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South Dakota US Senate Historical Snapshot

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Now that Mississippi Republican Trent Lott has announced his retirement, 35 U.S. Senate seats will be on the ballot next November—23 held by the GOP and just 12 by Democrats. One of the few seats targeted by the Republicans is that held by Democrat Tim Johnson of South Dakota.

Johnson is extremely popular in his home state, but, given South Dakota's heavy Republican leanings, it is one of the few opportunities the GOP has to invest its resources in stealing a seat.

South Dakota has voted overwhelming for Republicans for major office:

* Republicans have won 25 of 29 presidential elections since 1892 (86 percent).
* Republicans have won 42 of 52 gubernatorial elections since statehood in 1889 (81 percent).
* Republicans have 93 of 118 U.S. House seats since 1889 (79 percent).

Republicans have also won the majority of U.S. Senate seats since popular elections for the office began in 1914, although by a less impressive margin, winning 20 seats to 12 for the Democrats, or 63 percent. Democrats have also won 9 of the 15 seats dating back to 1962.

Overall, Republicans have garnered 4.33 million of the 8.26 million votes cast for U.S. Senate in South Dakota since 1914 (53 percent). Democrats have won 3.75 million votes (45 percent) while 172,490 votes have gone to third parties (2 percent).

A third party candidate for U.S. Senate has not received 5 percent of the vote since 1926, when Howard Platt of the Farmer-Labor party earned 7.1 percent. The strongest showing for a third party candidate was in 1920 when non-partisan Tom Ayres came in second place with 24.1 percent of the vote.

Republicans have also enjoyed a much larger average margin of victory in South Dakota U.S. Senate elections—18.4 points, compared to just 9 points for Democratic victors.

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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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