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Republicans Positioned to Win Nine Midwestern U.S. Senate Seats for First Time Since 1920

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GOP on track to sweep all nine Class III Midwest Senate seats in the 12-state region for the first time in 90 years; the last GOP Midwestern sweep of any kind was in 1946 with its eight Class I seats

Political analysts have almost run out of nautical metaphors to describe the sea change that is about to come in this year's November elections. The momentum behind the Republicans sails have brought about predictions of a big GOP 'wave' or 'tsunami.'

Indeed, the winds at the back of the GOP in 2010 may be historic.

On the state side, Smart Politics projected in early July the Republican Party is on pace to win its most governorships in an election cycle in ninety years.

On the federal side, a new analysis now shows Republicans are flirting with history again - this time in the U.S. Senate.

A Smart Politics analysis of over 360 Midwestern U.S. Senate general election contests conducted since 1914 finds Republicans are poised to sweep the Midwest this November for the first time since 1946, and win all nine of the region's Class III Senate seats for the first time since 1920.

The 12-state Midwest region (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin) has elections for its 24 U.S. Senate seats staggered into the following classes held two years apart:

Class I (8 seats): Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska North Dakota, Ohio, Wisconsin

Class II (7 seats): Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, South Dakota

Class III (9 seats): Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin

In 2010, the Midwest's nine Class III seats will be on the ballot, with Republicans in a good position to run the table:

· Republicans are assured of a victory with 1-term incumbent John Thune in South Dakota, where Democrats failed to field a candidate for the first time in state history.

· To the Mount Rushmore State's south, five-term GOP incumbent Chuck Grassley of Iowa has enjoyed double-digit leads in all public polling that has been conducted since the summer.

· In four open-seat races, Republicans in Indiana (former Senator Dan Coats), Kansas (Congressman Jerry Moran), North Dakota (Governor John Hoeven), and Ohio (former Congressman Rob Portman) also all currently enjoy large double-digit leads across the polling universe.

· In Missouri, Republican Congressman Roy Blunt has polled ahead of Robin Carnahan in each of the nearly 20 non-partisan polls that have been conducted in 2010, including leads of 8 and 11 points in the latest October Rasmussen and CNN polls respectively.

· In Wisconsin, upstart GOPer Ron Johnson has outpolled three-term Democratic incumbent Russ Feingold in every poll conducted since mid-July, with Feingold failing to poll within five points of Johnson since the beginning of September.

That leaves Illinois, which is perhaps the Democrat's best shot of winning a seat in the region this November. Republican Congressman Mark Kirk is currently in a dead heat with Democrat Alexi Giannoulias, with neither candidate notching an advantage of more than four points over the last dozen surveys dating back to mid-August.

In sum, the GOP is assured of six Midwestern seats this November, heavily favored in Missouri, leading in Wisconsin, with Illinois still in play for the ninth seat.

If these nine Republicans are able to hold on and win each of these races, it will be the first time the GOP has swept the Midwest in 64 years, when its eight Class I seats all went Republican in 1946.

During that cycle, Republicans netted 13 U.S. Senate seats nationwide.

It would also mark the first time in 90 years since Republicans swept all nine Class III Midwestern seats (1920).

Putting the 2010 GOP wave further into perspective, Republicans have not won even seven Senate seats in the Midwest in any of the last 26 election cycles dating back to 1958, with high water marks of six coming during the GOP waves of 1966 and 1980.

Even during the Republican Revolution of 1994, when the GOP picked up eight seats nationwide, Republicans only carried five of eight Midwestern states - Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, and Ohio (losing North Dakota, Nebraska and Wisconsin).

Overall, since popular vote U.S. Senate elections were introduced nationwide in 1914, Republicans have swept the Midwest region during five election cycles: 1918 (Class II), 1920 (Class III), 1924 (Class II), 1942 (Class II), and 1946 (Class I).

The Democratic Party, meanwhile, has never swept through the Midwest in Senate races during these 48 cycles across nearly 100 years of popular vote elections.

Midwestern U.S. Senate Seats won by Party, 1912-2008

Year
Class
Dem
GOP
Third
2008
II
IA, IL, MI, MN, SD
KS, NE
 
2006
I
MI, MN, MO, ND, NE, OH, WI
IN
 
2004
III
IL, IN, ND, WI
IA, KS, MO, OH, SD
 
2002
II
IA, IL, MI, SD
KS, MN, NE
 
2000
I
MI, MN, MO, ND, NE, WI
IN, OH
 
1998
III
IN, ND, SD, WI
IA, IL, KS, MO, OH
 
1996
II
IA, IL, MI, MN, SD
KS, NE
 
1994
I
ND, NE, WI
IN, MI, MN, MO, OH
 
1992
III
IL, ND, OH, SD, WI
IA, IN, KS, MO
 
1990
II
IA, IL, MI, MN, NE
KS, SD
 
1988
I
MI, ND, NE, OH, WI
IN, MN, MO
 
1986
III
IL, ND, OH, SD
IA, IN, KS, MO, WI
 
1984
II
IA, IL, MI, NE
KS, MN, SD
 
1982
I
MI, ND, NE, OH, WI
IN, MN, MO
 
1980
III
IL, MO, OH
IA, IN, KS, ND, SD, WI
 
1978
II
MI, NE
IA, IL, KS, MN, SD
 
1976
I
MI, MN, ND, NE, OH, WI
IN, MO
 
1974
III
IA, IL, IN, MO, OH, SD, WI
KS, ND
 
1972
II
IA, MN, SD
IL, KS, MI, NE
 
1970
I
IN, MI, MN, MO, ND, WI
NE, OH
 
1968
III
IA, IN, MO, SD, WI
IL, KS, ND, OH
 
1966
II
MN
IA, IL, KS, MI, NE, SD
 
1964
I
IN, MI, MN, MO, ND, OH, WI
NE
 
1962
III
IN, MO, OH, SD, WI
IA, IL, KS, ND
 
1960
II
IL, MI, MN
IA, KS, NE, SD
 
1958
I
IN, MI, MN, MO, OH, WI
ND, NE
 
1956
III
MO, OH
IA, IL, IN, KS, ND, SD, WI
 
1954
II
IL, MI, MN
IA, KS, NE, SD
 
1952
I
MO
IN, MI, MN, ND, NE, OH, WI
 
1950
III
MO
IA, IL, IN, KS, ND, OH, SD, WI
 
1948
II
IA, IL, MN
KS, MI, NE, SD
 
1946
I
 
IN, MI, MN, MO, ND, NE, OH, WI
 
1944
III
IL, ND
IA, IN, KS, MO, OH, SD, WI
 
1942
II
 
IA, IL, KS, MI, MN, NE, SD
 
1940
I
MO
IN, MI, MN, ND, NE, OH
WI
1938
III
IA, IL, IN, MO
KS, ND, OH, SD, WI
 
1936
II
IA, IL, MI, SD
KS
MN, NE
1934
I
IN, MO, NE, OH
MI, ND
MN, WI
1932
III
IA, IL, IN, KS, MO, OH, WI
ND, SD
 
1930
II
IL, SD
IA, KS, MI, MN, NE
 
1928
I
IN, MI, MO, ND, NE, OH, WI
MN
1926
III
MO
IA, IL, IN, KS, ND, OH, SD, WI
 
1924
II
 
IA, IL, KS, MI, MN, NE, SD
 
1922
I
IN, MI, MO
ND, NE, OH, WI
MN
1920
III
 
IA, IL, IN, KS, MO, ND, OH, SD, WI
 
1918
II
 
IA, IL, KS, MI, MN, NE, SD
 
1916
I
MO, NE, OH
IN, MI, MN, ND, WI
 
1914
III
IN, MO, SD, WI
IA, IL, KS, ND, OH
 
1912*
II
KS
MN
 
* Kansas and Minnesota began popular vote U.S. Senate elections in 1912. Excludes special elections. Data compiled by Smart Politics.

In total, Republicans have won 213 of 386 general election Senate seats in the region, or 55.2 percent. Democrats have won 166 seats (43.0 percent) and third party candidates have won 7 (1.8 percent).

Republicans have also won 28 special elections, compared to 10 for the Democrats and two for third parties.

The GOP has had the greatest success in the Midwest in Kansas, winning all but two of its 33 general election Senate races. Republicans have also won 20 of 32 races in Iowa and Nebraska and 19 contests in Indiana, North Dakota, and South Dakota during this 90+-year span.

Democrats have had the most success in Missouri (winning 20 contests), followed by Illinois (18), Michigan (18), and Wisconsin (17).

General Election Midwestern U.S. Senate Victories by Party and State, 1912-2008

State
Democrat
Republican
Third
Total
Illinois
18
14
0
32
Indiana
13
19
0
32
Iowa
12
20
0
32
Kansas*
2
31
0
33
Michigan
18
14
0
32
Minnesota*
14
15
4
33
Missouri
20
12
0
32
Nebraska
11
20
1
32
North Dakota
13
19
0
32
Ohio
15
17
0
32
South Dakota
13
19
0
32
Wisconsin
17
13
2
32
Total
166
213
7
386
Percent
43.0
55.2
1.8
 
* Minnesota and Kansas both began popular vote U.S. Senate elections in 1912. Excludes special elections. Data compiled by Smart Politics.

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