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Smart Politics Projections: Iowa State House

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Republicans to take advantage of historically thin Democratic field to win back lower chamber

Current partisan split
Democrats: 56
Republicans: 44

Incumbents
Democratic incumbents: 46
Open Democratic seats: 10
Republican incumbents: 38
Open Republican seats: 6

Unchallenged seats
No Democrat on the ballot: 25
No Republican on the ballot: 8

Analysis
Smart Politics analyzed in early October how Democrats were bracing for a bloodbath in elections for the Iowa House of Representatives.

Democrats are at a disadvantage of maintaining control of the lower chamber on almost every dimension - even putting aside the Republican momentum that is brewing in the Hawkeye State.

Most glaringly, Democrats set a record in 2010 for the largest number of districts in which a major political party has failed to field a House candidate since the lower chamber became a 100-seat body 40 years ago (25).

Meanwhile, Republicans fielded candidates in 92 races - their best showing in 30 years.

Democrats are also having to defend 10 open seats, compared to just six for the Republicans.

All of this adds up to a big day for Republicans, with the real potential of double-digit gains in the House like they enjoyed during the Republican Revolution of 1994.

Projection
Partisan shift: GOP +10
Partisan control: GOP takes control

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Remains of the Data

Gender Equality in the US House: A State-by State Quarter-Century Report Card (1989-2014)

A study of 5,325 congressional elections finds the number of female U.S. Representatives has more than tripled over the last 25 years, but the rate at which women are elected to the chamber still varies greatly between the states.

Political Crumbs

Small Club in St. Paul

Mark Dayton is one of just three Minnesotans ever elected to three different statewide offices. Dayton, of course, had previously served as State Auditor (1991-1995) and U.S. Senator (2001-2007) before winning the governorship in 2010. At that time, he joined Republicans Edward Thye and J.A.A. Burnquist on this very short list. Burnquist was elected lieutenant governor in 1914 but then became governor after the death of Democrat Winfield Hammond in 1915. He then won the gubernatorial elections of 1916 and 1918 and eight terms as attorney general two decades later (1939-1955). Thye was similarly first elected lieutenant governor of the Gopher State and became governor after the resignation of fellow GOPer Harold Stasson in 1943. Thye won one additional full term as governor in 1944 and then two terms to the U.S. Senate (1947-1959). Twenty Minnesotans have been elected to two different statewide offices.


Respect Your Elders?

With retirement announcements this year by veteran U.S. Representatives such as 30-term Democrat John Dingell of Michigan, 20-term Democrat George Miller of California, and 18-term Republican Tom Petri of Wisconsin, it is no surprise that retirees from the 113th Congress are one of the most experienced cohorts in recent decades. Overall, these 24 exiting members of the House have served an average of 11.0 terms - the second longest tenure among retirees across the last 18 cycles since 1980. Only the U.S. Representatives retiring in 2006 had more experience, averaging 11.9 terms. (In that cycle, 10 of the 11 retiring members served at least 10 terms, with GOPer Bill Jenkins of Tennessee the lone exception at just five). Even without the aforementioned Dingell, the average length of service in the chamber of the remaining 23 retirees in 2014 is 10.2 terms - which would still be the third highest since 1980 behind the 2006 and 2012 (10.5 terms) cycles.


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