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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

Gender Equality in the US House: A State-by State Quarter-Century Report Card (1989-2014)

A study of 5,325 congressional elections finds the number of female U.S. Representatives has more than tripled over the last 25 years, but the rate at which women are elected to the chamber still varies greatly between the states.

Political Crumbs

Small Club in St. Paul

Mark Dayton is one of just three Minnesotans ever elected to three different statewide offices. Dayton, of course, had previously served as State Auditor (1991-1995) and U.S. Senator (2001-2007) before winning the governorship in 2010. At that time, he joined Republicans Edward Thye and J.A.A. Burnquist on this very short list. Burnquist was elected lieutenant governor in 1914 but then became governor after the death of Democrat Winfield Hammond in 1915. He then won the gubernatorial elections of 1916 and 1918 and eight terms as attorney general two decades later (1939-1955). Thye was similarly first elected lieutenant governor of the Gopher State and became governor after the resignation of fellow GOPer Harold Stasson in 1943. Thye won one additional full term as governor in 1944 and then two terms to the U.S. Senate (1947-1959). Twenty Minnesotans have been elected to two different statewide offices.


Respect Your Elders?

With retirement announcements this year by veteran U.S. Representatives such as 30-term Democrat John Dingell of Michigan, 20-term Democrat George Miller of California, and 18-term Republican Tom Petri of Wisconsin, it is no surprise that retirees from the 113th Congress are one of the most experienced cohorts in recent decades. Overall, these 24 exiting members of the House have served an average of 11.0 terms - the second longest tenure among retirees across the last 18 cycles since 1980. Only the U.S. Representatives retiring in 2006 had more experience, averaging 11.9 terms. (In that cycle, 10 of the 11 retiring members served at least 10 terms, with GOPer Bill Jenkins of Tennessee the lone exception at just five). Even without the aforementioned Dingell, the average length of service in the chamber of the remaining 23 retirees in 2014 is 10.2 terms - which would still be the third highest since 1980 behind the 2006 and 2012 (10.5 terms) cycles.


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