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Iowa Democrats Enjoying Historic Run in House of Representatives

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For the first time in modern Hawkeye State political history, Iowa Democrats have made gains in the State House of Representatives in four consecutive elections.

Smart Politics examined Iowa election returns for more than fifty years dating back to the mid-1950s, and neither the Democratic nor Republican parties had ever made gains in the House in four consecutive elections.

The streak began in 2002:

· Iowa Democrats won 44 seats in the 1998 and 2000 elections.
· After redistricting, in 2002, Democrats won 46 seats.
· Democrats nearly won control of the 100-seat chamber in 2004, winning 49 seats.
· Democrats then took control in 2006, by winning 54 seats.
· Democrats expanded their lead by picking up 3 more seats in 2008.

Over the course of these four election cycles, Democrats have netted 13 seats – from 44 to 57 Representatives.

To be sure, there have been wider swings in given election cycles over the course of the past 50+ years. For example, during the Republican Revolution of 1994, the GOP picked up 13 seats, expanding their two-seat majority in 1992 to 28 seats. During the Reagan recession of 1982, Democrats won 60 seats – 18 more than in 1980. After Watergate and Nixon’s resignation in 1974, Democrats won 61 seats – 17 more than in 1972.

Still, neither political party has enjoyed the kind of sustained shift in momentum that Iowa Democrats are currently experiencing in the House of Representatives. During two stretches in the past 50 years Republicans had put together gains in the House in three consecutive election cycles: from 1976 to 1980 (from 39 seats in 1974, to 41 seats in 1976, to 56 seats in 1978, to 58 seats in 1980) and from 1990 to 1994 (from 39 seats in 1988, to 45 seats in 1990, to 51 seats in 1992, to 64 seats in 1994).

Iowa Democrats, like its neighbors in Wisconsin, currently enjoy unified power in the House, Senate, and Governor’s office.

Previous post: Democratic Control in Wisconsin At Greatest Level in a Generation
Next post: MN Senate Election Analysis, Part 1: Franken Underperforms in Northern Minnesota

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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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