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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

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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