Go to HHH home page.
Smart Politics
 


MN Senate Election Analysis, Part 2: Norm Coleman’s Metro Slide

Bookmark and Share

On Monday, Smart Politics examined the margin of victory and loss in each county between the DFL candidates in the 2006 gubernatorial and 2008 U.S. Senate races, and found Al Franken most severely underperformed in the Northern counties of the Gopher State vis-à-vis Mike Hatch.

Today, in the second part of the series, Smart Politics focuses on the geographic region of the state that contributed most to putting Norm Coleman in the position he is in today: lawyered up and nervously awaiting the results of a high-profile recount.

By examining the margin of victory or loss in each county across the state between Republican Tim Pawlenty in the 2006 gubernatorial contest and Coleman in the 2008 U.S. Senate race, it is clear that a moderate slide in the metro area did the greatest damage to Coleman’s vote tally.

Overall, across the state, Coleman actually improved on Pawlenty’s performance in most counties: Coleman increased the margin of victory (or decreased the margin of loss) for the GOP in 50 of the state’s 87 counties from 2006. Franken improved on Hatch's performance in just 32 counties, and 5 counties saw no measurable change.

However, even though the drops were modest, Coleman was clearly hurt by the ground he lost in each of the 7 metro counties from Pawlenty’s 2006 performance – including those that are GOP-leaning. The 1-term GOP incumbent lost 8 points off Pawlenty's victory margin in Carver County, 5 points in Scott, 3 points in Dakota, 2 points in Washington, and 1 point in Anoka County. Coleman also endured an increased margin of loss by 4 points in Hennepin County and 1 point in Ramsey County.

Now, this may seem like only moderate ground lost for Coleman, considering the multitude of counties in which Franken’s margin of victory or loss was double-digits worse than Mike Hatch in 2006. In fact, Coleman dropped off from Pawlenty’s margin of victory or loss by double-digits in just one county across the entire state: Steele (by 10 points). Franken, on the other hand, endured double-digit drop-offs in thirteen counties: Freeborn, Carlton, Hubbard, Polk, St. Louis, Pennington, Marshall, Lake, Lake of the Woods, Kittson, Clearwater, Koochiching, and Red Lake.

The problem for Coleman, of course, is that the seven metro counties are densely populated. As such, Franken was able to offset double-digit dips in many counties simply by bettering Hatch’s performance in Hennepin County by 4 points.

What further compounds Coleman’s metro problem is that election turnout in this presidential election year (77.9 percent) was obviously much higher than when Pawlenty ran in 2006 (59.5 percent): a 30.9 percent increase. That means the increased deficits Coleman suffered in Hennepin and Ramsey Counties were multiplied, and the victory margins Coleman enjoyed in Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Scott, and Washington Counties were not fully maximized. More to the point, voter turnout in the Metro region was disproportionately higher in the 2008 U.S. Senate race than in the 2006 gubernatorial election. Voter turnout increased 30.9 percent statewide from 2006 to 2008, but increased by 33.7 percent in the metro region:

Scott: +41.9 percent
Carver: +35.8 percent
Anoka: +35.6 percent
Dakota: +34.1 percent
Hennepin: +33.7 percent
Ramsey: +31.8 percent
Washington: +30.3 percent

The metro region accounted for 55 percent of the statewide votes in the U.S. Senate race in 2008, compared to 53.9 percent of the gubernatorial votes in 2006. And, more importantly, the Democratic strongholds of Hennepin and Ramsey counties accounted for 30.5 percent of the 2008 Senate vote statewide, compared to 29.9 percent of the gubernatorial vote in 2006.

In an election decided by a few hundred votes, this disproportionately higher turnout in Hennepin and Ramsey counties in 2008 may ultimately be the deciding factor in the race.

Previous post: MN Senate Election Analysis, Part 1: Franken Underperforms in Northern Minnesota
Next post: Smart Politics On WCCO-TV's "Good Question": Obama and His Blackberry

Leave a comment


Remains of the Data

Is There a Presidential Drag On Gubernatorial Elections?

Only five of the 20 presidents to serve since 1900 have seen their party win a majority of gubernatorial elections during their administrations, and only one since JFK.

Political Crumbs

Strike Three for Miller-Meeks

Iowa Republicans had a banner day on November 4th, picking up both a U.S. Senate seat and one U.S. House seat, but Mariannette Miller-Meeks' defeat in her third attempt to oust Democrat Dave Loebsack in the 2nd CD means the GOP will not have a monopoly on the state's congressional delegation in the 114th Congress. The loss by Miller-Meeks (following up her defeats in 2008 and 2010) means major party nominees who lost their first two Iowa U.S. House races are now 0 for 10 the third time around in Iowa history. Miller-Meeks joins Democrat William Leffingwell (1858, 1868, 1870), Democrat Anthony Van Wagenen (1894, 1912 (special), 1912), Democrat James Murtagh (1906, 1914, 1916), Democrat Clair Williams (1944, 1946, 1952), Democrat Steven Carter (1948, 1950, 1956), Republican Don Mahon (1966, 1968, 1970), Republican Tom Riley (1968, 1974, 1976), Democrat Eric Tabor (1986, 1988, 1990), and Democrat Bill Gluba (1982, 1988, 2004) on the Hawkeye State's Three Strikes list.


Larry Pressler Wins the Silver

Larry Pressler may have fallen short in his long-shot, underfunded, and understaffed bid to return to the nation's upper legislative chamber, but he did end up notching the best showing for a non-major party South Dakota U.S. Senate candidate in more than 90 years. Pressler won 17.1 percent of the vote which is the best showing for an independent or third party U.S. Senate candidate in the state since 1920 when non-partisan candidate Tom Ayres won 24.1 percent in a race won by Republican Peter Norbeck. Overall, Pressler's 17.1 percent is good for the second best mark for a non-major party candidate across the 35 U.S. Senate contests in South Dakota history. Independent and third party candidates have appeared on the South Dakota U.S. Senate ballot just 25 times over the last century and only three have reached double digits: Pressler in 2014 and Ayres in 1920 and 1924 (12.1 percent). Pressler's defeat means he won't become the oldest candidate elected to the chamber in South Dakota history nor notch the record for the longest gap in service in the direct election era.


more POLITICAL CRUMBS

Humphrey School Sites
CSPG
Humphrey New Media Hub

Issues />

<div id=
Abortion
Afghanistan
Budget and taxes
Campaign finances
Crime and punishment
Economy and jobs
Education
Energy
Environment
Foreign affairs
Gender
Health
Housing
Ideology
Immigration
Iraq
Media
Military
Partisanship
Race and ethnicity
Reapportionment
Redistricting
Religion
Sexuality
Sports
Terrorism
Third parties
Transportation
Voting