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Governor Doyle Would Make History By Winning 3rd Term

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Just like Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty would make history in the Gopher State if he won a third term (making him the longest ever serving Governor in the state), Governor Jim Doyle would also make history in Wisconsin if he should run and win a third term. A successful reelection bid in 2010 would make Doyle the first 3-term Democratic Governor in the state's 160+ year history.

Six Democratic Governors have served two terms, although only Patrick J. Lucey (in 1970 and 1974) and Doyle (in 2002 and 2006) have been elected to two 4-year terms. The other two-term Democratic Governors in Badger State history are:

· Nelson Dewy (1848, 1849)
· William Augustus Barstow (1853, 1855)
· George Wilbur Peck (1890, 1892)
· Gaylord Anton Nelson (1958, 1960)

Republicans have historically dominated gubernatorial elections in Wisconsin, winning 51 of 71 contests (71.8 percent). Democrats have won 16 elections (22.5 percent), with Progressives (1934, 1936, 1942) and Whigs (1851) winning the other four contests.

Success has not come easily for Democratic governors, as 9 of the 16 winning Democratic candidates have been elected by less than 10 points, with an average margin of victory of 8.5 points across all 16 victories:

Margin of Victory of Successful Wisconsin Democratic Gubernatorial Candidacies, 1848-2006

Year
Democratic Victor
MoV
Term
2006
Jim Doyle
7.4
4
2002
Jim Doyle
3.7
4
1982
Anthony Earl
14.9
4
1974
Patrick J. Lucey
11.1
4
1970
Patrick J. Lucey
9.3
4
1962
John W. Reynolds
1.0
2
1960
Gaylord Nelson
3.2
2
1958
Gaylord Nelson
7.3
2
1932
Albert G. Schmedeman
10.6
2
1892
George Wilbur Peck
2.0
2
1890
George Wilbur Peck
9.2
2
1873
William R. Taylor
10.4
2
1855
William A. Barstow
0.2
2
1853
William A. Barstow
15.3
2
1849
Nelson Dewy
16.8
2
1848
Nelson Dewy
14.8
1

Republicans have won their 51 gubernatorial elections by an average margin of victory of 13.7 points. Many Republican governors have won two terms and eight have won three or more:

· Lucius Fairchild (1865, 1867, 1869)
· Jeremiah McLain Rusk (1881, 1884, 1886)
· Robert M. La Follette (1900, 1902, 1904)
· Emanuel Lorenz Philipp (1914, 1916, 1918)
· John James Blaine (1920, 1922, 1924)
· Walter S. Goodland (1944, 1946, 1948)
· Warren P. Knowles (1964, 1966, 1968)
· Tommy G. Thompson (1986, 1990, 1994, 1998)

Overall, elections for the office of Wisconsin's chief executive have been fairly competitive, with nearly half of its contests being decided by less than 10 points (35 of 71 races).

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1 Comment


  • Has Governor Pawlenty ever reached the mythical 50% of the popular vote in MN?
    It would appear that due to the Independent Party's effect of diluting the vote as we saw in the last election for Governor, that it would take a strong candidate to reach the 50% benchmark

  • Leave a comment


    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.

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