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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

Plurality-Winning Governors Elected At Century-Long High Water Mark

The rate of gubernatorial candidates elected without the support of a majority of voters is at its highest level since the 1910s.

Political Crumbs

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.


Home Field Advantage?

When the 114th Congress convenes in a few days, Maine will be represented by one home-grown U.S. Representative: Waterville-born Republican Bruce Poliquin. With the departure of Millinocket-born Mike Michaud, who launched a failed gubernatorial bid, the Pine Tree State was poised to send a House delegation to D.C. without any Maine-born members for the first time since 1821. Three-term U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree (born in Minnesota) coasted to reelection as expected, however Poliquin edged Kentucky-born Emily Cain by 5.3 points to keep the streak alive. Since 1876, a total of 208 of the 222 candidates elected to the nation's lower legislative chamber from the state have been born in Maine, or 94 percent.


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