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U.S. Senate Race Ends Up 12 Votes Shy of '62 Gubernatorial Margin of Victory Record

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With the final results (court challenge pending) certified by the State Canvassing Board on Monday finding Al Franken with a 225-vote victory over Norm Coleman, the 2008 U.S. Senate race nearly eclipsed the 1962 gubernatorial election as the closest high-profile statewide election in Gopher State history.

For 46 years and counting, the 1962 gubernatorial contest has held the record as the narrowest margin of victory among presidential, gubernatorial, and U.S. Senate elections in Minnesota. That race's 91-vote difference, in which DFLer Karl Rolvagg defeated 1-term Republican incumbent Elmer L. Andersen, had a margin of victory of 7.2985 thousandths of a percent (.000072985).

While the 2008 Senate race was decided by 134 more votes, some 2.92+ million Minnesotans cast their ballots, compared to just 1.24+ million in 1962. As such, the margin of victory in the 2008 Senate race just missed setting a new record with a margin of victory of 7.7022 thousandths of a percent (.000077022).

Had Franken defeated Coleman by just 12 fewer votes (213), the margin of victory would have been 7.2793 thousandths of a percent - and become a new state record in elections for these high profile offices.

The net result is that the 1962 gubernatorial election was 4.037 ten-thousandths of a percentage point more tightly decided than the 2008 Senate contest.

Prior to 1962, the closest presidential, gubernatorial, or U.S. Senate race was the 1916 presidential election, in which Republican Charles E. Hughes defeated Democrat Woodrow Wilson in the Gopher State by 392 votes with a margin of victory of 1.0119 tenths of a percent (.0010119).

Margin of Victory Difference in Minnesota 1962 Gubernatorial and 2008 U.S. Senate Races

Election
Vote difference
Total votes
MoV (percent)
1962 Gubernatorial
91
1,246,827
.0072985
2008 U.S. Senate
225
2,921,211
.0077022
Difference
134
1,674,384
.0004037



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Remains of the Data

Who Has Won the Most Votes in US Senate Electoral History?

Only three of the Top 10 and nine of the Top 50 vote-getters of all time are currently serving in the chamber.

Political Crumbs

Six for Thirteen

Collin Peterson remarked last month that he is leaning to run for reelection to Minnesota's 7th Congressional District in 2016. If he does and is victorious, he will creep even closer to the top of the list of the longest-serving U.S. Representatives in Minnesota history. The DFL congressman is only the sixth Minnesotan to win at least 13 terms to the U.S. House of the 135 elected to the chamber in state history. Peterson trails 18-term DFLer Jim Oberstar (1975-2011), 16-term Republicans Harold Knutson (1917-1949) and August Andresen (1925-1933; 1935-1958), and 14-term DFLers Martin Sabo (1979-2007) and John Blatnik (1947-1974). Andresen died in office, Sabo and Blatnik retired, and Knutson and Oberstar were defeated at the ballot box in 1948 and 2010 respectively. At 70 years, 7 months, 11 days through Monday, Peterson is currently the ninth oldest Gopher State U.S. Representative in history. DFLer Rick Nolan of the 8th CD is the seventh oldest at 71 years, 1 month, 23 days.


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.


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