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Will Obama Perform Stronger in Wisconsin Than in Minnesota? Don’t Count On It

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A new poll by Quinnipiac University of more than 1,000 likely voters in both Minnesota and Wisconsin was released Thursday with a surprising headline: Barack Obama led John McCain by just 2 points in the Gopher State (46 to 44 percent) but had an 11-point advantage over the Arizona Senator in the Badger State (50 to 39 percent).

Before McCain supporters get too enthusiastic that his campaign has made great inroads in Minnesota, and before Obama supporters get too self-assured that the Illinois Senator will roll to an easy win in Wisconsin, Smart Politics offers the following history lesson: the Democratic presidential nominee has performed more strongly in Minnesota than in Wisconsin during the last 17 elections, dating back to 1940.

In every election for the past 68 years, regardless of whether the Democratic nominee has carried both states (1940, 1948, 1964, 1976, 1988, 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004), only Minnesota (1944, 1960, 1968, 1980, 1984), or neither state (1952, 1956, 1972), Democrats have always fared better in Minnesota than in Wisconsin (as measured by the percentage point difference between the Democratic and Republican nominees in each state).

On average, Democratic presidential nominees have performed 7.6 points stronger in Minnesota than in the Badger State. During the past 5 elections since 1988 (when both states have consistently voted Democratic), the margin is 4.3 points.

Overall, Minnesota has voted for the Democratic nominee in 14 of the 17 elections since 1940, while Wisconsinites voted Democratic in just 9 of them.

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Political Crumbs

No 100-Year Curse for Roberts

Defeating his Tea Party primary challenger Milton Wolf with just 48.1 percent of the vote, Pat Roberts narrowly escaped becoming the first elected U.S. Senator from Kansas to lose a renomination bid in 100 years. The last - and so far only - elected U.S. Senator to lose a Kansas primary was one-term Republican Joseph Bristow in 1914. Bristow was defeated by former U.S. Senator Charles Curtis who went on to win three terms before becoming Herbert Hoover's running mate in 1928. Only one other U.S. Senator from the Sunflower State has lost a primary since the passage of the 17th Amendment: Sheila Frahm in 1996. Frahm was appointed to fill Bob Dole's seat earlier that year and finished 13.2 points behind Sam Brownback in the three-candidate primary field. Overall, incumbent senators from Kansas have won 29 times against two defeats in the direct vote era. (Curtis also lost a primary in 1912 to Walter Stubbs, one year before the nation moved to direct elections).


The Second Time Around

Former Republican Congressman Bob Beauprez became the seventh major party or second place gubernatorial candidate in Colorado to get a second chance at the office when he narrowly won his party's nomination last month. Two of the previous six candidates were successful. Democrat Alva Adams lost his first gubernatorial bid to Benjamin Eaton in 1884, but was victorious two years later against William Meyer. Democrat Charles Johnson placed third in 1894 behind Republican Albert McIntyre and Populist incumbent Governor David Waite but returned as the Fusion (Democrat/Populist) nominee in 1898 and defeated GOPer Henry Wolcott. Gubernatorial candidates who received a second chance but lost both general elections include Democrat Thomas Patterson (1888, 1914), Progressive Edward Costigan (1912, 1914), Republican Donald Brotzman (1954, 1956), and Republican David Strickland (1978, 1986).


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