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MN 2002 U.S. Senate Election Revisited: Norm Coleman and the St. Paul Vote

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In an interview on public radio this week, Al Franken mentioned that Norm Coleman lost all of his hometown St. Paul precincts in the 2002 election for U.S. Senate. Coleman was currently serving his last months as the mayor of St. Paul and had been elected as a Republican for his second term.

Franken is correct—Coleman lost all 104 precincts in St. Paul City—but this number is not too startling upon examination of how other Republicans fared in St. Paul during that election year.

  • For example, in US House races, the DFL also won every precinct in 2002, by an average of 470 votes per precinct.
  • The DFL also ran the table in State Senate races, by an average of 466 votes.
  • The DFL won every precinct as well in State House contests, by an average of 440 votes per precinct.
  • DFL-er Mike Hatch won every precinct in his re-election bid for Attorney General, by an average of 409 votes.

Coleman fared better than Republican candidates in each of these aforementioned offices. Though Coleman too lost each St. Paul precinct, he did so by an average of 338 votes.

However, Republicans fared much better than Coleman in St. Paul in races for the Offices of Secretary of State, State Auditor, and Governor.

  • Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer lost by an average of 257 votes per precinct, including a victory in 1 precinct.
  • State Auditor Patricia Anderson Awada also lost by an average of 257 votes per precinct, and was victorious in 1 of them.
  • But the Republican who fared the best in St. Paul was Tim Pawlenty. Pawlenty lost by an average of 251 votes per precinct in St. Paul, and, like Kiffmeyer and Awada, managed to win a single precinct. One could argue that Pawlenty benefited by Tim Penny's run on the Independence Party ticket that year, which perhaps diluted the DFL vote (and vice-versa). However, that is an inadequate explanation as Coleman ended up winning a much larger percentage of the statewide vote (49.5 percent) than did Pawlenty (44.3 percent). In sum, Pawlenty's performance in St. Paul was notably stronger than Coleman's.

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Remains of the Data

Plurality-Winning Governors Elected At Century-Long High Water Mark

The rate of gubernatorial candidates elected without the support of a majority of voters is at its highest level since the 1910s.

Political Crumbs

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.


Home Field Advantage?

When the 114th Congress convenes in a few days, Maine will be represented by one home-grown U.S. Representative: Waterville-born Republican Bruce Poliquin. With the departure of Millinocket-born Mike Michaud, who launched a failed gubernatorial bid, the Pine Tree State was poised to send a House delegation to D.C. without any Maine-born members for the first time since 1821. Three-term U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree (born in Minnesota) coasted to reelection as expected, however Poliquin edged Kentucky-born Emily Cain by 5.3 points to keep the streak alive. Since 1876, a total of 208 of the 222 candidates elected to the nation's lower legislative chamber from the state have been born in Maine, or 94 percent.


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