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Wisconsin Poised to Extend Competitive Gubernatorial Election Streak

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Wisconsin is expected to join Rhode Island, Iowa, and Minnesota on Tuesday for the only states currently with four or more consecutive elections decided by single digits

scottwalker11.jpgWith virtually every public opinion poll on Wisconsin's recall election this year showing a single-digit lead for Scott Walker - some inside and some outside the poll's margin of error - Tuesday's gubernatorial race is almost assured to be another close race in the Badger State.

Over the last three gubernatorial elections Wisconsin ranks #5 in the nation for closest election results with an average margin of victory of just 5.6 points trailing only Minnesota (3.1 points), Oregon (4.1 points), Rhode Island (4.7 points), and Maine (5.1 points).

Wisconsin's inaugural Barrett vs. Walker matchup in 2010 was decided by 5.8 points after Democrat Jim Doyle won by 3.7 points in 2002 and 7.4 points in 2006.

The most recent public opinion poll found Walker ahead of Democratic challenger Tom Barrett by just three points - 50 to 47 percent.

If the race is decided by single digits, Wisconsin would join Rhode Island, Minnesota, and Iowa as the only states with at least four consecutive gubernatorial races decided by less than 10 points.

Rhode Island has a current streak of five such elections with its race for governor decided by single digits in 1994 (3.8 points), 1998 (8.8 points), 2002 (9.5 points), 2006 (2.0 points), and 2010 (2.5 points).

Minnesota and Iowa have seen their last four such contests decided by single digits.

Wisconsin has previously experienced similar periods of very competitive elections among the two major parties for its top executive post.

From 1855 to 1861, four consecutive elections were decided by single digits by an average of 3.9 points with Democrats winning in 1855 (0.2 points) and the GOP winning in 1857 (0.5 points), 1859 (6.6 points), and 1861 (8.4 points).

After a blowout Republican victory during the middle of the Civil War in 1863, the Badger State saw Republicans carry four more consecutive races by single digits in 1865 (9.4 points), 1867 (3.4 points), 1869 (6.3 points), and 1871 (6.4 points).

From 1881 to 1892, six consecutive races were decided by less than 10 points: Republicans won the first four in 1881 (7.0 points), 1884 (6.0 points), 1886 (6.5 points), and 1888 (5.7 points) with the Democrats claiming victory in 1890 (9.2 points) and 1892 (2.0 points).

But the most competitive stretch for gubernatorial races in state history occurred from 1954 though 1970 when nine consecutive contests were decided by single digits.

Republicans won in 1954 (3.1 points), 1956 (3.8 points), 1964 (1.2 points), 1966 (7.4 points), and 1968 (6.1 points) with Democrats winning in 1958 (7.3 points), 1960 (3.2 points), 1962 (1.0 points), and 1970 (9.3 points).

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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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