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Presidential Politics in Wisconsin: A Historical Overview

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Since Wisconsinites cast their first presidential ballots in 1848, approximately 900,000 more votes have been cast for Republican presidential nominees than Democrats, out of more than 43.2 million votes cast across 40 presidential elections.

Wisconsin has been on the winning side of Presidential politics in three-quarters (75 percent) of elections — 30 of 40 races. After being on the winning side of 9 of 10 elections from 1948 to 1984, Wisconsin has cast its vote for the losing candidate in 3 of the last 5 elections.

Overall, Wisconsinites have voted far more times for Republican candidates (24) than Democrats (15), with home-state political legend Robert M. LaFollette carrying the state on the Progressive ticket back in 1924 with 54 percent of the vote.

The state – like much of the Upper Midwest – overwhelmingly voted for Republicans with the introduction of the GOP back in 1856 when John C. Frémont was its nominee. From 1856 through 1984, Republicans won the Badger State in 24 of 33 elections (73 percent), with Democrats winning just 8 times (24 percent).

Republicans have also enjoyed larger average margin of victories (13.9 points) than have Democrats (9.9 points). The Democratic streak of 5 victories in a row from 1988 through 2004 has included 4 wins of less than 5 points each.

Wisconsin’s presidential elections overall have been more competitive than have the neighboring states of Minnesota and Iowa. In Wisconsin, the average margin of victory across 40 elections has been 12.4 points, compared to 14.2 points in Iowa and 16.4 points in Minnesota.

Approximately 20.77 million votes (48.0 percent) have been cast in Wisconsin for Republican presidential nominees, compared to 19.88 million (45.9 percent) for Democrats and 2.65 million for third parties (6.1 percent).

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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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