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Does Marty Seifert Represent a 'Swing District?'

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GOPer Marty Seifert (21A-Marshall) announced yesterday that he would be stepping down as Minority Leader of the House of Representatives on June 24th, explaining he did not think it was appropriate to represent his caucus while contemplating a new position - that of governor of the Gopher State.

While stating he was still two steps removed from officially "running" - Seifert says he is now in the "consideration" phase, which, if all goes well, will then move to the "exploratory" phase - the outgoing Minority Leader did make an initial pitch as to why he thought he would be a strong candidate for the GOP.

Seifert, in thanking his constituents for reelecting him by wide margins, referred to his seat as being located in a "swing district" - thus suggesting the Representative would be able to translate his political victories at home to the state at large:

"Representing a somewhat swing district that was carried by Amy Klobuchar, Collin Peterson, Bill Clinton, David Minge, Lori Swanson, and others, it is not something that I ever, ever want to take for granted."

Later, when explaining he has been an underdog his whole political career, Seifert again referenced Democratic victories in 21A:

"I've been an underdog my whole life. When I ran for my House seat I was 24 years old. People said 'you have no chance at winning' - Clinton carried my district as did David Minge that year."

But just how much of a swing district is 21A?

The Clinton and Minge victories, of course, came before redistricting in 2002. And while it is true that several DFLers have carried 21A, these have largely been in the context of blow-out elections.

For example, while Amy Klobuchar did win the district in 2006 (and nearly every other house district in the state) she did so by just 2.3 points; Senator Klobuchar carried the state by 20.2 points overall, giving HD 21A a +17.8 Republican tilt in that race. Rep. Collin Peterson, meanwhile, has won his last four contests by an average of 37.1 points across his congressional district.

Additionally, although Seifert cited Lori Swanson in the list of DFLers who have carried 21A, the Attorney General actually lost the district by 3.0 points to Republican Jeff Johnson in 2006. Mike Hatch, however, did carry the district in his 2002 Attorney General reelection bid, although by 10.0 points less than his 13.8-point statewide victory.

Overall, since the introduction of the new legislative and congressional district maps in 2002, HD 21A has had a Republican tilt in all 13 statewide elections, as well as in each of the four U.S. House contests, averaging a +14.2 advantage for the GOP.

In short, Seifert currently represents one of the safest GOP districts in the state.

Republican Tilt to House District 21A, 2000-2008

Office
2000
2002
2004
2006
2008
President
+15.9
+19.8
+14.8
US Senate
+9.0
+5.6
+17.8
+13.4
US House*
-1.4
+24.8
+19.8
+14.1
+6.2
Governor
+10.6
+16.8
Attorney General
+10.0
+15.5
Secretary of State
+9.9
+20.1
Auditor
+4.1
+17.5
* In 2000, HD 21A was located in the 2nd CD. From 2002-2008 it has been located in the 7th CD. Table compiles the difference in margin of victory (or loss) for the Republican candidate for each office statewide (or, in the case of the U.S. House, districtwide) versus the margin of victory or loss for that Republican candidate in HD 21A. Table compiled by Smart Politics.

Still, Seifert has been impressive in his reelection campaigns this decade - winning by 39.0 points in 2000, 37.5 points in 2002, 21.3 points in 2004, 21.5 points in 2006, and 34.3 points in 2008.

Moreover, a Smart Politics analysis of the past five election cycles finds the outgoing Minority Leader has consistently outperformed all of his fellow Republican candidates up the ballot in his district.

In the 15 statewide contests that have been held since 2000, Seifert's margin of victory has averaged 22.0 points greater than the margin of victory (or loss) of the GOP candidates up the ballot in HD 21A. If one includes the five U.S. House contests to that grouping, Seifert has outperformed these high profile GOP candidates by a staggering 28.5-point margin.

Marty Seifert Margin of Victory vs. GOP Candidate Margin of Victory (or Loss) Up the Ballot in HD 21A, 2000-2008

Office
2000
2002
2004
2006
2008
President
+25.5
+5.0
+29.8
US Senate
+35.5
+29.6
+23.8
+20.9
US House
+40.4
+43.4
+33.8
+48.2
+72.6
Governor
+19.0
+3.7
Attorney General
+41.3
+18.5
Secretary of State
+24.5
+6.2
Auditor
+32.6
+14.8
Note: Table compiled by Smart Politics.

Overall, Seifert has several attributes that might work to his advantage should he choose to run for Governor - his demeanor, his relationship with the media, his ability to turn a clever or colorful phrase, and his well-known "brutal honesty" (as he calls it) - even when that means criticizing the Republican Party on occasion when it goes awry (as profiled in a recent Smart Politics posting).

But, what cannot be said, under the currently-drawn district maps, is that Seifert represents even a "somewhat swing district."

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1 Comment


  • It is now time that Minnesota elects a Governor who understands all aspects of Government both urban and rural and that man is Marty Seifert not only is he brutally honest but he has stood with Long-Term Care issues when the sailing got tough. Thank-You to our next Governor Rep. Marty Seifert all of Minnesota needs to stand by this honest man and support his run he is truly a breath of fresh air .

  • Leave a comment


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