Upon 9-term Republican U.S. Representative Jim Ramstad’s retirement announcement in 2007, the DFL knew Ramstad’s open 3rd CD seat would be a competitive race and a potential pick-up for the party in 2008. (The DFL is running Iraqi War veteran Ashwin Madia against Republican State Representative Erik Paulsen).
But the DFL can expect an extra bump in 2008, beyond that which it would normally experience in this year’s open seat battle. That is because for the past 20 years, the GOP margin of victory in the 3rd CD has decreased in every presidential election year from the previous off-year cycle. The consistent uptick for DFL candidates in presidential election years has held even in the face of redistricting, which changes the demographics of districts every 10 years.
· When Mike Dukakis carried the Gopher State in 1988, the DFL picked up 3.6 points in the 3rd CD from their 40.2-point loss in 1986.
· Bill Clinton’s first victory in Minnesota in 1992 found the DFL again picking up 3.6 points from their 34-point loss in the district in 1990.
· When Bill Clinton was reelected in 1996, the DFL picked up 6.6 points from their 46.9-point loss in the district during the Republican Revolution of 1994.
· The DFL picked up 10.6 points during Al Gore’s victory in 2000, after having lost the 3rd CD by 48.4 points in 1998.
· And when Ramstad won his 8th term in 2004, he did so by 14.8 points less with John Kerry carrying the state, compared to Ramstad’s 44.1-point victory in 2002.
Ramstad won the 3rd CD by 29.9 points in 2006, but most pundits now rate the race as a toss-up, even though the GOP has carried the banner of the 3rd CD in the Gopher State in every election since 1960.