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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

No Free Passes: States With 2 Major Party Candidates in Every US House Race

Indiana has now placed candidates from both major parties on the ballot in a nation-best 189 consecutive U.S. House races, with New Hampshire, Minnesota, Idaho, and Montana also north of 100 in a row.

Political Crumbs

Gubernatorial Highs and Lows

Two sitting governors currently hold the record for the highest gubernatorial vote ever received in their respective states by a non-incumbent: Republican Matt Mead of Wyoming (65.7 percent in 2010) and outgoing GOPer Dave Heineman of Nebraska (73.4 percent in 2006). Republican Gary Herbert of Utah had not previously won a gubernatorial contest when he notched a state record 64.1 percent for his first victory in 2010, but was an incumbent at the time after ascending to the position in 2009 after the early departure of Jon Huntsman. Meanwhile, two sitting governors hold the record in their states for the lowest mark ever recorded by a winning gubernatorial candidate (incumbent or otherwise): independent-turned-Democrat Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island (36.1 percent in 2010) and Democrat Terry McAuliffe of Virginia (47.8 percent in 2013).


An Idaho Six Pack

Two-term Idaho Republican Governor Butch Otter only polled at 39 percent in a recent PPP survey of the state's 2014 race - just four points ahead of Democratic businessman A.J. Balukoff. Otter's low numbers reflect his own struggles as a candidate (witness his weak primary win against State Senator Russ Fulcher) combined with the opportunity for disgruntled Idahoans to cast their votes for one of four third party and independent candidates, who collectively received the support of 12 percent of likely voters: Libertarian John Bujak, the Constitution Party's Steve Pankey, and independents Jill Humble and Pro-Life (aka Marvin Richardson). The six candidate options in a gubernatorial race sets an all-time record in the Gem State across the 46 elections conducted since statehood. The previous high water mark of five candidates was reached in seven previous cycles: 1902, 1904, 1908, 1912, 1914, 1966, and 2010.


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