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Iowa House Democrats Eye to Expand Advantage in '08

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Iowa Democrats seek to retain control of the House of Representatives in back-to-back elections for the first time since 1988/1990. Democrats won control of the House in 2006 with a 5-seat gain (as projected by Smart Politics), ending a 14-year reign by the GOP.

In 2008, Democrats take a 53 to 47-seat advantage into November’s elections. While third party candidates and those nominated by petition can still file for a few more days with the Secretary of State, the major party candidates have already been determined.

There are several reasons to expect Democrats will expand their lead in the state’s lower legislative chamber:

· Democrats will run 49 incumbents, compared to just 38 for the Republicans. That means Republicans will be defending 9 open seats compared to just 4 for the Democrats.

· Republicans will also have to defend 11 of the 19 districts that were competitive in 2006 – those decided by 10 points or less.

· Democrats also enjoy the advantage of running more than three times as many candidates in districts unchallenged by the GOP (17) as Republicans running in districts without Democratic candidates (5).

Overall, the Democratic and Republican parties did a better job fielding candidates for House races in 2008, compared to 2006. In 2006 there were 41 contests without major party challengers out of 100 races. That number dropped to 30 this year – a healthier sign of electoral competitiveness and democracy at work in the Hawkeye State.

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Remains of the Data

Gender Equality in the US House: A State-by State Quarter-Century Report Card (1989-2014)

A study of 5,325 congressional elections finds the number of female U.S. Representatives has more than tripled over the last 25 years, but the rate at which women are elected to the chamber still varies greatly between the states.

Political Crumbs

Small Club in St. Paul

Mark Dayton is one of just three Minnesotans ever elected to three different statewide offices. Dayton, of course, had previously served as State Auditor (1991-1995) and U.S. Senator (2001-2007) before winning the governorship in 2010. At that time, he joined Republicans Edward Thye and J.A.A. Burnquist on this very short list. Burnquist was elected lieutenant governor in 1914 but then became governor after the death of Democrat Winfield Hammond in 1915. He then won the gubernatorial elections of 1916 and 1918 and eight terms as attorney general two decades later (1939-1955). Thye was similarly first elected lieutenant governor of the Gopher State and became governor after the resignation of fellow GOPer Harold Stassen in 1943. Thye won one additional full term as governor in 1944 and then two terms to the U.S. Senate (1947-1959). Twenty Minnesotans have been elected to two different statewide offices.


Respect Your Elders?

With retirement announcements this year by veteran U.S. Representatives such as 30-term Democrat John Dingell of Michigan, 20-term Democrat George Miller of California, and 18-term Republican Tom Petri of Wisconsin, it is no surprise that retirees from the 113th Congress are one of the most experienced cohorts in recent decades. Overall, these 24 exiting members of the House have served an average of 11.0 terms - the second longest tenure among retirees across the last 18 cycles since 1980. Only the U.S. Representatives retiring in 2006 had more experience, averaging 11.9 terms. (In that cycle, 10 of the 11 retiring members served at least 10 terms, with GOPer Bill Jenkins of Tennessee the lone exception at just five). Even without the aforementioned Dingell, the average length of service in the chamber of the remaining 23 retirees in 2014 is 10.2 terms - which would still be the third highest since 1980 behind the 2006 and 2012 (10.5 terms) cycles.


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