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Presidential Politics in Iowa: A Historical Overview

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Despite being a competitive battle ground state in recent years, and an important state in determining the nominees of the Democratic and Republican parties, the state of Iowa has not had a long history of voting for Democrats in the race for the White House.

Overall, Republicans have carried the state in 29 of 40 elections since 1848, including 28 of 33 races from 1856 through 1984. By comparison, Minnesotans have voted for 20 Republicans and 16 Democrats since statehood.

Democrats carried Iowa in its first 2 elections (1848, 1852), and in 4 of the past 5 elections since 1988. Of the 31.9 million votes cast for president in the Hawkeye state, Republicans hold a 2.3 million net vote advantage (51.4 percent to 44.0 percent).

Like its neighbor to the north, Iowa has been on the winning side of presidential politics in 73 percent of presidential contests, siding with the winner in 29 of 40 elections.

The state has had its share of competitive contests—with 15 of 40 (38 percent) decided by less than 10 points. Minnesota has had a virtually identical number of competitive races—13 of 36 (36 percent).

In their 11 losses in Iowa, the GOP has been competitive in just 3 contests:

* In 2000, George W. Bush lost by 0.3 points to Al Gore
* In 1992, George H.W. Bush lost by 6.0 points to Bill Clinton
* In 1948, Thomas Dewey lost to Harry Truman by 2.7 points

Democrats have been competitive in only 9 of their 29 losses:

* In 2004, John Kerry lost to George W. Bush by 0.7 points.
* In 1984, Walter Mondale lost to Ronald Reagan by 7.4 points.
* In 1976, Jimmy Carter lost to Gerald Ford by 1.0 points.
* In 1944, Franklin Roosevelt lost to Thomas Dewey by 4.5 points.
* In 1940, Franklin Roosevelt lost to Wendell Willkie by 4.4 points.
* In 1892, Grover Cleveland lost to Benjamin Harrison by 5.3 points.
* In 1888, Grover Cleveland lost to Benjamin Harrison by 7.9 points.
* In 1884, Grover Cleveland lost to James Blaine by 5.2 points.
* In 1856, James Buchanan lost to John Frémont by 8.1 points.

On three occasions other parties have lost competitive races:

* In 1912, Progressive Teddy Roosevelt lost by 4.7 points to Democrat Woodrow Wilson.
* In 1852, Whig Winfield Scott lost by 5.4 points to Democrat Franklin Pierce.
* In 1848, Whig Zachary Taylor lost by 6.0 points to Democrat Lewis Cass.

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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 lieutenant 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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