Go to HHH home page.
Smart Politics
 


More Likely 2012 US Senate Scenario: Connecticut to the GOP or North Dakota to the Dems?

Bookmark and Share

Connecticut has never voted for a Republican U.S. Senator and a Democratic presidential nominee in the same cycle

Retirement announcements made by two long-serving Democrats in the U.S. Senate this week have added some early intrigue to what is already shaping up to be a fascinating 2012 election cycle.

North Dakota's Kent Conrad and (Independent Democrat) Joe Lieberman of Connecticut will both retire at the end of their terms in 2012.

The conventional wisdom, of course, is that North Dakota - a conservative state without a deep Democratic bench - will flip back to the Republicans while Connecticut - a liberal state - will go to the Democrats.

That wisdom held true in 2010, when both states held open seat races - won easily by the GOP in North Dakota (John Hoeven) and by the Democrats in Connecticut (Richard Blumenthal).

So, will there be any electoral drama in these two open seat races in 2012?

Putting convention aside, Smart Politics takes a historical look at Senatorial elections in the two states to analyze which unlikely scenario is more likely: North Dakota remaining in the Democratic column or Connecticut flipping to the GOP?

As luck would have it, both North Dakota and Connecticut are on the same election cycles, with each having Class I and Class III Senate seats.

Both states have also held exactly 33 general elections and four special elections since popular vote contests were introduced nearly 100 years ago.

Taking the long view, Republican candidates in North Dakota and Democrats in Connecticut have historically been almost mirror images of each other in U.S. Senate races.

Political Party Success

North Dakota has voted Republican in 21 of 37 elections since 1914, voted Democratic in 15 races, and elected a third party candidate in one contest (Gerald Nye in 1926).

Connecticut has voted Democratic in 20 of 37 elections, Republican in 16, and for a third party in one cycle (Lieberman in 2006).

Vote Received

Republicans in North Dakota have averaged 50.9 percent of the vote across these 37 popular vote elections since 1914. Democrats have averaged 41.5 percent and third parties 7.6 percent.

Democrats in Connecticut, meanwhile, have averaged a very similar 50.1 percent of the vote during their 37 Senate races. Republicans have averaged 45.7 percent and third parties 4.2 percent.

Recent Electoral History

A look at the shorter-term electoral trends finds Republicans winning only won one contest in both North Dakota and Connecticut since 1982.

The GOP has lost nine consecutive U.S. Senate elections in Connecticut since 1986, by an average margin of 26.3 points.

Prior to former Governor John Hoeven's rout in the 2010 North Dakota Senate race, Republicans had lost ten consecutive general and special election Senate races since 1982, by an average of 24.2 points.

Open Seat Races

With the retirements of Conrad and Lieberman, the two states will host open seat races in 2012.

Republicans have had identical success in the two states in open seat Senate races over the past century, with the GOP winning five Senate races and Democrats landing three in each state.

In North Dakota, Republicans won open seat Senate races in 1920, 1922, 1940, 1980, and 2010. Democrats won open seat races in 1960, 1992, and 1992 (special election).

In Connecticut, Republicans also won five open seat races: in 1924, 1928, 1946, 1952, and 1970. Democrats won in 1962, 1980, and 2010.

Split-Ticket Voting?

Of course, 2012 will also be a presidential election year, and that may be as big a determining factor as any - aside from the eventual Senate nominees - in determining the outcome of the Senate race.

When Connecticut's U.S. Senate races have taken place during presidential election years, the partisan vote for Senator has aligned with the partisan vote for president in 13 of 16 cycles.

Only in 1932, 1980, and 1988 have Connecticut voters split their ballots - and in every case for a Democratic Senator and a Republican presidential nominee.

In short, Connecticut has never elected a Republican Senator while voting for a Democratic presidential nominee in the same cycle.

North Dakotans, however, have split their presidential-Senate ticket in eight out of these 16 elections.

In 1944, 1976, 1988, 1992, 2000, and 2004 North Dakota voted for the Republican presidential nominee and a Democratic Senator.

In 1916 and 1932 North Dakota voted for the Democratic presidential nominee and a Republican Senator.

Given this electoral history, and the fact that Connecticut is almost assuredly voting for and North Dakota voting against Barack Obama in 2012, if there is going to be an upset in one of the state's U.S. Senate races, Smart Politics suspects it will be a conservative Democrat getting elected in North Dakota.

Follow Smart Politics on Twitter.

Previous post: Could Republicans Sweep the Midwest in US Senate Races Again in 2012?
Next post: Is Democratic Hold on Wisconsin's 2012 U.S. Senate Seat Tied to an Obama Victory?

Leave a comment


Remains of the Data

Is There a Presidential Drag On Gubernatorial Elections?

Only five of the 20 presidents to serve since 1900 have seen their party win a majority of gubernatorial elections during their administrations, and only one since JFK.

Political Crumbs

Strike Three for Miller-Meeks

Iowa Republicans had a banner day on November 4th, picking up both a U.S. Senate seat and one U.S. House seat, but Mariannette Miller-Meeks' defeat in her third attempt to oust Democrat Dave Loebsack in the 2nd CD means the GOP will not have a monopoly on the state's congressional delegation in the 114th Congress. The loss by Miller-Meeks (following up her defeats in 2008 and 2010) means major party nominees who lost their first two Iowa U.S. House races are now 0 for 10 the third time around in Iowa history. Miller-Meeks joins Democrat William Leffingwell (1858, 1868, 1870), Democrat Anthony Van Wagenen (1894, 1912 (special), 1912), Democrat James Murtagh (1906, 1914, 1916), Democrat Clair Williams (1944, 1946, 1952), Democrat Steven Carter (1948, 1950, 1956), Republican Don Mahon (1966, 1968, 1970), Republican Tom Riley (1968, 1974, 1976), Democrat Eric Tabor (1986, 1988, 1990), and Democrat Bill Gluba (1982, 1988, 2004) on the Hawkeye State's Three Strikes list.


Larry Pressler Wins the Silver

Larry Pressler may have fallen short in his long-shot, underfunded, and understaffed bid to return to the nation's upper legislative chamber, but he did end up notching the best showing for a non-major party South Dakota U.S. Senate candidate in more than 90 years. Pressler won 17.1 percent of the vote which is the best showing for an independent or third party U.S. Senate candidate in the state since 1920 when non-partisan candidate Tom Ayres won 24.1 percent in a race won by Republican Peter Norbeck. Overall, Pressler's 17.1 percent is good for the second best mark for a non-major party candidate across the 35 U.S. Senate contests in South Dakota history. Independent and third party candidates have appeared on the South Dakota U.S. Senate ballot just 25 times over the last century and only three have reached double digits: Pressler in 2014 and Ayres in 1920 and 1924 (12.1 percent). Pressler's defeat means he won't become the oldest candidate elected to the chamber in South Dakota history nor notch the record for the longest gap in service in the direct election era.


more POLITICAL CRUMBS

Humphrey School Sites
CSPG
Humphrey New Media Hub

Issues />

<div id=
Abortion
Afghanistan
Budget and taxes
Campaign finances
Crime and punishment
Economy and jobs
Education
Energy
Environment
Foreign affairs
Gender
Health
Housing
Ideology
Immigration
Iraq
Media
Military
Partisanship
Race and ethnicity
Reapportionment
Redistricting
Religion
Sexuality
Sports
Terrorism
Third parties
Transportation
Voting