Go to HHH home page.
Smart Politics
 


Can the GOP Sweep All Four Upper Midwestern Gubernatorial Contests in November?

Bookmark and Share

Republicans have swept nearly half the gubernatorial election cycles in the region over the past 100 years, including 1990 and 1994

This November, the states of Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin will each hold gubernatorial elections - the last three of which will be open-seat races.

While Democrats expect to be competitive in Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, it has been 48 years since the Democratic Party has won all three of these states in the same election cycle (1962). And it has been 52 years since the Democrats won all four states in the region (1958).

However, it has only been 16 years since Republicans ran a clean sweep through the gubernatorial elections in the Upper Midwest - winning all four states in 1994.

The Republican Party thus has its eyes set on another Upper Midwestern sweep in 2010 - even though the GOP must defend two open seats (South Dakota and Minnesota).

Republicans have historically dominated gubernatorial races in this four state region. Over the past 100 years, the GOP has won 72.0 percent of governorships, or 121 of 168 contests.

Democrats (and the DFL) have won just 39 races in the region (23.2 percent) with third parties winning the remaining 8 contests (4.8 percent).

In fact, since 1906, when Iowa joined Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin in holding its gubernatorial elections in even-numbered years, the GOP has swept through all four states in 17 of 40 election cycles.

Republicans have won each of the four states seven times since the end of WWII: in 1946, 1948, 1950, 1952, 1978, 1990, and 1994. Since 1906 the GOP also won all four states in 1910, 1912, 1916, 1918, 1920, 1922, 1924, 1938, 1940, and 1944.

Democrats were shut out from the winner's circle in each of these 17 election cycles plus an 18th - in 1942 - when the Republicans won Iowa, Minnesota, and South Dakota and the Progressive Party candidate won the State of Wisconsin.

Democrats, meanwhile, have swept through the region just one time in the last century - in 1958.

(Republicans also failed to win a gubernatorial race in 1932 and 1934 when a mix of Democrats, Progressives, and Farmer-Laborites were elected in the region).

Here is a snapshot of the historical trends over the past 100 years:

South Dakota

In South Dakota, two-term GOP Governor Tim Rounds in term-limited. Even so, the Mount Rushmore State is always the safest bet for a GOP victory in the region. Republicans have won eight gubernatorial elections in a row dating back to 1978, as well as 35 of the last 43 races over the past century (81.4 percent).

The Democratic gubernatorial drought in South Dakota is the longest of any state in the country.

Iowa

The one incumbent on the ballot in 2010 will be Iowa's Democratic Governor Chet Culver. Culver, however, saw his approval numbers dip to as low as the mid-30s this past year (August 2009, SurveyUSA) and may face a formidable opponent in former 4-term Republican Governor Terry Branstad.

The 12-year hold the Democratic Party of Iowa will have had on the governor's mansion at the end of Culver's 1st term is actually the longest the Democrats have ever held the office in Hawkeye State history.

Democrats have never won four consecutive gubernatorial elections in Iowa as they are seeking to do in 2010, having won three in a row on two other occasions: 1932-1934-1936 and 1962-1964-1966.

Overall, the GOP has won 32 of 43 gubernatorial races in Iowa over the past 100 years (74.4 percent) with Democrats winning the remaining 11 (25.6 percent).

Wisconsin

In the Badger State, unpopular Democratic Governor Jim Doyle announced several months ago he would not be on the ballot in 2010, but his absence from the race has not seen quite the avalanche of candidates as seen in Minnesota after Governor Tim Pawlenty's announcement he would not seek a third term early last summer.

Had Doyle run and won, which would have been an extremely unlikely prospect, he would have been the first 3-term Democratic governor in Wisconsin's 160+ year history.

Republicans have won 30 of 42 gubernatorial contests in the Badger State over the past 100 years (71.4 percent), compared to just 9 for the Democrats (21.4 percent) and 3 for third parties (7.1 percent).

Minnesota

The Gopher State has presented Republicans with their stiffest gubernatorial competition in the region. And although most analysts label this open-seat race a 'toss up' the DFL does not have history on its side.

The GOP has won 24 of 40 contests over the past century (60.0 percent), with Democrats and the DFL winning 11 races (27.5 percent), and third parties winning 5 (12.5 percent).

At 23+ years, the DFL also currently has the third longest gubernatorial drought in the nation for the Democrats, behind only South Dakota and Utah.

Moreover, Democrats have had historical difficulties in winning gubernatorial elections in Minnesota with a Democrat in the White House - losing 22 of 25 such races since statehood.

Margin of Republican Victory (or Loss) in Upper Midwestern Gubernatorial Elections, 1906-2006

Year
Iowa
Minnesota
South Dakota
Wisconsin
2006
-9.6
1.0
25.6
-7.4
2002
-8.2
7.9
14.9
-3.7
1998
-5.8
-2.7
31.1
21.0
1994
15.2
29.2
14.9
36.3
1990
21.7
3.3
17.8
16.4
1986
3.9
-13.0
3.6
6.5
1982
6.3
-18.9
41.8
-14.9
1978
17.3
7.0
13.2
9.5
1974
17.1
-33.4
-7.2
-11.1
1972
18.1
 
-20.0
 
1970
4.4
-8.5
-9.6
-9.3
1968
8.2
 
15.4
6.1
1966
-11.1
5.7
15.4
7.4
1964
-36.7
 
3.4
1.2
1962
-5.2
0.0
12.2
-1.0
1960
4.2
1.5
1.4
-3.2
1958
-8.2
-14.5
-2.8
-7.3
1956
-2.4
-3.2
8.8
3.8
1954
3.1
-5.9
13.4
3.1
1952
4.1
11.3
40.4
25.2
1950
18.6
22.4
21.8
7.0
1948
12.0
8.0
22.2
10.0
1946
15.3
19.3
34.4
20.7
1944
12.4
23.8
31.0
12.2
1942
25.7
13.8
23.0
-13.2
1940
5.6
15.6
10.2
0.9
1938
7.0
25.7
8.0
19.4
1936
-0.3
-22.1
3.2
-17.0
1934
-8.2
-6.9
-17.9
-21.0
1932
-5.6
-18.3
-13.2
-10.6
1930
32.6
-23.0
6.8
36.8
1928
25.6
32.3
-5.6
15.5
1926
43.0
18.4
-7.1
49.7
1924
45.4
4.9
31.0
11.9
1922
41.0
2.1
16.3
65.8
1920
20.1
17.2
30.0
17.2
1918
3.7
14.7
27.1
13.0
1916
24.6
39.1
17.3
15.0
1914
6.1
-3.6
14.9
6.6
1912
0.3
9.4
2.8
3.0
1910
4.4
20.5
22.5
16.0
1908
12.8
-8.0
15.9
17.1
1906
4.8
-26.1
38.6
25.1
Data compiled by Smart Politics.

Follow Smart Politics on Twitter.

Previous post: Will Pawlenty Have a Minnesota Economic Recovery to Run on in 2012?
Next post: How Predictive is the Recent Spate of Minneapolis Homicides?

Leave a comment


Remains of the Data

Which States Have the Longest and Shortest Election Day Voting Hours?

Residents in some North Dakota towns have less than half as many hours to cast their ballots as those in New York State.

Political Crumbs

No 100-Year Curse for Roberts

Defeating his Tea Party primary challenger Milton Wolf with just 48.1 percent of the vote, Pat Roberts narrowly escaped becoming the first elected U.S. Senator from Kansas to lose a renomination bid in 100 years. The last - and so far only - elected U.S. Senator to lose a Kansas primary was one-term Republican Joseph Bristow in 1914. Bristow was defeated by former U.S. Senator Charles Curtis who went on to win three terms before becoming Herbert Hoover's running mate in 1928. Only one other U.S. Senator from the Sunflower State has lost a primary since the passage of the 17th Amendment: Sheila Frahm in 1996. Frahm was appointed to fill Bob Dole's seat earlier that year and finished 13.2 points behind Sam Brownback in the three-candidate primary field. Overall, incumbent senators from Kansas have won 29 times against two defeats in the direct vote era. (Curtis also lost a primary in 1912 to Walter Stubbs, one year before the nation moved to direct elections).


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).


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