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

Kevin McCarthy Becomes Least Tenured Floor Leader in US House History

At less than four terms, McCarthy has served 423 fewer days in the chamber than any floor leader in U.S. House history and almost 10 years less than the average leader.

Political Crumbs

The Second Time Around

Former Republican Congressman Bob Beauprez became the seventh major party or second place gubernatorial candidate in Colorado to get a second chance at the office when he narrowly won his party's nomination last month. Two of the previous six candidates were successful. Democrat Alva Adams lost his first gubernatorial bid to Benjamin Eaton in 1884, but was victorious two years later against William Meyer. Democrat Charles Johnson placed third in 1894 behind Republican Albert McIntyre and Populist incumbent Governor David Waite but returned as the Fusion (Democrat/Populist) nominee in 1898 and defeated GOPer Henry Wolcott. Gubernatorial candidates who received a second chance but lost both general elections include Democrat Thomas Patterson (1888, 1914), Progressive Edward Costigan (1912, 1914), Republican Donald Brotzman (1954, 1956), and Republican David Strickland (1978, 1986).


How Are the Plurality Winners Doing?

Nearly 40 percent of plurality winners of U.S. Senate elections lose their seat in the next election cycle. Will that happen to any of the three such incumbents on the ballot in 2014? Recent polling suggests Democrats Al Franken of Minnesota, Mark Begich of Alaska, and Jeff Merkley of Oregon all currently have an advantage over their nominated/frontrunning GOP opponents, but each is flirting with plurality support once again. Franken led endorsed GOPer Mike McFadden 48 to 42 percent in a new SurveyUSA poll while the polling group showed Merkley with a 50 to 32 percent advantage over Monica Wehby. Begich led each of the three major GOP candidates in last month's PPP survey: 42 to 37 percent over Daniel Sullivan, 41 to 33 percent over Mead Treadwell, and 43 to 27 percent over Joe Miller.


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