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Is Minnesota the Most Democratic-Friendly State in the Midwest?

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Smart Politics recently examined Governor Tim Pawlenty's approval rating and highlighted its remarkable strength and stability in the face of the current economic crisis. But Pawlenty's popularity is also noteworthy when viewed in the greater partisan environment of the Gopher State.

A Smart Politics analysis of state and federal officeholders across the 12-state Midwest region finds Minnesota is the most Democratic-friendly, despite failing to elect a Democrat to lead its state in nearly 25 years. No Midwestern state has elected a higher percentage of Democrats to state and federal office than has Minnesota, with two-thirds of such offices currently occupied by DFLers.

The U.S. Census Bureau classifies the country into four different regions, with 12 states comprising the Midwest: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.

Studying the most recent electoral results in these 12 states, Minnesota has the highest percentage of Democrats in its state legislature, is tied for the second highest percentage of Democrats in its delegation to the U.S. House, and has elected the third largest percentage of Democrats in statewide elections, pending the final outcome of the 2008 U.S. Senate race.

Minnesota is the only Midwestern state to rank in the top 10 most Democratic legislatures in the country. With DFLers comprising 66.2 percent of all legislators in the State Senate and House, Minnesota ranks as the most Democratic in the region and 9th most Democratic in the nation. Only two other states in the Midwest, Illinois (#17, 60.5 percent) and Iowa (#22, 58.7 percent), rank among the Top 25 most Democratic legislatures in the country.

Seats Won in Midwestern District Elections: State Legislatures

Rank
State
DEM
GOP
Other
% DEM
1
Minnesota
133
68
0
66.2
2
Illinois
107
70
0
60.5
3
Iowa
88
62
0
58.7
4
Michigan
84
64
0
56.8
5
Wisconsin
70
61
1
53.0
6
Ohio
65
67
0
49.2
7
Indiana
69
81
0
46.0
8
Missouri
85
112
0
43.1
9
North Dakota
57
84
0
40.4
10
South Dakota
38
66
1
36.2
11
Nebraska*
17
32
0
34.7
12
Kansas
57
108
0
34.5
Note: Nebraska has a unicameral, non-partisan legislature. Legislators are identified as Republicans or Democrats for informational purposes only.

In elections to the U.S. House of Representatives, Minnesota is tied with Wisconsin for the 2nd largest percentage of Democrats serving statewide in the region (5 of 8 Representatives, 62.5 percent) - just seven-tenths of a percent behind Illinois (12 of 19, 63.2 percent).

The GOP has not held a majority of the U.S. House delegation in the Gopher State since the 1980 election. In the 2008 elections, Republican U.S. House candidates received their lowest vote percentage statewide since 1934.

Seats Won in Midwestern District Elections: U.S. House

Rank
State
DEM
GOP
% DEM
1
Illinois
12
7
63.2
2
Minnesota
5
3
62.5
2
Wisconsin
5
3
62.5
4
Iowa
3
2
60.0
5
Indiana
5
4
55.6
5
Ohio
10
8
55.6
7
Michigan
8
7
53.3
8
Missouri
4
5
44.4
9
Kansas
1
3
25.0
10
Nebraska
0
3
0.0
Note: At-large U.S. House elections for North and South Dakota compiled in statewide election data below.

Minnesota also ranks near the top of the bluest states in the Midwest for statewide contests (elections for President, U.S. Senator, Governor, and all other Constitutional offices). Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty is the only GOPer to have won statewide elected office in Minnesota since 2006, with DFL candidates winning 5 of 6 contests (83.3 percent): President, U.S. Senate (2006), Attorney General, Auditor, and Secretary of State.

Minnesota trails only Illinois (8 of 8 contests) and Wisconsin (6 of 7) as the most Democratic-tilted states by this measure. However, if DFLer Al Franken prevails in the 2008 U.S. Senate election, Minnesota will tie Wisconsin for the 2nd largest percentage of Democrat candidates elected statewide.

Offices Won in Midwestern Statewide Elections

Rank
State
DEM
GOP
% DEM
1
Illinois
8
0
100.0
2
Wisconsin*
6
1
85.7
3
Minnesota**
5
1
83.3
4
Ohio
6
2
75.0
5
Missouri
6
3
66.7
5
Iowa
6
3
66.7
5
Michigan
4
2
66.7
8
North Dakota*
4
11
26.7
9
Kansas
2
6
25.0
10
Indiana
2
7
22.2
11
South Dakota
2
10
16.7
12
Nebraska
1
7
12.5
Note: Includes winners of the most recent elections for Constitutional officers, U.S. Senate (x 2), and the presidency. For North and South Dakota it also includes at-large U.S. House elections. * North Dakota's and Wisconsin's Superintendent of Public Instruction are nonpartisan offices. ** Does not include the winner of the 2008 Minneosta U.S. Senate election contest.

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2 Comments


  • I have to ask why are the democrats not protecting my Constitutional Rights? This is not funny and I am not laughing. The argument between the sexes is a joke and so is the 14 Amendment to the Constitution. If you want to make or use that argument you must let the door swing both ways. Yet, the democrats fail miserably in this area. Uphold the Constitution and stop giving extra rights to women. I know that you do not want to admit or agree that the men in this state continue to be treated differently. I want equality I want to have all of the bennies that the women in this country have. So, once again I have to leave you with one thought open the same doors to me that you would a woman.You take an oath to uphold the Constitution yet you do not do it. The year is 2013 not 1930.

  • There are two things wrong with what the previous commenter felt he had to say.

    1) He used the word "bennies" instead of benefits.

    2) He attempted to say women have the upper hand over men (which is obviously not true) and he concluded his statements by saying "The year is 2013 not 1930." I think it's pretty obvious who is acting like it's 1930. Let's just say anyone who says "Uphold the constitution and stop giving extra rights to women" is nothing better than the men in the 1930's who fought against women and their rights.

    So, Randy Walkins. I have one thing to say: The year is 2013 not 1930. Women are getting closer to having equal rights as you. Get over it.

  • Leave a comment


    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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