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Ted Stevens Indictment Boosts Odds of 1st Democratic Senate Victory in Alaska Since 1974

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Today's indictment of Alaska Republican Senator Ted Stevens on seven felony counts of concealing gifts from lobbyists makes one of the Democratic Party's prime U.S. Senate targets that much closer to a pick-up in November.

Stevens surprised many by announcing he would run for a 7th term, despite an ongoing Federal probe and rumors of a possible indictment for more than a year. The indictment makes his likely Democratic opponent, Mark Begich, a rare statewide favorite to win a Federal election in the state.

Democrats have only won 1 of the last 13 U.S. Senate races, dating back to 1970. The average Republican margin of victory has been 34 points during that span. In fact, in Stevens' last two victories, in 1996 and 2002, Democrats failed to win 11 percent of the vote - receiving less than the combined total of third party candidates in both years (and losing outright to the Green Party in 1996).

However, Democrats came very close to winning Alaska's last Senate race - in 2004 - when former Governor Tony Knowles lost by just 3 points (Republicans were plagued in that race as well, but only by charges of nepotism: Governor Frank Murkowski had appointed his daughter, Lisa, to his own unexpired U.S. Senate seat in 2002, which he vacated to become Governor).

Stevens won his first full term in a special election in 1970, and has not won less than 66 percent of the vote in his six re-election bids since. Begich led Stevens in the most recent public opinion poll - 50 to 41 percent (Rasmussen, July 17th, 500 likely voters).

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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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