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Wisconsin Eyes Just Fourth Plurality Winner in GOP Primary Since 1912

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Republican primary and caucus victors have reached the 50 percent mark just six times in 29 contests in the 2012 cycle, down from 10 at this stage in 2008

wisconsinseal10.pngWhether or not Rick Santorum scores one of his patented 4-5 point surges in the closing day heading into the Wisconsin primary, the winner of Tuesday's high profile contest is probably not going to reach the 50 percent mark.

That, of course, would not be unusual for the 2012 cycle, with winners of just one-fifth of the 29 state primary and caucus contests held to date recording more than 50 percent of the vote: Nevada, Virginia, Idaho, and Massachusetts for Mitt Romney and Missouri and Kansas for Santorum.

That number is down from 2008, in which winners in 10 of the first 29 state contests emerged with a majority of the vote: Nevada, Maine, Massachusetts, Colorado, and Utah for Romney, Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York for John McCain, and Kansas and Arkansas for Mike Huckabee.

At this point in the 2008 cycle, McCain had notched 50 percent of the vote in just three of the 12 states he had won, compared to four of 16 for Romney in 2012.

With four candidates still in the race - even with the pull on the electorate by Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich loosening - reaching 50 percent has been a challenge for both Romney and Santorum.

Then again, if one of the candidates had emerged as a consensus favorite in the voters' eyes, perhaps there would not be four candidates left in the race in the first instance.

As for Wisconsin, just three of the state's 25 previous GOP primary winners failed to reach the 50 percent mark, with Romney or Santorum slated to become the 4th in the 26th such contest Tuesday:

· In 1948, former Minnesota Governor Harold Stassen defeated Douglas MacArthur by 5.4 points in the Badger State with just 39.4 percent of the vote.

· In 1952, Ohio U.S. Senator Robert Taft was victorious over California Governor Earl Warren by 6.8 points with 40.6 percent of the vote.

· In 1980, Ronald Reagan defeated George H.W. Bush by 9.8 points with 40.2 percent of the vote.

Only four other Wisconsin primary winners failed to reach the 60 percent mark: favorite son Robert La Follette in 1920 (52.8 percent), Gerald Ford in 1976 (55.2 percent), Bob Dole in 1996 (52.3 percent), and John McCain in 2008 (54.7 percent).

The GOP primary winner has averaged 75.6 percent of the vote in Wisconsin over the last 100 years, with an average victory margin of 59.3 points.

Romney reached 46.7 percent in his win in neighboring Illinois two weeks ago. Wisconsin and Illinois have voted for the same Republican White House hopeful in each of the last 11 electoral cycles dating back to 1968.

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Remains of the Data

Which States Own the Best Track Record in Backing Eventual GOP Presidential Nominees?

Nine states (each with primaries) have an unblemished record in voting for the eventual Republican nominee since 1976 - and not all host contests on the back end of the calendar.

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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