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Historical Snapshot: U.S. House Races in Minnesota

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After picking up one seat in the 2006 election, the DFL eyes another in 2008. The retirement of Republican Jim Ramstad, after 18 years of service, opens up a competitive 6th Congressional District.

The DFL has enjoyed success in U.S. House races in recent years, particularly since 1976 when Minnesota began its current streak of voting for the Democratic presidential nominee in 8 straight elections. From 1976 to 2006 the DFL has won 80 of 129 contests compared to just 49 races for the GOP (this includes special elections).

But it took nearly a century from statehood for Democrats in Minnesota to gain a strong foothold in the state's delegation to the House of Representatives. From 1857 to 1942, the last election before the union of the Farmer-Labor and Democratic parties in 1944, Republicans won 81 percent of all Congressional races, or 239 seats. Candidates from the Farmer-Labor and Democratic party collectively won only 49 races during this 85-year span, or just 17 percent. Other third parties won 7 seats, or 2 percent.

From elections held at the end of FDR's presidency in 1944 through the 1974 election after Richard Nixon's resignation, the Democratic and Farmer-Labor Party merger helped to minimize the Minnesota Republican Party's footprint in Congress; Republicans won 79 of 138 races (57 percent) during that span, with the DFL winning 59 races (43 percent). In the 30 years since, from 1976 to 2006, the DFL won 62 percent of Gopher State U.S. House contests, compared to 37 percent for the GOP.

For more details on Minnesota election results, visit the Center's Historical Election Archive—the most complete on-line historical database of Upper Midwestern statewide and district-level election returns: www.politicsandgovernance.org/elections/election_data.html

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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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