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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

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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