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Smart Politics Projections: Minnesota State Senate

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Impressive GOP gains to fall short of Senate takeover

Current partisan split
DFL: 46
Republican: 21

Incumbents
DFL incumbents: 40
Open DFL seats: 6
Republican incumbents: 16
Open Republican seats: 5

Unchallenged seats
No DFL on the ballot: 2
No Republican on the ballot: 0

Analysis
Presuming Minnesota experiences a GOP tidal wave that is even half as powerful as the one about to hit the rest of the country on Tuesday, there are certainly many DFL State Senate seats ripe for the picking. The DFL won 11 Senate seats by less than 10 points in 2006, plus the special election in SD 16 in 2008. Of those 12 seats, eight were pick-ups.

One thing to keep in mind, however, is GOP gains in the Senate have always been incremental, and stunted as compared to those in the House, even in cycles with notable Republican momentum. So, while Republican pick-ups of as many as 15 seats look quite feasible on paper, history suggests the GOP will fall short of that mark.

And while Republicans will still yet to have won control of the upper chamber - a feat that has eluded them since partisan ballot elections returned in 1974 - the Party will inflict enough losses to derail a DFL veto-proof majority for not simply 2011, but also even if there is a Democratic rebound in 2012 after new district lines have been drawn.

Projection
Partisan shift: GOP +8
Partisan control: DFL hold

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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 Stassen 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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