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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

No Free Passes: States With 2 Major Party Candidates in Every US House Race

Indiana has now placed candidates from both major parties on the ballot in a nation-best 189 consecutive U.S. House races, with New Hampshire, Minnesota, Idaho, and Montana also north of 100 in a row.

Political Crumbs

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).


An Idaho Six Pack

Two-term Idaho Republican Governor Butch Otter only polled at 39 percent in a recent PPP survey of the state's 2014 race - just four points ahead of Democratic businessman A.J. Balukoff. Otter's low numbers reflect his own struggles as a candidate (witness his weak primary win against State Senator Russ Fulcher) combined with the opportunity for disgruntled Idahoans to cast their votes for one of four third party and independent candidates, who collectively received the support of 12 percent of likely voters: Libertarian John Bujak, the Constitution Party's Steve Pankey, and independents Jill Humble and Pro-Life (aka Marvin Richardson). The six candidate options in a gubernatorial race sets an all-time record in the Gem State across the 46 elections conducted since statehood. The previous high water mark of five candidates was reached in seven previous cycles: 1902, 1904, 1908, 1912, 1914, 1966, and 2010.


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