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Third Party Impact on the 2008 Minnesota Legislative Vote

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Third party candidates in the Gopher State made a slight comeback in 2008, and had some impact on Minnesota legislative races on Tuesday.

Two races were decidedly impacted by third party candidacies. In the open DFL House District 51A, Republican Tim Sanders defeated DFL candidate Shawn Hamilton by a 47.8 to 43.2 percent margin. Independence Party candidate Daniel William Sanders won 8.7 percent - nearly twice as much as the winning victory margin of 4.6 points. Barack Obama carried the battleground district by 1.5 points in the presidential contest, as did El Tinklenberg by 8.1 points in the 6th CD race. Norm Coleman, however, won the district by 7.2 points in the US Senate race.

In the special election to fill Republican Senator Betsy Wergin's seat (who was appointed to the Public Utilities Commission) in Senate District 16, write-in votes for exiled Republican Mark Olson netted 1,462 votes, or 3.2 percent. As a result, the district flipped as DFLer Lisa Fobbe defeated Republican primary winner Alison Krueger by just 85 votes. Smart Politics contemplated a DFL pickup in SD 16 back in mid-August prior to the Republican primary.

Incumbent, "Override 6" alumni, and former Republican Ron Erhardt, who ran on the Moderate Independent Party ticket this year to challenge Republican nominee Keith Downey and DFLer Kevin Staunton, also may have helped the GOP carry his 41A House District. Downey defeated Erhardt by 4.8 points and Staunton by 5.3 points in a district Barack Obama won by 12.6 points. It is unclear if Staunton would have prevailed had Erhardt stepped down after failing to win the GOP nomination, however, as Norm Coleman won the district by 8.6 points and Erik Paulsen won the 3rd CD race in 41A by 6.7 points.

Overall, there were 14 candidates on the ballot in Minnesota House races - up from 11 in 2006. The number of third party state House candidacies is down from its 1996-2004 heyday, in which an average of 29 candidates appeared on the ballot.

Previous post: Independence Party Sets New Records in Election 2008
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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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