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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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Political Crumbs

Strike Three for Miller-Meeks

Iowa Republicans had a banner day on November 4th, picking up both a U.S. Senate seat and one U.S. House seat, but Mariannette Miller-Meeks' defeat in her third attempt to oust Democrat Dave Loebsack in the 2nd CD means the GOP will not have a monopoly on the state's congressional delegation in the 114th Congress. The loss by Miller-Meeks (following up her defeats in 2008 and 2010) means major party nominees who lost their first two Iowa U.S. House races are now 0 for 10 the third time around in Iowa history. Miller-Meeks joins Democrat William Leffingwell (1858, 1868, 1870), Democrat Anthony Van Wagenen (1894, 1912 (special), 1912), Democrat James Murtagh (1906, 1914, 1916), Democrat Clair Williams (1944, 1946, 1952), Democrat Steven Carter (1948, 1950, 1956), Republican Don Mahon (1966, 1968, 1970), Republican Tom Riley (1968, 1974, 1976), Democrat Eric Tabor (1986, 1988, 1990), and Democrat Bill Gluba (1982, 1988, 2004) on the Hawkeye State's Three Strikes list.


Larry Pressler Wins the Silver

Larry Pressler may have fallen short in his long-shot, underfunded, and understaffed bid to return to the nation's upper legislative chamber, but he did end up notching the best showing for a non-major party South Dakota U.S. Senate candidate in more than 90 years. Pressler won 17.1 percent of the vote which is the best showing for an independent or third party U.S. Senate candidate in the state since 1920 when non-partisan candidate Tom Ayres won 24.1 percent in a race won by Republican Peter Norbeck. Overall, Pressler's 17.1 percent is good for the second best mark for a non-major party candidate across the 35 U.S. Senate contests in South Dakota history. Independent and third party candidates have appeared on the South Dakota U.S. Senate ballot just 25 times over the last century and only three have reached double digits: Pressler in 2014 and Ayres in 1920 and 1924 (12.1 percent). Pressler's defeat means he won't become the oldest candidate elected to the chamber in South Dakota history nor notch the record for the longest gap in service in the direct election era.


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