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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

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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