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Will Democrats Run a Candidate in Every 2014 US Senate Race?

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Democrats have failed to field a U.S. Senate candidate in as many races since 2000 as they did from 1930 through 1999 (eight)

democraticparty10.pngDemocrats are not having the easiest time getting their candidates of choice in vulnerable U.S. Senate races in 2014.

After a failed recruitment of Stephanie Herseth Sandlin in South Dakota, the wheels now seem to be coming off in Montana where the party hopes to hold retiring Max Baucus' seat.

A surprise announcement last weekend by former two-term Governor Brian Schweitzer that he would not enter the race was followed up by news that Montana Auditor Monica Lindeen was also not seeking a Senate seat in 2014.

While Democrats will eventually land a candidate in Montana - though not necessarily a candidate who can win - the party has found greater difficulty in filling the ballot in less competitive states in recent cycles including a first ever failed attempt to run a candidate in South Dakota in 2010 against John Thune.

Overall, a major party candidate has not appeared on the U.S. Senate general or special election ballot in 142 of 1,825 races since the first direct election over a century ago, or 7.8 percent - 117 without Republicans and 25 without Democrats, according to a Smart Politics analysis of election data.

The vast majority of these instances involved races in the deep South from the 1910s to the 1950s, where there was essentially one-party rule for decades and the Democratic primary frequently determined the winner of the seat.

U.S. Senate Elections Without a Major Party Candidate by Decade

Decade
No Democrat
No Republican
Total
1900s*
1
0
1
1910s
2
15
17
1920s
6
13
19
1930s
3
23
26
1940s
1
21
22
1950s
1
22
23
1960s
1
10
11
1970s
0
9
9
1980s
0
0
0
1990s
2
2
4
2000s
6
2
8
2010s
2
0
2
Total
25
117
142
* Includes pre-17th Amendment elections in which voters cast U.S. Senate 'preference' ballots. Table compiled by Smart Politics.

Louisiana leads the way with 20 such contests without a Republican on the ballot since 1913, followed by Georgia with 19, Mississippi with 17, South Carolina with 13, Arkansas with 12, Virginia with 11, Alabama with 10, and Florida with seven.

That accounts for 109 of the 117 races without a GOPer in the direct vote era, with the remaining eight occurring in North Carolina (1948, 1954 - twice), Hawaii (1974), Massachusetts (2002), Tennessee (1934), Texas (1952), and West Virginia (1976).

And as for the 25 races without a Democrat?

No-shows have been on the rise for the Democratic Party over the last decade.

Since 2000, Democrats have been on the short end in eight of the 10 U.S. Senate races in which only one major party candidate was on the ballot: in Arizona (2000, against Jon Kyl), Kansas (2002, Pat Roberts), Indiana (2006, Dick Lugar), Mississippi (2002, Thad Cochran), South Dakota (2010, John Thune), Vermont (2006, 2012, Bernie Sanders), and Virginia (2002, John Warner).

(Note: Sanders, Vermont's victorious independent candidate during those two cycles, does caucus with the Democrats).

As a result, in just 13 years, Democrats have failed to field a candidate in as many U.S. Senate races - eight - as they did during the preceding 70-year period from the 1930s through the 1990s.

During that seven-decade stretch, Democratic nominees were absent from the ballot:

· Three times in the 1930s: California (1934), Minnesota (1936 special and general)
· Once in the 1940s: California (1940)
· Once in the 1950s: California (1952)
· Once in the 1960s: Vermont (1968)
· Twice in the 1990s: Mississippi (1990), Virginia (1990)

Minnesota leads the way with the largest number of U.S. Senate contests without a Democratic candidate with four - most during the rise in power of the state's Farmer-Labor Party: in 1918, 1928, 1936, and 1936 (special).

California (1934, 1940, 1952) and Vermont (1968, 2006, 2012) are next with three each.

Republicans, meanwhile, have not fielded a candidate in only two elections since 2000 - in Massachusetts (2002, versus John Kerry) and Arkansas (2008, Mark Pryor).

Since 1980, the only other two races in which there was no Republican candidate on the ballot took place in Arkansas (1990, against David Pryor) and Georgia (1990, Sam Nunn).

A total of 24 states have fielded a major party candidate in every direct vote U.S. Senate election in state history: Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Idaho, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.

Republican-dominated states to watch and see if the Democrats run a candidate in 2014 include Alabama, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, Nebraska, Texas, and Wyoming.

A recent Smart Politics report examined state-by-state trends in fielding both Democrats and Republicans in U.S. House races and found Indiana, New Hampshire, Minnesota, Idaho, and Montana have the longest consecutive streaks.

U.S. Senate Races with One Major Party Candidate on the Ballot

State
No Democrat
No Republican
#
Races
%
Louisiana
 
1914, 1918, 1918, 1920, 1924, 1926, 1930, 1932, 1936, 1936, 1938, 1942, 1944, 1948, 1954, 1956, 1966, 1968, 1974, 1978
20
36
55.6
Georgia
 
1914, 1920, 1922, 1924, 1926, 1930, 1932, 1936, 1938, 1942, 1944, 1948, 1950, 1954, 1956, 1960, 1962, 1966, 1990
19
38
50.0
Mississippi
1990, 2002
1916, 1918, 1924, 1928, 1930, 1934, 1936, 1940, 1941, 1942, 1946, 1948, 1952, 1958, 1964, 1970, 1976
19
36
52.8
South Carolina
 
1914, 1918, 1918, 1920, 1924, 1926, 1930, 1941, 1942, 1950, 1954, 1956, 1960
13
37
35.1
Virginia
1990, 2002
1916, 1918, 1928, 1930, 1940, 1942, 1952, 1954, 1958, 1960, 1976
13
37
35.1
Arkansas
 
1918, 1930, 1932, 1937, 1942, 1948, 1950, 1954, 1960, 1966, 1990, 2008
12
36
33.3
Alabama
 
1914, 1918, 1930, 1938, 1942, 1946, 1950, 1956, 1974, 1978
10
38
26.3
Florida
 
1914, 1932, 1934, 1936, 1940, 1952, 1956
7
36
19.4
Minnesota
1918, 1928, 1936, 1936
 
4
38
10.5
California
1934, 1940, 1952
 
3
37
8.1
North Carolina
 
1948, 1954, 1954
3
40
7.5
Vermont
1968, 2006, 2012
 
3
39
7.7
Oregon
1906, 1918
 
2
42
4.8
Wisconsin
1925, 1928
 
2
37
5.4
Arizona
2000
 
1
36
2.8
Hawaii
 
1974
1
21
4.8
Indiana
2006
 
1
38
2.6
Iowa
1926
 
1
36
2.8
Kansas
2002
 
1
38
2.6
Massachusetts
 
2002
1
38
2.6
North Dakota
1926
 
1
38
2.6
Pennsylvania
1922
 
1
38
2.6
South Dakota
2010
 
1
34
2.9
Tennessee
 
1934
1
38
2.6
Texas
 
1952
1
37
2.7
West Virginia
 
1976
1
37
2.7
Alaska
 
 
0
21
0.0
Colorado
 
 
0
37
0.0
Connecticut
 
 
0
38
0.0
Delaware
 
 
0
36
0.0
Idaho
 
 
0
39
0.0
Illinois
 
 
0
37
0.0
Kentucky
 
 
0
40
0.0
Maine
 
 
0
35
0.0
Maryland
 
 
0
35
0.0
Michigan
 
 
0
36
0.0
Missouri
 
 
0
38
0.0
Montana
 
 
0
35
0.0
Nebraska
 
 
0
37
0.0
Nevada
 
 
0
40
0.0
New Hampshire
 
 
0
37
0.0
New Jersey
 
 
0
38
0.0
New Mexico
 
 
0
37
0.0
New York
 
 
0
37
0.0
Ohio
 
 
0
38
0.0
Oklahoma
 
 
0
36
0.0
Rhode Island
 
 
0
35
0.0
Utah
 
 
0
34
0.0
Washington
 
 
0
35
0.0
Wyoming
 
 
0
38
0.0
Total
25
117
142
1825
92.2
* Includes pre-17th Amendment elections in which voters cast U.S. Senate 'preference' ballots. Table compiled by Smart Politics.

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Remains of the Data

No Free Passes: States With 2 Major Party Candidates in Every US House Race

Indiana has now placed candidates from both major parties on the ballot in a nation-best 189 consecutive U.S. House races, with New Hampshire, Minnesota, Idaho, and Montana also north of 100 in a row.

Political Crumbs

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).


An Idaho Six Pack

Two-term Idaho Republican Governor Butch Otter only polled at 39 percent in a recent PPP survey of the state's 2014 race - just four points ahead of Democratic businessman A.J. Balukoff. Otter's low numbers reflect his own struggles as a candidate (witness his weak primary win against State Senator Russ Fulcher) combined with the opportunity for disgruntled Idahoans to cast their votes for one of four third party and independent candidates, who collectively received the support of 12 percent of likely voters: Libertarian John Bujak, the Constitution Party's Steve Pankey, and independents Jill Humble and Pro-Life (aka Marvin Richardson). The six candidate options in a gubernatorial race sets an all-time record in the Gem State across the 46 elections conducted since statehood. The previous high water mark of five candidates was reached in seven previous cycles: 1902, 1904, 1908, 1912, 1914, 1966, and 2010.


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