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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

Who Has Won the Most Votes in US Senate Electoral History?

Only three of the Top 10 and nine of the Top 50 vote-getters of all time are currently serving in the chamber.

Political Crumbs

Six for Thirteen

Collin Peterson remarked last month that he is leaning to run for reelection to Minnesota's 7th Congressional District in 2016. If he does and is victorious, he will creep even closer to the top of the list of the longest-serving U.S. Representatives in Minnesota history. The DFL congressman is only the sixth Minnesotan to win at least 13 terms to the U.S. House of the 135 elected to the chamber in state history. Peterson trails 18-term DFLer Jim Oberstar (1975-2011), 16-term Republicans Harold Knutson (1917-1949) and August Andresen (1925-1933; 1935-1958), and 14-term DFLers Martin Sabo (1979-2007) and John Blatnik (1947-1974). Andresen died in office, Sabo and Blatnik retired, and Knutson and Oberstar were defeated at the ballot box in 1948 and 2010 respectively. At 70 years, 7 months, 11 days through Monday, Peterson is currently the ninth oldest Gopher State U.S. Representative in history. DFLer Rick Nolan of the 8th CD is the seventh oldest at 71 years, 1 month, 23 days.


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.


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