A study of Minnesota election results by Smart Politics found that of the 318 general election U.S. House races conducted in 74 years, 2008 Republicans held the lowest percentage of ballots cast for U.S. House candidates since the Great Depression in 1934. Ouch.
In 2008, just 38.1 percent of Minnesotans cast their ballots for Republicans in U.S. House contests, compared to 57.5 percent for the DFL and 4.3 percent for third party candidates. This marks the 6th largest vote percentage for the DFL in its history (behind 1986, 1990, 1988, 1976, and 1974 respectively). In total, 1,612,480 ballots were cast for the DFL, compared to 1,069,015 for Republicans, and 121,119 for third party or write-in candidates.
Votes for Republican U.S. House candidates had not dipped below the 40 percent mark since the second time FDR was elected president back in 1936. In that year, 38.5 percent of Gopher State residents voted for Republicans, with 42.4 percent for Farmer-Laborites, 17.4 percent for Democrats, and 1.6 percent for other political parties. Even fighting in tough three-way battles in 1936, House Republican candidates fared slightly better in that year than in 2008 - by about a half a percent. In 1934 32.5 percent of voters cast their ballots for Republicans in U.S. House contests.
In 2008, Republicans also received a lower percentage of the vote than in any year in DFL history. Even in its inaugural election of 1944, the DFL outperformed the GOP of 2008 by 2.7 points (at 40.8 percent). In fact, DFL U.S. House hopefuls have never received less than 40 percent of the vote en masse in a general election.Why does this matter? We reported yesterday that Minnesota might lose one of its U.S. House seats in 2010. With a stronger Democratic power in the state, this could mean redistricting that eliminates a Republican district.