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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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Remains of the Data

Strange Bedfellows: A Historical Review of Divided US Senate Delegations

Over the last century, states have been twice as likely to be represented by a single political party in the U.S. Senate than have a split delegation; only Delaware, Iowa, and Illinois have been divided more than half the time.

Political Crumbs

Haugh to Reach New Heights

The North Carolina U.S. Senate race between Democratic incumbent Kay Hagan and Republican Thom Tillis may go down to the wire next Tuesday, but along the way Libertarian nominee Sean Haugh is poised to set a state record for a non-major party candidate. Haugh, who previously won 1.5 percent of the vote in the Tar Heel State's 2002 race, has polled at or above five percent in 10 of the last 12 polls that included his name. The current high water mark for a third party or independent candidate in a North Carolina U.S. Senate election is just 3.3 percent, recorded by Libertarian Robert Emory back in 1992. Only one other candidate has eclipsed the three percent mark - Libertarian Christopher Cole with 3.1 percent in 2008.


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).


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