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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

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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