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Democratic Control in Wisconsin At Greatest Level in a Generation

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With its takeover of the State Assembly last week, Democrats now control both legislative chambers and the governor’s office in the Badger State for the first time since the 1984 election.

Wisconsin Democrats were able to accomplish in 2008 what Republicans have done only one time since the 1968 election – control all three legislative and executive power points in Madison. With the exception of the Republican Revolution of 1994, Democrats have been in control of at least one of these three prongs of state government since 1970.

Democrats emerged with a majority of seats in the Assembly in every election from 1970 through 1992, only to lose control from 1994 through 2006.

In the Senate, Democrats ended a decade-plus run of Republican control in 1974, and then held onto power for 13 of the next 14 election cycles through the 2000 election (only briefly losing control in Election 1994, by a 17-16 margin). After GOP victories in two straight election cycles in 2002 and 2004, Democrats regained control of the upper legislative chamber in 2006.

Democrats controlled the governor’s office after the 1970 election with the first of two victories by Patrick J. Lucey, until Republican Lee Dreyfus’ open-race victory in 1978. Democrats briefly won back the executive branch in 1982 behind Anthony Earl, only to lose four straight elections to Republican Tommy Thompson from 1986 through 1998.

Since 1960, Democrats had controlled all three prongs of government in Wisconsin for eight years collectively, from 1975 through 1978 and 1983 through 1986. Aside from its two-year reign during the Republican Revolution (1995-1997), the last instance of power unity by the GOP lasted from 1967 through 1970.

Election 2008 also marks the first time since 1976 that Wisconsin Democrats control the governor’s office, have a majority of seats in both legislative chambers, will send a Democratic majority-led delegation to Congress, and voted for a Democratic presidential nominee. Republicans last accomplished this feat in the 1968 election.

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Political Crumbs

Strike Three for Miller-Meeks

Iowa Republicans had a banner day on November 4th, picking up both a U.S. Senate seat and one U.S. House seat, but Mariannette Miller-Meeks' defeat in her third attempt to oust Democrat Dave Loebsack in the 2nd CD means the GOP will not have a monopoly on the state's congressional delegation in the 114th Congress. The loss by Miller-Meeks (following up her defeats in 2008 and 2010) means major party nominees who lost their first two Iowa U.S. House races are now 0 for 10 the third time around in Iowa history. Miller-Meeks joins Democrat William Leffingwell (1858, 1868, 1870), Democrat Anthony Van Wagenen (1894, 1912 (special), 1912), Democrat James Murtagh (1906, 1914, 1916), Democrat Clair Williams (1944, 1946, 1952), Democrat Steven Carter (1948, 1950, 1956), Republican Don Mahon (1966, 1968, 1970), Republican Tom Riley (1968, 1974, 1976), Democrat Eric Tabor (1986, 1988, 1990), and Democrat Bill Gluba (1982, 1988, 2004) on the Hawkeye State's Three Strikes list.


Larry Pressler Wins the Silver

Larry Pressler may have fallen short in his long-shot, underfunded, and understaffed bid to return to the nation's upper legislative chamber, but he did end up notching the best showing for a non-major party South Dakota U.S. Senate candidate in more than 90 years. Pressler won 17.1 percent of the vote which is the best showing for an independent or third party U.S. Senate candidate in the state since 1920 when non-partisan candidate Tom Ayres won 24.1 percent in a race won by Republican Peter Norbeck. Overall, Pressler's 17.1 percent is good for the second best mark for a non-major party candidate across the 35 U.S. Senate contests in South Dakota history. Independent and third party candidates have appeared on the South Dakota U.S. Senate ballot just 25 times over the last century and only three have reached double digits: Pressler in 2014 and Ayres in 1920 and 1924 (12.1 percent). Pressler's defeat means he won't become the oldest candidate elected to the chamber in South Dakota history nor notch the record for the longest gap in service in the direct election era.


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