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Will Snowe Retirement Give Maine Democrats Rare Congressional Delegation Majority?

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Democrats have held a majority of U.S. Senate and U.S. House seats from Maine for just seven out of 79 cycles since the formation of the GOP in the 1850s

olympiasnowe10.JPGTuesday's announcement by three-term U.S. Senator Olympia Snowe that she would not seek reelection this November may have pleased conservatives and Tea Party members who were frustrated by her moderate voting record, but it was undoubtedly a blow to the Republican Party as they seek to gain control of the nation's upper legislative chamber.

Snowe's seat moves from safe Republican to an instant toss-up in which both parties will be scrambling for their best candidate.

And now, presuming Democrats hold each of the state's two congressional districts in 2012 - both of which have remained blue since the Election of 1996 - the Party has its best chance to land a majority of seats in the state's congressional delegation for the first time in nearly 40 years.

A Smart Politics review of Maine electoral history finds that Democrats have held a majority of U.S. Senate and U.S. House seats from the Pine Tree State for just seven of 79 electoral cycles since the formation of the Republican Party in 1854.

By contrast, Republicans have held a majority of seats in Maine's congressional delegation for 57 cycles, with the two parties deadlocked 15 times, including each of the last eight.

The last time Democrats held a majority of Maine's seats on Capitol Hill was during the 93rd Congress from 1973-1974 when Edmund Muskie and William Hathaway sat in the Senate and Peter Kyros represented the 1st CD.

Democrats also held a majority of seats in the 62nd (1911-1912), 73rd (1933-1934), 86th (1959-1960), 90th (1967-1968), 91st (1969-1970), and 92nd (1971-1972) Congresses.

Maine, like many northeastern states, used to be a haven for Republicans since the formation of the GOP.

In fact, the Democratic Party has never held all U.S. Senate and House seats in Maine, while Republicans have enjoyed a clean sweep of the delegation to Capitol Hill during 84 of the last 158 years, or 53 percent of the time.

Of course, should either U.S. Representatives Chellie Pingree or Michael Michaud run for Snowe's seat, Democrats will have to work a bit harder to keep that open seat blue in November.

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Remains of the Data

Plurality-Winning Governors Elected At Century-Long High Water Mark

The rate of gubernatorial candidates elected without the support of a majority of voters is at its highest level since the 1910s.

Political Crumbs

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.


Home Field Advantage?

When the 114th Congress convenes in a few days, Maine will be represented by one home-grown U.S. Representative: Waterville-born Republican Bruce Poliquin. With the departure of Millinocket-born Mike Michaud, who launched a failed gubernatorial bid, the Pine Tree State was poised to send a House delegation to D.C. without any Maine-born members for the first time since 1821. Three-term U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree (born in Minnesota) coasted to reelection as expected, however Poliquin edged Kentucky-born Emily Cain by 5.3 points to keep the streak alive. Since 1876, a total of 208 of the 222 candidates elected to the nation's lower legislative chamber from the state have been born in Maine, or 94 percent.


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