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Minnesota Republicans Notch 3rd Biggest Increase in State Senate Seats Nationwide

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Only New Hampshire and South Dakota gained a larger percentage of Senate seats in 2010 than Minnesota GOPers (+23.9 percent)

The eye-opening takeover of the Minnesota Senate by Republicans last month not only marked the first time the GOP has controlled the upper chamber since partisan elections were reintroduced in 1974, but also one of the biggest gains in the nation this cycle.

A Smart Politics study of 2010 state legislative election returns finds that Republican gains in the Minnesota Senate were the third largest proportionally nationwide, with the GOP increasing their seat tally by 23.9 percent.

The only two states that saw a greater surge for Republicans in upper legislative chambers across the country were New Hampshire (+37.5 percent) and South Dakota (+25.7 percent).

A total of 42 states had some or all of their senate seats on the ballot in November, with 7 states holding none or only special elections. (Nebraska has a unicameral legislative body).

Gopher State Republicans by far picked up the most raw number of seats in 2010 at 16, with North Carolina at 11, and New Hampshire, North Dakota, and South Dakota at nine each.

Minnesota has the most Senate seats of any state in the nation at 67, followed by New York (62), Illinois (59), and Georgia (56).

When adjusting for the size of each state's legislative body, the 16-seat gain by the Minnesota GOP ranks third in the nation.

Overall, the Upper Midwest saw some of the largest Republican gains in its state senate chambers across the country, with South Dakota at #2, Minnesota at #3, North Dakota at #7, Wisconsin at #10, and Iowa at #11.

· South Dakota Republicans saw their margin increase by nine seats (+25.7 percent) from 21-14 to 30-5 - their best mark since the 1960s.

· North Dakota Republicans also gained nine seats (+19.1 percent), augmenting their 26-21 margin to 35-12.

· Wisconsin Republicans took over the Senate in the Badger State, after relinquishing control for two cycles. The Wisconsin GOP recorded a five seat gain (+12.1 percent) to transform their 18-15 seat deficit to a 19-14 advantage. The five seat gain in Wisconsin was particularly impressive as only 17 of the body's 33 seats were on the ballot - with 10 of these controlled by Democrats before Election Day.

· Iowa Republicans fell just short of making a clean sweep for the GOP in all 10 Upper Midwestern legislative chambers. A six-seat gain (+12.0 percent) cut the Party's 32-18 deficit to 26-24.

Republicans enjoyed net gains in upper legislative chambers in 33 states in November, while losing ground to Democrats in just six: two seats each in Maryland and West Virginia and one seat each in Hawaii, Massachusetts, Mississippi, and New Jersey.

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Political Crumbs

Evolving?

When Scott Walker "punted" back in February after being asked if he was comfortable with the idea of evolution he added, "That's a question a politician shouldn't be involved in one way or the other." However, it may very well be a question that is asked at one of the upcoming GOP debates this year. In South Carolina during the first GOP debate in 2012, FOX News' Juan Williams asked Tim Pawlenty, "Do you equate the teaching of creationism with the teaching of evolution as the basis for what should be taught for our nation's schools?" Pawlenty replied, "There should be room in the curriculum for study of intelligent design" but that it was up to the local school districts if it should be in a science class or comparative theory class. At the fourth Republican debate held in California, Jon Huntsman addressed the GOP becoming "anti-science" thusly: "Listen, when you make comments that fly in the face of what 98 out of 100 climate scientists have said, when you call into question the science of evolution, all I'm saying is that, in order for the Republican Party to win, we can't run from science. We can't run from mainstream conservative philosophy."


73 Months and Counting

January's preliminary Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers show Minnesota's unemployment rate of 3.7 percent was once again lower than Wisconsin's 5.0 percent. That marks the 73rd consecutive month in which Minnesota has boasted a lower jobless rate than its neighbor to the east dating back to January 2009 including each of the last 67 months by at least one point. The Gopher State has now edged Wisconsin in the employment border battle for 204 of the last 216 months dating back to February 1997. Wisconsin only managed a lower unemployment rate than Minnesota for the 12 months of 2008 during this 18-year span.


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