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Death Triggers Nearly Half of U.S. House Special Elections

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In less than two weeks, Nevada will hold its first special election to the U.S. House in state history, with 2nd Congressional District residents voting to fill the seat vacated by Republican Dean Heller who was appointed to the U.S. Senate after the resignation of scandal-plagued GOPer John Ensign. Over the last 50 years, there have been 220 special elections for the House of Representatives heading into the September 13th contests in Nevada and New York's 9th CD (to fill Democrat Anthony Weiner's seat). Nearly one out of two such elections during this span were caused by the death of the U.S. House member - with 102 such cases dating back to 1961 (46.3 percent). However, with the inclusion of NV-02 and NY-09, there have now been eight consecutive special elections conducted for seats vacated due to reasons other than death - the longest such streak during this five-decade long stretch. Well-known members of Congress to die in office during this span include Democrat Claude Pepper (FL-18), Republican Sonny Bono of California (CA-44), and Democrat John Murtha (PA-12).

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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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