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Support for Minnesota GOP US House Candidates Rises 22 Percent in 2010

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Support increases across all eight districts for Republicans; cumulative vote for DFLers falls below 48 percent for just the 3rd time in six decades

Although more Minnesotans cast their congressional votes for DFLers than Republicans for the 15th consecutive election cycle, the Minnesota GOP made big gains in U.S. House contests statewide compared to their dismal 2008 run.

Republicans entered 2010 coming off their worst showing in congressional elections in 74 years - notching only 38.1 percent of the cumulative statewide vote for its eight candidates in 2008.

That was the worst performance turned in by either of the state's primary political parties since the DFL merger in 1944, and the lowest for the GOP since the Democratic landslide of 1934 when Republicans only won 32.5 percent.

However, buoyed in part by their first competitive showing in the state's 8th Congressional District for the first time since the mid-1940s, support for GOP congressional candidates statewide soared 22 percent this cycle - from 38.1 percent in 2008 to 46.4 percent in 2010.

While that number was still short of the 47.9 percent won by the eight DFL congressional candidates across the Gopher State, it was the 5th best showing by Republicans since 1972.

Support for the GOP increased across all eight congressional districts from 2008 to 2010, rising 34.0 percent in the 1st CD, 10.5 percent in the 2nd CD, 21.2 percent in the 3rd CD, 10.5 percent in the 4th CD, 9.5 percent in the 5th CD, 13.1 percent in the 6th CD, 35.7 percent in the 7th CD, and 49.7 percent in the 8th CD.

Increase in GOP Vote in Minnesota's U.S. House Elections by District, 2008 to 2010

District
2008
2010
% Change
1
32.9
44.1
+34.0
2
57.3
63.3
+10.5
3
48.5
58.8
+21.2
4
31.3
34.6
+10.5
5
22.0
24.1
+9.5
6
46.4
52.5
+13.1
7
27.7
37.6
+35.7
8
32.2
48.2
+49.7
Table compiled by Smart Politics.

The high water marks for the Republican Party over the past 40 years came in 1980 (51.8 percent), 1994 (48.4 percent), 2002 (46.8 percent), and 1978 (46.6 percent).

1980 was the last time more Gopher State voters cast their ballots for Republican congressional candidates than DFLers.

Republicans have historically struggled to win a majority of the vote in U.S. House elections statewide, doing so only in four elections since 1954 (in 1962, 1966, 1968, and 1980), compared to 23 times for the DFL across these 29 election cycles.

Statewide support for the DFL in 2010, meanwhile, dropped below the 50 percent mark for just the sixth time since 1954 - sinking to its third worst showing during this 56-year span.

Only during the elections of 1980 (47.6 percent) and 1968 (47.7 percent) did Minnesotans show less support for the DFL's congressional candidates than they did in 2010 (47.9 percent).

Since the DFL merger in 1944, the 2010 election marks the seventh lowest percentage of the vote received for its Party's candidates.

Cumulative votes for third party and independent candidates, meanwhile, reached their third highest level since the 1944 DFL merger. Over 117,000 votes were cast for such candidates on November 2nd, or 5.6 percent of the vote, behind only 1992 (7.3 percent) and 2000 (5.8 percent) over the last 66 years.

Minnesota U.S. House Votes Received By Party, 1944-2010

Year
DFL
GOP
Other
2010
47.9
46.4
5.6
2008
57.5
38.1
4.3
2006
52.9
42.4
4.7
2004
51.4
45.4
3.2
2002
49.9
46.8
3.4
2000
52.2
42.0
5.8
1998
53.5
42.3
4.2
1996
55.1
41.8
3.1
1994
50.6
48.4
1.0
1992
51.8
40.9
7.3
1990
58.5
41.4
0.1
1988
58.3
41.1
0.5
1986
59.7
40.0
0.3
1984
53.7
45.7
0.6
1982
54.6
44.4
0.9
1980
47.6
51.8
0.6
1978
51.2
46.6
2.3
1976
58.0
40.6
1.4
1974
57.9
40.4
1.8
1972
53.1
45.0
1.9
1970
53.1
46.7
0.2
1968
47.7
52.2
0.1
1966
48.4
51.6
0.0
1964
54.4
45.6
0.1
1962
49.7
50.2
0.0
1960
50.2
49.5
0.4
1958
53.3
46.7
0.0
1956
51.3
48.7
0.0
1954
53.0
47.0
0.0
1952
46.0
54.0
0.0
1950
46.5
52.9
0.5
1948
49.8
50.2
0.0
1946
40.9
58.8
0.3
1944
40.8
58.9
0.3
Table compiled by Smart Politics.

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Remains of the Data

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Only three of the Top 10 and nine of the Top 50 vote-getters of all time are currently serving in the chamber.

Political Crumbs

Six for Thirteen

Collin Peterson remarked last month that he is leaning to run for reelection to Minnesota's 7th Congressional District in 2016. If he does and is victorious, he will creep even closer to the top of the list of the longest-serving U.S. Representatives in Minnesota history. The DFL congressman is only the sixth Minnesotan to win at least 13 terms to the U.S. House of the 135 elected to the chamber in state history. Peterson trails 18-term DFLer Jim Oberstar (1975-2011), 16-term Republicans Harold Knutson (1917-1949) and August Andresen (1925-1933; 1935-1958), and 14-term DFLers Martin Sabo (1979-2007) and John Blatnik (1947-1974). Andresen died in office, Sabo and Blatnik retired, and Knutson and Oberstar were defeated at the ballot box in 1948 and 2010 respectively. At 70 years, 7 months, 11 days through Monday, Peterson is currently the ninth oldest Gopher State U.S. Representative in history. DFLer Rick Nolan of the 8th CD is the seventh oldest at 71 years, 1 month, 23 days.


Seeing Red

Congressman Nick Rahall's failed bid for a 20th term in West Virginia this cycle, combined with a narrow loss by Nick Casey to Alex Mooney in Shelley Moore Capito's open seat, means that West Virginia Democrats will be shut out of the state's U.S. House delegation for the first time in over 90 years. The Republican sweep by two-term incumbent David McKinley in the 1st CD, Mooney in the 2nd, and Evan Jenkins over Rahall in the 3rd marks the first time the GOP has held all seats in the chamber from West Virginia since the Election of 1920. During the 67th Congress (1921-1923) all six seats from the state were controlled by the GOP. Since the Election of 1922, Democrats have won 76 percent of all U.S. House elections in the Mountain State - capturing 172 seats compared to 54 for the GOP.


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