Go to HHH home page.
Smart Politics
 


Minnesota 2nd Most Competitive State for U.S. Senate Elections Since 1990

Bookmark and Share

With the three-judge panel ruling on Monday that Al Franken received more legally cast votes than Norm Coleman, the Minnesota 2008 U.S. Senate race moved one step closer to a final resolution. Coleman has stated he will file an appeal to the Minnesota Supreme Court during the next 10 days, and there is no sign that Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty will sign an election certificate in the near future.

Whenever the final outcome of the 2008 election contest is resolved, the Gopher State will have concluded yet another very competitive U.S. Senate election.

In fact, only one other state has held more competitive U.S. Senate races than Minnesota over the last 10 election cycles dating back to 1990.

A Smart Politics analysis of 344 U.S. Senate contests since 1990 finds only the State of North Carolina has produced a narrower average margin of victory (6.0 points) than the Gopher State (6.4 points). Minnesota's Senate races have been 3.6 times more competitive than the national average (22.8 points) during this span.

Although only 100 of these 344 races (29.1 percent) have been decided by less than 10 points, 6 of the past 7 U.S. Senate contests in Minnesota have been decided by this competitive margin, or 85.6 percent. North Carolina is the only other state with as high a percentage of competitive races, with all seven of its U.S. Senate races since 1990 being decided by less than 10 points.

Minnesota is also the only Upper Midwestern state to rank among the Top 10 most competitive in the nation:

· South Dakota (#11) has produced four competitive races since 1990, with an average victory margin of 13.5 points.
· Wisconsin (#15) has held two tightly fought contests during this span, with an average margin of victory of 16.7 points.
· Iowa (#29) has also only had two competitive races since 1990, averaging a 24.7-point victory margin.
· North Dakota (#34) has not produced a competitive U.S. Senate race during this span, with Democrats Byron Dorgan and Kent Conrad sweeping through seven contests with an average victory margin of 27.5 points.

The only other state from the general Midwest region to rank in the Top 10 is Missouri (#4, 8.4 point average victory margin).

Of the 100 competitive races held nationwide since 1990, 51 have been won by the Democrats and 49 by the Republicans. However, since 2006, Democrats have won 11 of 16 races decided by less than 10 points (counting Franken's victory), as the Party has clawed its way closer to a filibuster-proof 60-seat caucus in the Senate.

Average Margin of Victory in U.S. Senate Elections, 1990-2008

State
'90
'92
'94
'96
'98
'00
'02
'04
'06
'08
Ave
NC
5.2
4.0
 
6.7
4.1
 
8.6
4.6
 
8.5
6.0
MN
2.6
 
5.0
9.0
 
5.5
2.2
 
20.2
0.0
6.4
NJ
3.0
 
3.3
10.1
 
3.0
9.9
 
9.0
14.1
7.5
MO
 
7.0
24.0
 
8.9
2.1
1.1
13.3
2.3
 
8.4
CO
14.0
9.1
 
5.0
27.5
 
4.9
4.8
 
10.3
10.8
WA
 
8.0
11.5
 
16.8
0.1
 
12.2
16.9
 
10.9
PA
 
2.8
2.5
 
26.6
6.9
 
10.6
17.4
 
11.1
KY
4.4
27.1
 
12.6
0.6
 
29.4
1.3
 
5.9
11.6
SC
31.7
3.1
 
9.4
7.0
 
10.2
9.6
 
15.3
12.3
NV
 
10.8
9.9
 
0.1
15.4
 
25.9
14.4
 
12.8
SD
7.3
32.4
 
2.6
25.7
 
0.1
1.2
 
25.0
13.5
OR
7.5
5.6
 
3.9
27.3
 
16.6
31.7
 
3.4
13.7
CA
 
4.9
1.9
 
10.1
19.3
 
19.9
24.4
 
13.8
MI
16.3
 
9.1
18.5
 
1.6
22.7
 
15.7
28.8
16.1
OH
 
8.7
14.2
 
12.9
24.0
 
27.7
12.4
 
16.7
WI
 
6.6
17.6
 
2.1
24.5
 
11.3
37.8
 
16.7
NH
33.8
2.8
 
3.0
39.6
 
4.4
32.5
 
6.3
17.5
GA
100
1.6
 
1.3
7.2
20.3
6.9
17.9
 
2.9
19.8
TX
22.8
 
22.5
10.8
 
32.7
12.0
 
25.7
12.0
19.8
LA
10.5
64.2
 
0.3
32.4
 
3.4
21.7
 
6.4
19.8
NY
 
1.3
13.7
 
10.5
12.3
 
46.9
36.0
 
20.1
FL
 
30.8
41.0
 
24.9
4.9
 
1.1
22.2
 
20.8
MT
38.8
 
24.7
4.9
 
3.3
31.0
 
0.9
45.8
21.3
TN
37.9
 
14.3
24.6
 
32.9
9.9
 
2.7
33.5
22.2
NE
18.0
 
9.8
14.5
 
2.2
68.1
 
27.8
17.5
22.6
DE
26.9
 
13.3
21.9
 
11.8
17.4
 
39.6
29.4
22.9
IL
30.1
10.2
 
15.4
2.9
 
22.3
42.9
 
39.3
23.3
AL
21.2
31.7
 
7.0
26.6
 
18.8
35.2
 
26.8
23.9
IA
9.1
42.4
 
5.1
37.9
 
10.4
42.3
 
25.4
24.7
OK
66.4
20.4
15.3
16.6
35.1
 
21.0
11.5
 
17.5
25.5
VA
62.8
 
2.7
5.1
 
4.6
72.8
 
0.4
31.3
25.7
ME
22.7
 
23.9
5.3
 
37.9
16.9
 
53.4
22.8
26.1
CT
 
20.7
36.0
 
32.8
29.0
 
34.2
10.0
 
27.1
ND
 
20.1
16.0
 
28.0
22.8
 
36.6
39.3
 
27.5
MD
 
42.0
18.2
 
41.0
26.4
 
31.1
10.0
 
28.1
NM
45.9
 
8.0
34.9
 
23.5
30.1
 
41.3
22.7
29.5
RI
23.7
 
29.1
28.4
 
15.7
56.8
 
7.0
46.8
29.6
AR
99.7
20.4
 
5.4
12.9
 
7.8
11.8
 
59.1
31.0
VT
 
10.8
9.8
 
49.8
40.1
 
46.1
33.0
 
31.6
IN
7.3
16.6
36.9
 
28.9
34.7
 
24.4
74.8
 
31.9
UT
 
15.7
40.5
 
31.0
34.1
 
40.3
31.3
 
32.2
MA
14.2
 
17.1
7.5
 
60.0
61.6
 
38.8
34.9
33.4
AK
34.0
14.6
 
64.2
54.8
 
67.7
3.0
 
1.2
34.2
ID
22.6
13.1
 
17.1
41.1
 
32.6
98.4
 
23.6
35.5
KS
47.2
31.7
 
27.6
33.7
 
73.4
41.7
 
23.6
36.2
AZ
 
24.2
14.2
 
41.6
71.5
 
56.1
9.8
 
36.2
WY
27.9
 
19.6
11.9
 
51.7
45.9
 
40.1
51.4
36.8
WV
36.7
 
38.0
53.3
 
57.6
26.2
 
30.7
27.4
38.6
HI
9.4
30.3
47.6
 
61.4
48.2
 
54.5
24.6
 
39.4
MS
100
 
37.6
43.7
 
34.3
69.2
 
28.7
22.9
43.3
Ave
30.3
17.8
19.2
15.2
24.8
24.0
26.2
23.7
24.2
22.8
22.8
Note: Six states held two U.S. Senate elections during the same year. Special elections were held in California and North Dakota in 1992, Tennessee in 1994, Kansas in 1996, and Mississippi and Wyoming in 2008. These election results are reflected in the total average victory margin in the far right column, as well as the yearly average victory margin row at the bottom of the table, but not in the respective state/yearly cells in which the contests took place.

Follow Smart Politics on Twitter.

Previous post: The Picture of Mental Health: Minnesota's Unusually Low Suicide Rate
Next post: Political Luminaries Rally in Support of Ranked Choice Voting at FairVote Minnesota Fundraiser

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