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How Blue Is Minnesota? Not 7 U.S. House Seats Blue

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Tim Walz’s pick-up of the Gopher State’s 1st Congressional District in 2006 buoyed hopes for the DFL of a decisive bluish trend among voters for its U.S. House candidates in the coming years. Walz’s victory surprised many pundits, even in an election year that was expecting several Democratic pick-ups across the nation (Walz’s victory was no surprise to Smart Politics, which projected his victory).

The DFL had reason to be optimistic: 2006 was the first year the DFL delegation to Congress had netted a seat since the 1990 election, when Collin Peterson picked off 6-term GOP incumbent Arlan Stangeland’s 7th District seat.

As such, when popular Republican Representative Jim Ramstad announced his retirement in 2007, the DFL hungrily eyed two potential pick-ups in 2008 – Ramstad’s open 3rd District seat and 1-term Representative Michele Bachmann’s 6th District seat.

While most analysts agree that the 3rd CD should be very competitive for the DFL, the Party faithful should not be so optimistic about its chances in ousting Bachmann.

True, Bachmann won her seat in 2006 with only the barest majority – 50.1 percent. However, her district voted overwhelmingly for Tim Pawlenty in the gubernatorial race (55.9 percent, compared to just 37.3 percent for Mike Hatch). Additionally, the 6th CD demonstrated a great deal of support for Republican Mark Kennedy in the U.S. Senate race. Although Kennedy was trounced by 20.2 points statewide, he only lost by 4.8 points in the 6th CD – his strongest performance across the state.

If the DFL picked up two U.S. House seats in 2008 it would mean the state would be at its ‘bluest’ in history. The DFL has never won 7 Congressional seats in an election. The DFL held 6 seats throughout the 1990s, but never more than 5 prior to 1990. Even when the Farmer Labor Party and Democratic Party were separate entities, they could not eclipse 6 seats between them (achieved twice, in 1932 and 1936) – and that was during an era when the state was sending double-digit delegations to D.C.

For the DFL to win 7 of 8 Congressional Districts in 2008, not only would Barack Obama probably need to win Minnesota in a landslide, but Al Franken (or whomever wins the DFL primary) would also need to beat Norm Coleman in the U.S. Senate race.

Barring such a dramatic shift to the DFL, the Party will need to be satisfied with a delegation of 5 or 6 seats to Congress come January 2009.

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Remains of the Data

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Political Crumbs

Evolving?

When Scott Walker "punted" back in February after being asked if he was comfortable with the idea of evolution he added, "That's a question a politician shouldn't be involved in one way or the other." However, it may very well be a question that is asked at one of the upcoming GOP debates this year. In South Carolina during the first GOP debate in 2012, FOX News' Juan Williams asked Tim Pawlenty, "Do you equate the teaching of creationism with the teaching of evolution as the basis for what should be taught for our nation's schools?" Pawlenty replied, "There should be room in the curriculum for study of intelligent design" but that it was up to the local school districts if it should be in a science class or comparative theory class. At the fourth Republican debate held in California, Jon Huntsman addressed the GOP becoming "anti-science" thusly: "Listen, when you make comments that fly in the face of what 98 out of 100 climate scientists have said, when you call into question the science of evolution, all I'm saying is that, in order for the Republican Party to win, we can't run from science. We can't run from mainstream conservative philosophy."


73 Months and Counting

January's preliminary Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers show Minnesota's unemployment rate of 3.7 percent was once again lower than Wisconsin's 5.0 percent. That marks the 73rd consecutive month in which Minnesota has boasted a lower jobless rate than its neighbor to the east dating back to January 2009 including each of the last 67 months by at least one point. The Gopher State has now edged Wisconsin in the employment border battle for 204 of the last 216 months dating back to February 1997. Wisconsin only managed a lower unemployment rate than Minnesota for the 12 months of 2008 during this 18-year span.


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