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House DFLers Head Into 2010 With Favorable Electoral Map

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Despite failing to net five seats and reach a 90-seat supermajority in the House of Representatives, the DFL is actually now in a much stronger position heading into 2010 than they were heading into Tuesday’s election. Perhaps more important than netting two additional seats, the DFL deepened their support in districts throughout the state.

In 2006, House DFLers won 27 of their 85 seats by less than 10 points. As a result, many analysts (as well as Minority Leader Marty Siefert) expected Republicans to be able to take advantage of these narrow victory margins in 2008.

But, perhaps due to the unfavorable national political environment for Republicans, that only happened in a few races (Districts 28A, 31B, 37A, and 51A). In fact, the DFL actually expanded their victory margins in 2008: only 18 of the DFL’s 87 seats (21 percent) were won with victory margins of less than 10 points – down from 32 percent of seats won in 2006.

The GOP, on the other hand, basically treaded water. In 2006 17 of their 49 victories were by less than 10 points (35 percent); in 2008, 15 of the GOP’s 47 victories were decided by single-digits (32 percent).

When you add in near competitive races, those decided by less than 20 points, the numbers get even more grim for the House Republicans: more than two-thirds of seats won in 2008, 32 of 47 districts, were decided by less than 20 points, compared to just 39 percent of seats won by the DFL (34 of 87 districts).

The most glaring advantage at the moment for the DFL is that nearly half of their seats are being won in blowouts: 42 of 87 districts were carried by victory margins of 30 or more points on Tuesday (48 percent). In stark contrast, only 5 Republican districts (11 percent) were won by such a landslide margin.

The upshot here is that that the DFL leadership can continue to challenge Governor Tim Pawlenty with a bold agenda, without a significant fear of reprisal in 2010. Sure, if the DFL pushes too far they will lose seats, but it will be very difficult for the DFL to lose party control back to the Republicans in 2010, given these recent historical election trends.

In short, expect Pawlenty to sleep at night with his veto pen tucked under his pillow.

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Remains of the Data

Who Has Won the Most Votes in US Senate Electoral History?

Only three of the Top 10 and nine of the Top 50 vote-getters of all time are currently serving in the chamber.

Political Crumbs

Six for Thirteen

Collin Peterson remarked last month that he is leaning to run for reelection to Minnesota's 7th Congressional District in 2016. If he does and is victorious, he will creep even closer to the top of the list of the longest-serving U.S. Representatives in Minnesota history. The DFL congressman is only the sixth Minnesotan to win at least 13 terms to the U.S. House of the 135 elected to the chamber in state history. Peterson trails 18-term DFLer Jim Oberstar (1975-2011), 16-term Republicans Harold Knutson (1917-1949) and August Andresen (1925-1933; 1935-1958), and 14-term DFLers Martin Sabo (1979-2007) and John Blatnik (1947-1974). Andresen died in office, Sabo and Blatnik retired, and Knutson and Oberstar were defeated at the ballot box in 1948 and 2010 respectively. At 70 years, 7 months, 11 days through Monday, Peterson is currently the ninth oldest Gopher State U.S. Representative in history. DFLer Rick Nolan of the 8th CD is the seventh oldest at 71 years, 1 month, 23 days.


Seeing Red

Congressman Nick Rahall's failed bid for a 20th term in West Virginia this cycle, combined with a narrow loss by Nick Casey to Alex Mooney in Shelley Moore Capito's open seat, means that West Virginia Democrats will be shut out of the state's U.S. House delegation for the first time in over 90 years. The Republican sweep by two-term incumbent David McKinley in the 1st CD, Mooney in the 2nd, and Evan Jenkins over Rahall in the 3rd marks the first time the GOP has held all seats in the chamber from West Virginia since the Election of 1920. During the 67th Congress (1921-1923) all six seats from the state were controlled by the GOP. Since the Election of 1922, Democrats have won 76 percent of all U.S. House elections in the Mountain State - capturing 172 seats compared to 54 for the GOP.


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