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Will the GOP Make Gains in the Minnesota House?

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When the DFL swept its way into control of the Minnesota House in the 2006 election, some Republican officeholders and officials partially attributed the DFL 19-seat net gain to having all the cards fall just right for the DFL – that they won all the close races. House Minority Leader Marty Seifert stated earlier this month that he is therefore, "Very confident we can take the majority. We lost the majority in one cycle, we can take it back in one cycle."

Seifert’s ambitions about taking back the House were originally premised on the DFL nominating Hillary Clinton for President. In a Smart Politics interview with Seifert a little over a year ago, the Minority Leader stated, “I believe firmly that the Democrats will nominate Hillary Clinton for President and Al Franken for U.S. Senate. This will be one of the worst top of the tickets for the Democrats in Minnesota for years.?

Seifert’s hopes were, in fact, some DFL-ers' fears. In fact, one freshman DFL House member in a purple district told Smart Politics last summer that Clinton would be such a liability for the DFL that this Representative might not even run for re-election (with Barack Obama now the nominee, that individual is indeed running for a 2nd term).

It is true that in November 2006, the DFL won a majority of competitive races – those decided by 10 points or less – but far from all of them. The DFL won 27 of these races (61 percent), compared to 17 for the GOP (39 percent).

Still, Seifert and the Republicans face a mighty battle to gain even 5 or 10 seats, let alone take back control of the House.

First, Republicans will have to defend twice as many open districts (10) as the DFL (5). Two of these districts were competitive in 2006 (21B and 49B).

Secondly, as a result, the DFL will have more than twice as many incumbents on the ballot (80) as the GOP (39) – presuming that neither side experiences casualties in the September primaries. Thirteen percent of Republican incumbents (5 districts) are facing primary challengers (Districts 25A, 35B, 36A, 41B, 48B), compared to ten percent (8 districts) for the DFL (Districts 05B, 27A, 42A, 55A, 56A, 58A, 58B, 59B).

Thirdly, since the 1964 election the DFL has gained seats on the GOP in 7 presidential election years (1964, 1968, 1972, 1980, 1992, 2000, 2004), held serve once (1976), and lost seats to Republicans just 3 times (1984, 1988, 1996).

With Democratic enthusiasm riding higher than that for the Republicans by most metrics so far in Campaign 2008, Seifert’s characteristically bold prediction seems difficult to foresee. In fact, the DFL might just eke out the three net seats needed to give the Party its largest advantage in the House since 1976.

Previous post: Minnesota Home to Increasing Number of Self-Identified Democrats
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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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