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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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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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