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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

Plurality-Winning Governors Elected At Century-Long High Water Mark

The rate of gubernatorial candidates elected without the support of a majority of voters is at its highest level since the 1910s.

Political Crumbs

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.


Home Field Advantage?

When the 114th Congress convenes in a few days, Maine will be represented by one home-grown U.S. Representative: Waterville-born Republican Bruce Poliquin. With the departure of Millinocket-born Mike Michaud, who launched a failed gubernatorial bid, the Pine Tree State was poised to send a House delegation to D.C. without any Maine-born members for the first time since 1821. Three-term U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree (born in Minnesota) coasted to reelection as expected, however Poliquin edged Kentucky-born Emily Cain by 5.3 points to keep the streak alive. Since 1876, a total of 208 of the 222 candidates elected to the nation's lower legislative chamber from the state have been born in Maine, or 94 percent.


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