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How Republican is Minnesota Senate District 26?

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Republicans in the district have outperformed against the GOP statewide average in 21 of 23 statewide and district races since 2002

The upcoming special election to be held in Minnesota's 26th Senate District next Tuesday to fill the seat of 6-term GOPer Dick Day should ordinarily be heavily favored for the Republican nominee - all the more so considering the notable national shift that has occurred towards the Republican Party during the past year.

But in the first part of Smart Politics' analysis of this special election contest, the independent streak of the 26th district was examined, outlining why the candidacy of Independence Party nominee Roy Srp should be taken seriously by Republican Mike Parry and DFLer Jason Engbrecht.

In today's second part of the series, Smart Politics studies the Republican leanings of the district over the past decade, and finds GOPers in the 26th to have performed better vis-à-vis the Party's statewide margin against the DFL in 21 of 23 statewide and district contests since 2002 - including 12 by double-digits.

First, Smart Politics compared the GOP-DFL differential in the 26th SD to the statewide margin in elections for president (2004, 2008), U.S. Senate (2002, 2006, 2008), and the Constitutional offices of Governor, Secretary of State, Attorney General, and Auditor (2002, 2006).

Republican candidates performed stronger in the 26th against the DFL compared to their statewide margin of victory or loss in 12 of these 13 statewide contests.

· Republican candidates for president outperformed their Democratic counterparts in the 26th by 11.7 points in 2004 and 13.0 points in 2008 versus their statewide margin. Both George W. Bush (+8.2 points) and John McCain (+3.2 points) also carried the 26th in their respective elections.

· The performance of GOP U.S. Senate candidates against their DFL rivals in the 26th was closer to the statewide average, but still stronger in the 26th by margins of +3.8 points in 2002, +5.4 points in 2006, and +6.8 points in 2008. Norm Coleman also won the 26th by a 6.8-point margin in 2008.

· In the race for Governor, Tim Pawlenty outmatched his DFL opponents in the 26th over his statewide margin against them by +11.4 points in 2002 and +11.8 points in 2006. Pawlenty actually lost the 26th to Independent Party candidate Tim Penny by 1.7 points in 2002 but won the district outright in 2006 by 12.8 points.

· While DFL Attorney General nominees Mike Hatch and Lori Swanson each carried the 26th in 2002 and 2006, the Republican candidates' margin of loss was 2.0 points smaller in the district than their statewide margin in 2002 and 9.6 points smaller in 2006.

· Republican candidates for State Auditor fared better in the 26th than their statewide margin against their respective DFL counterparts by 2.7 points in 2002 and by 6.3 points in 2006.

· Former Republican Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer won the 26th by 2.0 points in 2002 and 4.2 points in 2006. Kiffmeyer's 2002 performance in the 26th was the only instance since redistricting in a statewide election in which the GOP margin of victory or loss was better for the Republicans statewide than in the 26th (though by just 1.1 points). However, in 2006, Kiffmeyer performed 9.1 points better in the 26th against DFLer Mark Ritchie than her statewide margin.

Smart Politics also calculated the GOP-DFL differentials for district-level races for US Representative (2002, 2004, 2006, 2008), State Senator (2002, 2006), and State Representative (2002, 2004, 2006, 2008) against the statewide averages across all candidates for such offices. (Note: nearly two-thirds of the 26th SD votes in the 1st CD with the remainder in the 2nd CD).

Republican candidates performed stronger in the 26th against the DFL compared to their statewide margin of victory or loss in 9 of these 10 district races.

· The margin of victory (or loss) for Republican U.S. House candidates was 27.2 points stronger in the 26th than statewide in 2002, 31.1 points stronger in 2004, 18.5 points stronger in 2006, and 2.4 points stronger in 2008. Overall, votes for Republican U.S. House candidates outpaced DFLers in the 26th in 2002 (+24.1 points), 2004 (+25.3 points), and 2006 (+8.0 points), but not in 2008 (-17.0 points, owing in part to Tim Walz's incumbency advantage).

· Dick Day won his 5th and 6th terms to his 26th SD seat by 23.7 points in 2002 and 9.1 points in 2006. Those performances were 27.3 and 21.1 points better than GOP State Senate candidates did cumulatively statewide against their DFL foes.

· In the district's two state house races, the cumulative votes cast for GOP candidates vis-à-vis the DFLers was 21.0 points higher than the statewide average in 2002, 8.3 points higher in 2004, 15.7 points higher in 2006, but 3.6 points lower in 2008. The DFL won both seats in 2008, picking up HD 26A.

In short, the GOP has enjoyed a considerable advantage across all offices throughout the decade in the 26th SD.

However, there was some notable slippage for the Republicans in state and federal legislative races in 2008.

This was to be expected in absolute terms - with the DFL getting more raw votes than the GOP - considering 2008 was another Democratic tsunami election year.

However, it also happened in relative terms, when comparing the GOP 26th SD performance against the GOP statewide margins of victory or loss for those offices.

GOP - DFL Differential by Office in Minnesota Senate District 26 vs. Statewide Margin

Office
2002
2004
2006
2008
President
 
+11.7
 
+13.0
US Senate
+3.8
 
+5.4
+6.8
Governor
+11.4
 
+11.8
 
Secretary of State
-1.1
 
+9.1
 
Attorney General
+2.0
 
+9.6
 
Auditor
+2.7
 
+6.3
 
US Representative*
+27.2
+31.3
+18.5
+2.4
State Senator
+27.3
 
+21.1
 
State Representative**
+21.0
+8.3
+15.7
-3.6
Data compiled by Smart Politics. * Combines votes in 26th SD for 1st CD and 2nd CD races.** Combines votes in 26th SD for HD 26A and HD 26B. Differential in legislative races determined by using the statewide averages across all candidates for such offices.

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Previous post: Will Roy Srp Help to Upend Mike Parry? The Independent Streak of MN Senate District 26
Next post: Minnesota's Unemployment Rate Stays Flat in December

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