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Democrats in Best Position to Take Control of SD Senate Since 1992

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While Democrats have been able to win statewide elections in South Dakota in recent years (Tim Johnson, Tom Daschle, Stephanie Herseth), Republicans have thoroughly dominated district races for the state legislature. Since 1960, Democrats have only eked out a tie in the House (1972) and have controlled the Senate after the elections of 1972, 1974, and 1992.

In 2006, Democrats picked up 5 seats in the Senate, reducing the GOP’s margin from 25-10 to 20-15. And now, for the first time since 1992, Democrats have a real shot at winning back the State’s upper legislative chamber. Here’s why:

• First of all, due to term limits, retirements etc., Democrats will actually have more incumbents on the ballot (13) than will the Republicans (11).

• Republicans will therefore be defending more than four times as many open seats (9) than Democrats (2). Neither of the open seats on the Democratic side was competitive in 2006 (decided by 10 points or less), while two open seats for the GOP (Districts 25 and 35) were very competitive during the last election cycle (decided by 5 points or less).

• Thirdly, the Democratic Party has fielded candidates in all 35 districts, compared to just 29 in 2006. Republicans failed to field candidates in two districts this year.

• Overall, the Democratic and Republican parties will be trying to hold about an equal number of districts that were competitive in 2006: seven for the Democrats, and six for the Republicans.

With a very popular U.S. Senator (Tim Johnson) and at-large U.S. Representative (Stephanie Herseth) on the ballot, Democrats are looking at their best chance to take back the Senate in a generation.

Previous post: Battleground States Through the Lens of the U.S. Senate
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Remains of the Data

No Free Passes: States With 2 Major Party Candidates in Every US House Race

Indiana has now placed candidates from both major parties on the ballot in a nation-best 189 consecutive U.S. House races, with New Hampshire, Minnesota, Idaho, and Montana also north of 100 in a row.

Political Crumbs

Gubernatorial Highs and Lows

Two sitting governors currently hold the record for the highest gubernatorial vote ever received in their respective states by a non-incumbent: Republican Matt Mead of Wyoming (65.7 percent in 2010) and outgoing GOPer Dave Heineman of Nebraska (73.4 percent in 2006). Republican Gary Herbert of Utah had not previously won a gubernatorial contest when he notched a state record 64.1 percent for his first victory in 2010, but was an incumbent at the time after ascending to the position in 2009 after the early departure of Jon Huntsman. Meanwhile, two sitting governors hold the record in their states for the lowest mark ever recorded by a winning gubernatorial candidate (incumbent or otherwise): independent-turned-Democrat Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island (36.1 percent in 2010) and Democrat Terry McAuliffe of Virginia (47.8 percent in 2013).


An Idaho Six Pack

Two-term Idaho Republican Governor Butch Otter only polled at 39 percent in a recent PPP survey of the state's 2014 race - just four points ahead of Democratic businessman A.J. Balukoff. Otter's low numbers reflect his own struggles as a candidate (witness his weak primary win against State Senator Russ Fulcher) combined with the opportunity for disgruntled Idahoans to cast their votes for one of four third party and independent candidates, who collectively received the support of 12 percent of likely voters: Libertarian John Bujak, the Constitution Party's Steve Pankey, and independents Jill Humble and Pro-Life (aka Marvin Richardson). The six candidate options in a gubernatorial race sets an all-time record in the Gem State across the 46 elections conducted since statehood. The previous high water mark of five candidates was reached in seven previous cycles: 1902, 1904, 1908, 1912, 1914, 1966, and 2010.


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