Century when the state's voting age population increased substantially.

Minnesota has been on the winning side of Presidential politics in just less than three-quarters (73 percent) of elections—27 of 37 races. The state has been a bit more defiant in following national trends in recent years, voting for the winning president in just 6 of the past 12 elections since 1960.

Overall, the state has voted for more Republicans (20) than Democrats (16), with one third-party nominee winning the state's electoral votes (Progressive Teddy Roosevelt in 1912).

But the trend towards a bluer Minnesota did not begin until Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Since 1932, the state has voted for Democratic presidential nominees in 16 of 19 elections, with the only Republican successes in the state being Dwight D. Eisenhower's 1952 and 1956 campaigns and Richard Nixon's victory in 1972.

Prior to 1932, Republican nominees had won the Gopher State in 17 of 18 elections, with the Democrats failing to capture the state even once. Only three times did the Democratic presidential nominee even get within 10 points of victory:

* In 1916, Woodrow Wilson lost the state by 0.1 points to Republican nominee Charles E. Hughes.
* In 1912, Wilson lost by 5.9 points to Progressive Teddy Roosevelt.
* In 1892, Grover Cleveland lost by 8.2 points to Benjamin Harrison.

Overall, approximately 18.57 million votes (48.1 percent) have been cast in Minnesota for Democratic presidential nominees, compared to 17.57 million (45.5 percent) for Republicans and 2.48 million for third parties (6.4 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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