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Brown Victory in Massachusetts Would End 3rd Longest GOP U.S. Senate Drought in Nation

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Only West Virginia and Hawaii have gone more years without electing a Republican to a U.S. Senate seat

With all the momentum seemingly with state Senator Scott Brown in his special election battle with Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, Republicans are on the edge of their seats Tuesday in hopes of winning their first U.S. Senate seat in Massachusetts since 1972.

The 38-year drought is currently the third longest for the GOP in the country, along with the state of New Jersey.

Massachusetts and New Jersey voters last elected Republicans Edward Brooke and Clifford Case respectively to the Senate back in 1972. (New Jersey Republican Senator Nicholas Brady was appointed in 1982).

But as Smart Politics documented Monday, a competitive showing, or even a victory for the Republican candidate in the heavily Democratic state of Massachusetts on Tuesday, would not be an anomaly in the annals of U.S. Senate special elections.

Special elections have been approximately 10 points more competitive than full-term seat contests since 1990, and 65 percent of U.S. Senate special elections since 1970 have resulted in a partisan flipping of voter preferences since the last time the seat in question was on the ballot (13 of 20 contests).

Moreover, despite its left-leaning tendencies, the Bay State has elected several Republicans to prominent statewide offices in recent years - notably Governors William Weld, A. Paul Cellucci, and Mitt Romney.

Additionally, state Senator Brown is considered by most analysts to be a good Republican fit "for the state." That is to say, Brown is viewed as being much more liberal than most high profile Republican candidates and officeholders nationwide.

The 38-year U.S. Senate election drought for the GOP in Massachusetts is only eclipsed by the states of West Virginia (54 years, 1956) and Hawaii (40 years, 1970). The Democratic hold on West Virginia might very well end once 92-year old Robert Byrd is no longer on the ballot - Byrd has served 51+ years in the Senate to date.

In the Upper Midwest, North Dakota is tied, along with Maryland, for the 5th longest GOP U.S. Senate election victory drought in the nation at 30 years - with Republicans favored to win the open seat being vacated by retiring Democrat Byron Dorgan this November.

Wisconsin has the 8th longest GOP drought in the country at 24 years. The last Republican elected by the Badger State to the U.S. Senate was Robert Kasten, Jr. in 1986. Kasten was defeated by Democrat Russ Feingold in 1992.

Minnesota is tied for the 19th longest Republican election victory drought in the U.S. at eight years (Norm Coleman, 2002).

Number of Years Since the Republican Party Last Won a U.S. Senate Election by State

Rank
State
Senator
Elected
Years
1
West Virginia
W. Chapman Revercomb
1956
54
2
Hawaii
Hiram Fong
1970
40
3
Massachusetts
Edward Brooke
1972
38
3
New Jersey
Clifford Case
1972
38
5
Maryland
Charles Mathias
1980
30
5
North Dakota
Mark Andrews
1980
30
7
Connecticut
Lowell Weicker
1982
28
8
Wisconsin
Robert Kasten, Jr.
1986
24
9
California
Pete Wilson
1988
22
10
New York
Al D'Amato
1992
18
11
Delaware
William Roth
1994
16
11
Michigan
Spencer Abraham
1994
16
11
Washington
Slade Gordon
1994
16
14
Arkansas
Tim Hutchinson
1996
14
15
Illinois
Peter Fitzgerald
1998
12
16
Montana
Conrad Burns
2000
10
16
Rhode Island
Lincoln Chafee
2000
10
16
Vermont
Jim Jeffords
2000
10
19
Colorado
Wayne Allard
2002
8
19
Minnesota
Norm Coleman
2002
8
19
New Mexico
Pete Domenici
2002
8
19
Oregon
Gordon Smith
2002
8
19
Virginia
John Warner
2002
8
24*
Alaska
Lisa Murkowski
2004
6
24*
Florida
Mel Martinez
2004
6
24*
Iowa
Chuck Grassley
2004
6
24*
Louisiana
David Vitter
2004
6
24*
Missouri
Kit Bond
2004
6
24*
New Hampshire
Judd Gregg
2004
6
24*
North Carolina
Richard Burr
2004
6
24*
Ohio
George Voinovich
2004
6
24*
Pennsylvania
Arlen Specter
2004
6
24*
South Dakota
John Thune
2004
6
34*
Arizona
Jon Kyl
2006
4
34*
Indiana
Richard Lugar
2006
4
34*
Nevada
John Ensign
2006
4
34*
Utah
Orrin Hatch
2006
4
38*
Alabama
Jeff Sessions
2008
2
38*
Georgia
Saxby Chambliss
2008
2
38*
Idaho
Jim Risch
2008
2
38*
Kansas
Pat Roberts
2008
2
38*
Kentucky
Mitch McConnell
2008
2
38*
Maine
Susan Collins
2008
2
38*
Mississippi
Thad Cochran
2008
2
38*
Nebraska
Mike Johanns
2008
2
38*
Oklahoma
James Inhofe
2008
2
38*
South Carolina
Lindsey Graham
2008
2
38*
Tennessee
Lamar Alexander
2008
2
38*
Texas
John Cornyn
2008
2
38*
Wyoming
Michael Enzi
2008
2
* Denotes state in which the Republican Party won its most recent gubernatorial election. Data compiled by Smart Politics.

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Previous post: Massachusetts U.S. Senate Race: Special Elections Frequently See Flip in Voter Preferences
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