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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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