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GOP Seeks First Grip on Both US Senate Seats in Decades in Florida, Nebraska, North Dakota, Wisconsin

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The last time Florida Republicans held both Senate seats was 1875 - the second longest stretch in the nation; Wisconsin (1957), North Dakota (1960), and Nebraska (1976) could also see an end to a decades-long Democratic presence in its state delegations

republicanparty03.gifOne of the top Republican Party goals for the general election this November is to pick up enough seats to win back control of the U.S. Senate, which they lost after the 2006 election.

The GOP has a chance to pick off Democratic seats in several states this cycle, including seven which, if they were successful, would give the party a clean sweep of that state's U.S. Senate delegation: Florida, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

For some of these states, however, it has been several decades - to more than a century in one case - since the last time both seats were under control of the Republican Party.

A Smart Politics analysis of U.S. Senate election data finds that Republican pick-ups this November in Florida, Nebraska, North Dakota, and Wisconsin would mark the first time the Party held both Senate seats in these respective state delegations dating back decades and, in Florida's case, more than a century.

A win by the Republicans in Florida against two-term Democrat Bill Nelson would be one of the biggest coups for the party, which has not held both seats in the Sunshine State since Reconstruction.

Three weeks ago, a Rasmussen poll showed Nelson up by double-digits over the three top Republican contenders - U.S. Representative Connie Mack, former U.S. Senator George LeMieux, and businessman Mike McCalister.

The last pair of Republicans to represent Florida in the Senate was Abijah Gilbert and Simon Conover at the end of Gilbert's term in March 1875.

The only other state in which Republicans are facing a longer drought in controlling both Senate seats is Louisiana, which last saw GOPers holding both seats in November 1872 (with William Kellogg and J. Rodman West).

Republicans have failed to control both seats for over 100 years in just two other states: Arkansas (March 1885) and Montana (March 1911).

Rounding out the Top 10 longest periods are Rhode Island at #5 (January 1935), Massachusetts at #6 (January 1953), Michigan at #7 (January 1955), Wisconsin at #8 (May 1957), West Virginia at #9 (November 1958), and Connecticut and New Jersey tied at #10 (January 1959).

Hawaii (#12) is the only state never to have been represented by two Republicans in the Senate at the same time, since achieving statehood in August 1959.

In Wisconsin, where the political landscape is currently dominated by the recall election against Republican Governor Scott Walker, Republicans seem to have a leg up in November's U.S. Senate race - provided likely GOP nominee Tommy Thompson prevails in August's primary.

The winner of that primary will face Democratic U.S. Representative Tammy Baldwin, who owns one of the most liberal voting records in the nation's lower legislative chamber.

The last time Republicans held both Senate seats in the Badger State was May 1957 when Alexander Wiley served with Joe McCarthy prior to the latter's death that month.

Since McCarthy's death, Democrats went on to win 16 seats against only two losses until Ron Johnson's upset victory in 2010 over three-term Democrat Russ Feingold.

Republicans are also favored to secure their first lock on both U.S. Senate seats in decades in North Dakota and Nebraska.

North Dakota owns the thirteenth longest stretch in the nation without a GOP-only U.S. Senate delegation at nearly 52 years when Milton Young and Clarence Brunsdale served alongside each other in D.C. in August 1960.

The Peace Garden State's race this cycle to fill retiring Kent Conrad's open seat is poised for a matchup between former Democratic state Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp and one-term Republican U.S. Representative Rick Berg.

Nebraska, which was last represented by two Republicans in the U.S. Senate in December 1976 at the end of Roman Hruska's fourth term in office alongside Carl Curtis, has had one of the most colorful primary seasons to date.

After a few false starts and flip-flops, former two-term Democratic Senator Bob Kerrey decided to run for his old seat currently held by retiring two-term Democrat Ben Nelson.

Kerrey will square off against insurgent Republican State Senator Deb Fischer, who rallied in the closing days of a Republican primary campaign to defeat state Attorney General and party favorite Jon Bruning in the second closest Nebraska U.S. Senate primary in GOP history.

Republicans also have a chance to hold both Senate seats in three battleground states where they yielded seats in the Election of 2006: Missouri, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

Fifteen states are currently represented by two Republicans in the Senate: Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming.

Longest Period Without Republicans Holding Both U.S. Senate Seats by State

Rank
State
Date
GOP Senators
1
Louisiana
January 1872
William Kellogg, J. Rodman West
2
Florida
March 1875
Abijah Gilbert, Simon Conover
3
Arkansas
March 1885
Powell Clayton, Stephen Dorsey
4
Montana
March 1911
Thomas Carter, Joseph Dixon
5
Rhode Island
January 1935
Jesse Metcalf, Felix Hebert
6
Massachusetts
January 1953
Leverett Saltonstall, Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr.
7
Michigan
January 1955
Homer Ferguson, Charles Potter
8
Wisconsin
May 1957
Alexander Wiley, Joseph McCarthy
9
West Virginia
November 1958
W. Chapman Revercomb, John Hoblitzell
10
Connecticut
January 1959
Prescott Bush, William Purtell
10
New Jersey
January 1959
H. Alexander Smith, Clifford Case
12
Hawaii
August 1959
(none)
13
North Dakota
August 1960
Milton Young, Clarence Brunsdale
14
California
January 1969
Thomas Kuchel, George Murphy
15
Illinois
November 1970
Charles Percy, Ralph Smith
16
New York
January 1971
Jacob Javits, Charles Goodell
17
Delaware
January 1973
J. Caleb Boggs, William Roth
18
Vermont
January 1976
George Aiken, Robert Stafford
19
Nebraska
December 1976
Roman Hruska, Carl Curtis
20
Maryland
January 1977
Charles Mathias, John Beall
21
New Mexico
January 1983
Pete Domenici, Harrison Schmitt
22
Iowa
January 1985
Bourke Hickenlooper, Jack Miller
23
Nevada
January 1987
Paul Laxalt, J. Chic Hecht
23
South Dakota
January 1987
Larry Pressler, James Abdnor
23
Washington
January 1987
Slade Gorton, Daniel Evans
26
Minnesota
January 1991
Dave Durenberger, Rudy Boschwitz
27
Oregon
October 1995
Mark Hatfield, Bob Packwood
28
Colorado
January 2005
Ben Nighthorse Campbell, Wayne Allard
29
Missouri
January 2007
Kit Bond, James Talent
29
Ohio
January 2007
Mike DeWine, George Voinovich
29
Pennsylvania
January 2007
Arlen Specter, Rick Santorum
29
Virginia
January 2007
John Warner, George Allen
33
Alaska
January 2009
Ted Stevens, Lisa Murkowski
33
New Hampshire
January 2009
Judd Gregg, John Sununu
33
North Carolina
January 2009
Elizabeth Dole, Richard Burr
36
Alabama
Current
Richard Shelby, Jeff Sessions
36
Arizona
Current
John McCain, Jon Kyl
36
Georgia
Current
Saxby Chambliss, Johnny Isakson
36
Idaho
Current
Mike Crapo, Jim Risch
36
Indiana
Current
Dick Lugar, Dan Coats
36
Kansas
Current
Pat Roberts, Jerry Moran
36
Kentucky
Current
Mitch McConnell, Rand Paul
36
Maine
Current
Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins
36
Mississippi
Current
Thad Cochran, Roger Wicker
36
Oklahoma
Current
James Inhofe, Tom Coburn
36
South Carolina
Current
Lindsey Graham, Jim DeMint
36
Tennessee
Current
Lamar Alexander, Bob Corker
36
Texas
Current
Kay Bailey Hutchison, John Cornyn
36
Utah
Current
Orrin Hatch, Mike Lee
36
Wyoming
Current
Mike Enzi, John Barrasso
Data compiled by Smart Politics.

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  • Richly informative and interestsing.

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    Remains of the Data

    Strange Bedfellows: A Historical Review of Divided US Senate Delegations

    Over the last century, states have been twice as likely to be represented by a single political party in the U.S. Senate than have a split delegation; only Delaware, Iowa, and Illinois have been divided more than half the time.

    Political Crumbs

    Haugh to Reach New Heights

    The North Carolina U.S. Senate race between Democratic incumbent Kay Hagan and Republican Thom Tillis may go down to the wire next Tuesday, but along the way Libertarian nominee Sean Haugh is poised to set a state record for a non-major party candidate. Haugh, who previously won 1.5 percent of the vote in the Tar Heel State's 2002 race, has polled at or above five percent in 10 of the last 12 polls that included his name. The current high water mark for a third party or independent candidate in a North Carolina U.S. Senate election is just 3.3 percent, recorded by Libertarian Robert Emory back in 1992. Only one other candidate has eclipsed the three percent mark - Libertarian Christopher Cole with 3.1 percent in 2008.


    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).


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