Go to HHH home page.
Smart Politics
 


Minnesota GOP US House Candidates Receive Lowest Voter Support Since 1934

Bookmark and Share

If politics is a bottom line business, then the Republican Party of Minnesota can be rightfully pleased to have won three U.S. House seats last month. Several pundits, such as the Rothenberg Political Report, projected the DFL to pick up both Michele Bachmann’s seat in the 6th CD as well as the open 3rd District. Republicans won a plurality in each contest, along with a comfortable victory in John Kline’s 2nd CD.

But that’s where the good news ends for the GOP.

A Smart Politics study of 318 general election U.S. House races conducted over the past 74 years finds that in 2008 Republicans endured the lowest percentage of ballots cast for its U.S. House candidates since the Great Depression (1934). The 2008 GOP performance was also the worst turned in by either of the state’s primary political parties since the DFL merger in 1944.

In 2008, just 38.1 percent of Minnesotans cast their ballots for Republicans in U.S. House contests, compared to 57.5 percent for the DFL and 4.3 percent for third party candidates. This marks the 6th largest vote percentage for the DFL in its history (behind 1986, 1990, 1988, 1976, and 1974 respectively). In total, 1,612,480 ballots were cast for the DFL, compared to 1,069,015 for Republicans, and 121,119 for third party or write-in candidates.

Votes for Republican U.S. House candidates had not dipped below the 40 percent mark since the second time FDR was elected president back in 1936. In that year, 38.5 percent of Gopher State residents voted for Republicans, with 42.4 percent for Farmer-Laborites, 17.4 percent for Democrats, and 1.6 percent for other political parties. Even fighting in tough three-way battles in 1936, House Republican candidates fared slightly better in that year than in 2008 – by about a half a percent. In 1934 32.5 percent of voters cast their ballots for Republicans in U.S. House contests.

In 2008, Republicans also received a lower percentage of the vote than in any year in DFL history. Even in its inaugural election of 1944, the DFL outperformed the GOP of 2008 by 2.7 points (at 40.8 percent). In fact, DFL U.S. House hopefuls have never received less than 40 percent of the vote en masse in a general election.

The implications for this dismal Republican performance are enormous as the state begins to contemplate new districts after the 2010 U.S. Census – especially considering the fact that Minnesota is projected to lose one Congressional seat to apportionment, according to Tom Gillaspy, State Demographer of the Minnesota Department of Administration.

More than 543,000 votes were cast for DFL U.S. House candidates than for Republicans in 2008: if that trend continues it is difficult to imagine how any new redistricting map plays out favorably for the GOP – especially with the legislature currently comfortably under DFL control (though any plan under the current system would need the approval of the Governor, unless thrown to the courts).

However, despite dismal support in 2008 for Republican U.S. House candidates overall, speculation by pundits that the DFL would win 7 seats in Minnesota was a gross overestimate to say the least: the DFL has never won 7 U.S. House seats in any election year in Gopher State history. In fact, even though they won a larger percentage of the vote than in 2008, the DFL also won only 5 seats in 1974, 1976, 1986, and 1988 (the DFL won 6 seats from 1990 through 1998).

Minnesota U.S. House Votes Received By Party, 1934-2008

Year
DFL
GOP
Other
2008
57.5
38.1
4.3
2006
52.9
42.4
4.7
2004
51.4
45.4
3.2
2002
49.9
46.8
3.4
2000
52.2
42.0
5.8
1998
53.5
42.3
4.2
1996
55.1
41.8
3.1
1994
50.6
48.4
1.0
1992
51.8
40.9
7.3
1990
58.5
41.4
0.1
1988
58.3
41.1
0.5
1986
59.7
40.0
0.3
1984
53.7
45.7
0.6
1982
54.6
44.4
0.9
1980
47.6
51.8
0.6
1978
51.2
46.6
2.3
1976
58.0
40.6
1.4
1974
57.9
40.4
1.8
1972
53.1
45.0
1.9
1970
53.1
46.7
0.2
1968
47.7
52.2
0.1
1966
48.4
51.6
0.0
1964
54.4
45.6
0.1
1962
49.7
50.2
0.0
1960
50.2
49.5
0.4
1958
53.3
46.7
0.0
1956
51.3
48.7
0.0
1954
53.0
47.0
0.0
1952
46.0
54.0
0.0
1950
46.5
52.9
0.5
1948
49.8
50.2
0.0
1946
40.9
58.8
0.3
1944
40.8
58.9
0.3
1942*
40.5
59.4
0.1
1940*
46.5
53.1
0.4
1938*
49.3
50.2
0.4
1936*
59.8
38.5
1.6
1934*
63.6
32.5
4.0

* Denotes cumulative total from Democratic and Farmer-Labor candidates.


Previous post: Live Blog: Redistricting in Minnesota
Next post: Bigger D.C. Power Broker: Jim Oberstar or David Obey?

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