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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

Plurality-Winning Governors Elected At Century-Long High Water Mark

The rate of gubernatorial candidates elected without the support of a majority of voters is at its highest level since the 1910s.

Political Crumbs

Seeing Red

Congressman Nick Rahall's failed bid for a 20th term in West Virginia this cycle, combined with a narrow loss by Nick Casey to Alex Mooney in Shelley Moore Capito's open seat, means that West Virginia Democrats will be shut out of the state's U.S. House delegation for the first time in over 90 years. The Republican sweep by two-term incumbent David McKinley in the 1st CD, Mooney in the 2nd, and Evan Jenkins over Rahall in the 3rd marks the first time the GOP has held all seats in the chamber from West Virginia since the Election of 1920. During the 67th Congress (1921-1923) all six seats from the state were controlled by the GOP. Since the Election of 1922, Democrats have won 76 percent of all U.S. House elections in the Mountain State - capturing 172 seats compared to 54 for the GOP.


Home Field Advantage?

When the 114th Congress convenes in a few days, Maine will be represented by one home-grown U.S. Representative: Waterville-born Republican Bruce Poliquin. With the departure of Millinocket-born Mike Michaud, who launched a failed gubernatorial bid, the Pine Tree State was poised to send a House delegation to D.C. without any Maine-born members for the first time since 1821. Three-term U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree (born in Minnesota) coasted to reelection as expected, however Poliquin edged Kentucky-born Emily Cain by 5.3 points to keep the streak alive. Since 1876, a total of 208 of the 222 candidates elected to the nation's lower legislative chamber from the state have been born in Maine, or 94 percent.


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