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Smart Politics Projections: Federal Races in Minnesota

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Through the morning of November 4th, Smart Politics is running a series of electoral projections for Upper Midwestern federal and state governmental contests. The tenth projections in the series are federal races in the State of Minnesota.

Minnesota: President.
Barack Obama has trailed John McCain only once in 40 non-partisan public polls conducted of Gopher State residents since mid-March. Unlike the previous two elections in which the Democratic nominee won Minnesota in closely fought contests, Obama will likely flirt with a double-digit victory in 2008. Smart Politics Projection: Democratic Hold (from 2004).

Minnesota: U.S. Senate.
Since popular vote elections for U.S. Senators began in Minnesota in 1912, Republicans have won 18 of 36 contests, including 7 of the last 11 elections dating back to 1978. Coleman’s well-received debate performances and surprising newspaper endorsements may have offset his questionable ad campaign from earlier this autumn. Franken, meanwhile has been struggling to capitalize on the state’s Democratic leanings by his inability to connect with independent voters, to some degree complicated by Barkley’s campaign. Smart Politics Projection: Republican Hold.

Minnesota: U.S. House-01.
George W. Bush carried the 1st District in both 2004 (51.1 percent to 47.4 percent over John Kerry) and 2000 (47.7 percent to 46.0 percent over Al Gore). Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty also carried the district decisively in his successful re-election bid in 2006 (49.3 percent to 43.8 percent). The fact that Walz outperformed the top of his ticket by 11.1 points in 2006 indicates he resonates with members of his district as more than a ‘typical Democrat.’ Smart Politics Projection: DFL Hold.

Minnesota: U.S. House-02.
The 2nd District is the most reliably Republican district in the state, and John Kline performed even with Tim Pawlenty in the district in 2006 - each winning by 16.2 points. Kline will take a bit of a hit from Obama’s presence on the ballot, but the 2nd District is the most reliably Republican district in the state, and should act as such on Election Day. Smart Politics Projection: Republican Hold.

Minnesota: U.S. House-03.
Minnesota’s 3rd Congressional District has not voted for a DFL candidate since 1958 – a string of 24 consecutive elections. While there has been a swing towards the Democrats in the district in recent years, the fairly conservative district will narrowly elect Erik Paulsen due to Ashwin Madia’s perceived shallow knowledge of the issues, Independence Party candidate David Dillon’s greater appeal to Democrats than Republicans, and, perhaps at the margins, a desire to honor the wishes of its beloved outgoing Representative, Jim Ramstad. Smart Politics Projection: Republican Hold.

Minnesota: U.S. House-04.
The DFL has carried the 4th District in every race from 1948 through 2006, and popular incumbent Betty McCollum will easily extend the DFL run in the district to 31 straight elections. Smart Politics Projection: DFL Hold.

Minnesota: U.S. House-05.
The DFL has won the last 23 races in the 5th District dating back to 1962, and Republicans have only eclipsed 30 percent of the vote in the district in two elections since 1972. That is a recipie for success for Keith Ellison. Smart Politics Projection: DFL Hold.

Minnesota: U.S. House-06.
While recent polls after the development of Bachmann’s Hardball comments have highlighted the tight race between Bachmann and Tinklenberg, the fact that the 6th District was a competitive race both in 2004 and 2006 gets lost in the discussion. In a Democratic tidal wave election (in 2008, as in 2006), even the 6th District (without the recent controversy) would pose some challenges for Bachmann. Those challenges have simply been compounded by the controversy, Tinklenberg’s subsequent fundraising goldmine, and perhaps, at the margins, Immelman’s reentry into the race. Tinklenberg may just eke out a win in what will probably be the narrowest margin of victory in the state's eight U.S. House races. Smart Politics Projection: DFL Pick-up.

Minnesota: U.S. House-07.
The 7th Congressional District is one of the more conservative in the state: Tim Pawlenty carried the district by 8.4 points in 2006, George W. Bush carried it by 12.4 points in 2004 and by 14.6 points in 2000. Rod Grams also won the district by 4.4 points over Mark Dayton in 2000. Despite its conservative tendencies, Republicans have not offered up a competitive candidate against Collin Peterson in the district since 1994. While a traditional Democrat in the 7th District may be nervous on Election Day, a Blue Dog Democrat like Peterson will have few worries. Smart Politics Projection: DFL Hold.

Minnesota: U.S. House-08.
The DFL has held the 8th District seat since 1946, and 17-term Representative Jim Oberstar will add another crushing double-digit victory to his already remarkable electoral record. Smart Politics Projection: DFL Hold.

Previous post: Smart Politics Projections: South Dakota House (2008)
Next post: Smart Politics Projections: U.S. Senate Races

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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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