Minnesota ’08 U.S. House Contests More Competitive Than National Average by Double-Digits

As Minnesota gears up for congressional and legislative redistricting in the next few years, as well as the possible loss of a U.S. House seat, the Gopher State can take some pride in the fact that its U.S. House contests continue to be more competitive than the national average by double-digit margins – for four consecutive election cycles since the current redistricting map took effect in 2002, according to an analysis by Smart Politics.

In 2008, the average margin of victory in Minnesota’s eight U.S. House races was 27.6 points, 10.6 points lower than the 38.2-point average across all 435 contests nationwide. Since redistricting in 2002, the average margin of victory in Minnesota has been fairly steady in its elections to the U.S. House: 30.2 points in 2002, 26.6 points in 2004, and 25.4 points in 2006.

The state’s 10.6-point competitiveness advantage in 2008, however, is the lowest for Minnesota since the new Congressional district lines were drawn. In 2002 the Gopher State was 12.4 points more competitive than the nation as a whole, followed by 14.1 points in 2004, and 10.9 points in 2006.

Minnesota has also boasted a greater number of highly competitive seats than the U.S. overall. Since 2002, 5 of Minnesota’s 32 U.S. House races, or 15.6 percent, have been decided by less than 10 points: Districts 3 and 6 in 2008, Districts 1 and 6 in 2006, and District 6 in 2004. Nationwide, just 9.3 percent of general election House races since 2002 have been decided by single-digits (161 of 1,740).

The Gopher State does not score the best marks in the region, however, when it comes to fielding competitive congressional races – not by a long shot. Iowa, home to five congressional districts, has seen an average margin of victory in the last four election cycles of just 15.9 points, compared to 27.5 points for Minnesota. In 2008, the average margin of victory in the Hawkeye State was 20.9 points – nearly 7 points more competitive than Minnesota. This past election was actually the least competitive in Iowa since redistricting: in 2002 the average margin of victory was 13.1 points, followed by 18.1 points in 2004, and 11.5 points in 2006. Overall, Iowa’s congressional races have been 23.6 points more competitive than the nation as a whole, with 20 percent of its contests decided by less than 10 points (4 of 20).

Minnesota has been much more competitive than its neighbor to the east. The state of Wisconsin actually has a poorer track record than the nation as a whole in terms of fielding competitive U.S. House races. Since 2002, the average margin of victory in the Badger State has been 41.4 points, which is 1.9 points higher than the national average: 52.6 points in 2002, 37.7 points in 2004, 34.8 points in 2006, and 40.3 points in 2008. Only 2 of Wisconsin’s 32 contests since 2002 (6.3 percent) have been decided by less than 10 points (the 8th CD in both 2006 and 2008). Moreover, Wisconsin has failed to place both a Democrat and a Republican on the ballot in nearly one-quarter of its contests during this span (7 of 32, 22 percent). Minnesota and Iowa have consistently fielded candidates from both major political parties.

Upper Midwestern Competitiveness in U.S. House Elections, 2002-2008 (Margin of Victory)

Year
U.S.
Minnesota
Iowa
Wisconsin
2008
38.2
27.6 (-10.6)
20.9 (-17.3)
40.3 (+2.1)
2006
36.3
25.4 (-10.9)
11.5 (-24.8)
34.8 (-1.5)
2004
40.7
26.6 (-14.1)
18.1 (-22.6)
37.7 (-3.0)
2002
42.6
30.2 (-12.4)
13.1 (-29.5)
52.6 (+10.0)
Average
39.5
27.5 (-12.0)
15.9 (-23.6)
41.4 (+1.9)

2 Comments on "Minnesota ’08 U.S. House Contests More Competitive Than National Average by Double-Digits"

  1. In the Year 2008, the average is increasing and back to its normal rating…Thanks for this opportunity to let us know this thing:)

  2. IA uses a line-drawing commission, whereas the fedral judiciary has re-drawn the lines for MN for decades (neither party has been capable of monopolising the 3 ‘actors’ at the opportune time). By contrast, the Badger (Cheesehead) State’s has been re-drawn purely by the majority-party politicians. Draw your own conclusions!

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