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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.

Previous post: 18 is Enough: South Dakota Democratic Senators and the Third Term Curse
Next post: Will Obama Perform Stronger in Wisconsin Than in Minnesota? Don’t Count On It

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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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