Upper Midwestern Democrats are hoping the large deficits they currently face in state legislatures around the five-state region (IA, MN, ND, SD, WI) do not grow in November's elections. After the 2010 cycle, Republicans enjoyed a 144-88 advantage in state senates across these states (62.1 percent) - their best showing since in 40 years when they won 65.7 percent of upper chamber seats in 1970. On the House side, Republicans bested the Democrats in 2010 by a 311-184-2 margin (62.6 percent) which was their best showing since 1968 when they captured 68.0 percent of lower chamber seats. Through recall and special elections Democrats have netted one house and two senate seats since November 2010, but the party currently controls just two of the 10 chambers in these five states (the Iowa Senate and Wisconsin Senate).
Barack Obama has delivered an address before a joint session of Congress eight times since taking office five years ago. During his first three speeches (February 2009's inaugural address to Congress, September 2009's address on health care reform, and the 2010 State of the Union), the president's tie color of choice was red. After the GOP tsunami in November 2010, Obama has opted for a blue tie in four of his five speeches held in the Republican-controlled lower legislative chamber (for the 2011, 2013, and 2014 SOTUs and his September 2011 address on job growth). The president reverted back to his red tie only once, for the 2012 SOTU.
Tom Latham's surprise announcement last month that he would retire from the U.S. House at this end of this term was also an unusual exit in modern Hawkeye State history. Over the last 50+ years since the 1962 cycle, only six of 32 Iowa U.S. Representatives - including Latham - left the chamber via retirement, or 18 percent: Democrats Merwin Coad in 1962 and Berkley Bedell in 1986 and Republicans Charles Hoeven in 1964, Harold Gross in 1974, Cooper Evans in 1986, and Latham in 2014. Seventeen others were defeated in reelection bids, while nine ran for higher office. Five of these were defeated (Republicans Tom Tauke in 1990, Fred Grandy in 1994, Jim Lightfoot in 1996, Greg Ganske in 2002, Jim Nussle in 2006), three were victorious (John Culver in 1974, Chuck Grassley in 1980, Tom Harkin in 1984), with one yet to be determined (1st CD Democrat Bruce Braley, running for U.S. Senate this cycle).
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