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Predicting 2012

Paul Demko//June 20, 2012//

Predicting 2012

Paul Demko//June 20, 2012//

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DFL Sen. Jeff Hayden, left, and GOP Sen. Julianne Ortman hold their respective parties’ safest Minnesota Senate seats — though Ortman, who did not secure her local party unit’s endorsement, faces a primary challenge from activist Bruce Schwichtenberg. (Staff photos: Peter Bartz-Gallagher)

Efforts to parse new legislative map yield clues about battles for House, Senate — but buyer beware

In the four months since legislative maps were released, political strategists and journalists have been scrutinizing the new House and Senate districts to determine which ones favor Republicans or Democrats and where the key battlegrounds will be in 2012.

The exercise is largely academic — nobody gets an election certificate based on predictions, after all — but it will help determine where campaign dollars and sweat equity are directed in the coming months.

Shortly after the maps were released, Minnpost looked at the outcomes of legislative elections in the three previous election cycles as a guidepost to how the 2012 elections will likely play out. The analysis suggested that there’s a pronounced edge for DFLers in the current election cycle. Specifically, Minn-post determined that 11 House Republicans currently represent districts that favor Democrats, while no DFL incumbents were drawn into districts that favor Republicans. In the Senate, the Minnpost analysis found that 11 districts currently represented by Republicans tilt in favor of Democrats. Just two districts with DFL representation at present lean toward Republicans.

While this metric would seemingly suggest that Democrats stand a pretty good chance of taking back the House and Senate, it likely overstates their strength. That’s because two out of the three election cycles sampled — 2006 and 2008 — were very strong years for DFLers.

Veteran GOP strategist Gregg Peppin suggested that you’d come up with a similarly rosy forecast for Republicans if you looked at select races from 2002, 2006 and 2010. “Political indices, like beauty, are in the eye of the beholder,” Peppin said.

In addition, this methodology doesn’t account at all for incumbent bias. Many districts that tilt in favor of one party in most elections will still vote in favor of popular incumbents regardless of political affiliation. Retiring Rep. Kory Kath, for instance, represents a southern Minnesota district that favored GOP gubernatorial nominee Tom Emmer by 11 percentage points over DFLer Mark Dayton in 2010. Yet Kath won re-election by a whopping 24 percentage points.

“The impact of incumbency, that’s still there,” said Stephen Frank, a political science professor at St. Cloud State University and founder of the SCSU Survey. “In some of these races, that may be even more important than party.”

Both Common Cause Minnesota and the Pioneer Press opted for a different methodology in evaluating the partisan indices of various districts. They looked at the outcome of contests for constitutional offices (excluding governor) in 2010 for all 201 newly drawn legislative districts. The gubernatorial contest was left out because the presence of a strong third-party candidate would have skewed the results.

This means of calculating partisan indices has an obvious flaw: It only looks at a single year. As a general rule, a minimum of three election cycles are needed to draw any meaningful conclusions. But the data does yield some interesting insights into the 2012 legislative contests:

• Democrats dominate in the state’s most partisan districts. In the Senate, the 13 safest seats are all held by DFLers; in the House, Democrats occupy seats in the 23 most partisan districts. This reflects DFL dominance in the urban core. Senate District 62, in south Minneapolis, is the most partisan district in the state, with nearly 90 percent of votes in the 2010 constitutional contests going to Democrats.

• There are 16 swing districts in the Senate, meaning the partisan index for neither party is greater than 52 percent (or +4). Of those potential battleground districts, 12 are currently held by Republicans, while just 2 are occupied by DFLers. The other two swing district seats have no incumbent in them, although Sen. Ted Lillie has filed to run in Senate District 53. According to this analysis, Senate District 20 is the most closely contested in the state, with partisan index of 50.14 percent in favor of Republicans.

• There are 27 swing districts in the House. Two-thirds of these seats are currently held by Republicans, including 9 GOP freshmen who are seeking re-election. In four of these districts, there will be primary contests on the DFL side to determine who will be on the November ballot. House Republicans have just one swing district primary.

• There are 10 presumptive Senate newcomers on the safe list. That includes seven Republicans (Dave Osmek or Connie Doepke in 33, Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer in 30, Eric Pratt in 55, Rep. Bruce Anderson in 29, Rep. Branden Petersen in 35, Bill Weber in 22 and Pat Hall in 56) and three Democrats (Melissa Halvorson Wiklund in 50, Rep. Bobby Joe Champion in 59, and Tom Dimond, Foung Hawj, or Robert Humphrey in 67).

• There are 21 presumptive House newcomers on the safe list. That includes 12 Republicans (Jerry Hertaus in 33A, Tony Albright in 55B, David FitzSimmons in 30B, Jim Newberger in 15B, Nicholas Zerwas in 30A, Marion O’Neill in 29B, Mark Anderson in 9A, Brian Wermerskirchen, in 20B, Ron Kresha in 9B, Jeff Howe in 13A, David Collins or Steve Greene in 2B, and Brian Johnson in 32A) and 9 DFLers (Ian Alexander, Terra Cole or Raymond Dehn in 59B, Lorrie Janatopoulos, Jason Metsa or Dave Meyer in 6B, Reid Johnson in 45B, Connie Bernardy in 41A, Peter Fischer or Bob Hill in 43A, Dan Schoen in 54A, Jacob Isaacson in 42B, Joann Ward in 53A and Jerry Newton in 37A).

A complete listing of safe, leaning and swing districts as calculated by Common Cause Minnesota follows.

Minnesota Legislature 2012 Partisan Index

(Source: Calculated by Common Cause Minnesota using 2010 precinct-level data from non-gubernatorial constitutional office races.)


Minnesota Senate (19 GOP / 22 DFL)

1. District 62 88.34% DFL (Jeff Hayden)

2. District 61 79.82% DFL (Scott Dibble)

3. District 65 79.74% DFL (Sandy Pappas)

4. District 63 79.48% DFL (Patricia Torres Ray)

5. District 59 79.38% DFL (Bobby Joe Champion) (Linda Higgins retirement)

6. District 60 79.34% DFL (Kari Dziedzic)

7. District 64 75.13% DFL (Dick Cohen)

8. District 67 70.95% DFL (Primary: Tom Dimond vs. Foung Hawj) vs. Robert Humphrey (John Harrington retirement)

9. District 66 69.76% DFL (John Marty)

10. District 6 67.64% DFL (David Tomassoni)

11. District 7 67.44% DFL (Roger Reinert)

12. District 46 64.96% DFL (Ron Latz)

13. District 40 62.68% DFL (Chris Eaton)

14. District 47 62.15% GOP (Primary: Sen. Julianne Ortman vs. Bruce Schwichtenberg)

15. District 33 61.31% GOP (Primary: David Osmek vs. Connie Doepke) (Gen Olson retirement)

16. District 30 61.07% GOP (Mary Kiffmeyer)

17. District 31 60.31% GOP (Michelle Benson)

18. District 3 60.22% DFL (Tom Bakk)

19. District 45 60.06% DFL (Ann Rest)

20. District 41 59.58% DFL (Barb Goodwin)
21. District 55 59.19% GOP (Eric Pratt) (Claire Robling retirement)

22. District 8 58.94% GOP (Bill Ingebrigtsen)

23. District 50 58.79% DFL (Melissa Halvorson Wiklund) (open seat)

24. District 58 58.59% GOP (Dave Thompson)

25. District 29 58.21% GOP (Bruce Anderson) (Amy Koch retirement)

26. District 34 57.90% GOP (Warren Limmer)

27. District 15 57.19% GOP (Dave Brown)

28. District 35 56.88% GOP (Branden Petersen) (open seat)

29. District 13 56.77% GOP (Michelle Fischbach)

30. District 11 56.75% DFL (Tony Lourey)

31. District 27 56.77% DFL (Dan Sparks)

32. District 9 56.44% GOP (Paul Gazelka)

33. District 43 56.43% DFL (Chuck Wiger)

34. District 18 56.36% GOP (Scott Newman)

35. District 25 56.20% GOP (Dave Senjem)

36. District 52 56.08% DFL (Jim Metzen)

37. District 22 55.58% GOP (Bill Weber) (Doug Magnus retirement)

38. District 19 55.49% DFL (Kathy Sheran)

39. District 32 54.28% GOP (Sean Nienow)

40. District 56 54.71% GOP (Dan Hall)

41. District 26 54.48% GOP (Carla Nelson)


Minnesota House (43 GOP / 45 DFL)


1. District 62B 88.35% DFL (Susan Allen)

2. District 62A 88.32% DFL (Karen Clark)

3. District 63A 84.86% DFL (Jim Davnie)

4. District 65A 82.86% DFL (Rena Moran)

5. District 61A 80.79% DFL (Frank Hornstein)

6. District 59A 79.96% DFL (Joe Mullery)

7. District 60B 79.73% DFL (Phyllis Kahn)

8. District 64A 79.53% DFL (Erin Murphy)

9. District 60A 79.06% DFL (Diane Loeffler)

10. District 61B 78.85% DFL (Paul Thissen)

11. District 59B 78.85% DFL (Primary: Ian Alexander vs. Terra Cole vs. Raymond Dehn) (Rep. Bobby
Joe Champion running for Senate in SD 59)

12. District 65B 77.03% DFL (Carlos Mariani)

13. District 66B 75.17% DFL (John Lesch)

14. District 63B 73.89% DFL (Jean Wagenius)

15. District 64B 71.31% DFL (Michael Paymar)

16. District 67A 71.24% DFL (Tim Mahoney)

17. District 67B 70.69% DFL (Sheldon Johnson)

18. District 7B 69.48% DFL (Kerry Gauthier)

19. District 6A 67.92% DFL (Carly Melin)

20. District 6B 67.39% DFL (Primary: Lorrie Janatopoulos vs. Jason Metsa vs. Dave Meyer) (Rep. Tom Rukavina retirement)

21. District 66A 66.98% DFL (Alice Hausman)

22. District 7A 65.61% DFL (Tom Huntley)

23. District 46B 65.39% DFL (Steve Simon)

24. District 33A 64.70% GOP (Jerry Hertaus)
(Rep. Connie Doepke running in a primary for the SD33 Senate seat)

25. District 55B 64.70% GOP (Primary: Endorsee Tony Albright vs. Tim Jesperson) (Rep. Mark Buegsens retirement)

26. District 46A 64.68% DFL (Ryan Winkler)

27. District 40B 63.35% DFL (Debra Hilstrom)

28. District 30B 63.33% GOP (David FitzSimmons) (open seat)

29. District 47A 63.22% GOP (Ernie Leidiger)

30. District 45B 63.06% DFL (Mike Freiberg) (Rep. Sandra Peterson retirement)

31. District 50A 62.30% DFL (Linda Slocum)

32. District 40A 61.89% DFL (Mike Nelson)

33. District 31A 61.26% GOP (Kurt Daudt)

34. District 41B 61.21% DFL (Carolyn Laine)

35. District 47B 60.96% GOP (Joe Hoppe)

36. District 3B 60.90% DFL (Mary Murphy)

37. District 34A 60.70% GOP (Joyce Peppin)

38. District 15B 60.47% GOP (Jim Newberger) (open seat)

39. District 8A 60.46% GOP (Bud Nornes)

40. District 3A 59.60% DFL (David Dill)

41. District 29A 59.52% GOP (Joe McDonald)

42. District 31B 59.48% GOP (Tom Hackbarth)

43. District 52A 59.41% DFL (Rick Hansen)

44. District 25A 59.37% GOP (Duane Quam)
45. District 26B 59.33% GOP (Mike Benson)

46. District 58A 59.13% GOP (Mary Liz Holberg)

47. District 35B 59.06% GOP (Peggy Scott)

48. District 30A 58.93% GOP (Nicholas Zerwas) (Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer running for Senate in SD30)

49. District 27B 58.66% DFL (Jeanne Poppe)

50. District 13B 58.36% GOP (Tim O’Driscoll)

51. District 58B 58.02% GOP (Pat Garofalo)

52. District 12B 57.99% GOP (Paul Anderson)

53. District 33B 57.94% GOP (Primary: Endorsee Cindy Pugh vs. Rep. Steve Smith)

54. District 41A 57.92% DFL (Connie Bernardy) (Rep. Kate Knuth retirement)

55. District 8B 57.36% GOP (Mary Franson)

56. District 43B 57.15% DFL (Leon Lillie)

57. District 43A 57.15% DFL (Primary: Endorsee Peter Fischer vs. Bob Hill)

58. District 22A 57.06% GOP (Joe Schomacker)

59. District 29B 56.92% GOP (Marion O’Neill) (Rep. Bruce Anderson running for Senate in SD 29)

60. District 18B 56.89% GOP (Glenn Gruenhagen)

61. District 16B 56.88% GOP (Paul Torkelson)

62. District 23A 56.85% GOP (Bob Gunther)

63. District 9A 56.77% GOP (Mark Anderson) (open seat)

64. District 20A 56.66% GOP (Kelby Woodard)

65. District 48B 56.60% GOP (Jenifer Loon)

66. District 45A 56.57% DFL (Lyndon Carlson)

67. District 21B 56.56% GOP (Steve Drazkowski)

68. District 20B 56.35% GOP (Brian Wermerskirchen) (open seat)

69. District 9B 56.11% GOP (Ron Kresha) (Rep. Mike LeMieur retirement)

70. District 54A 55.99% DFL (Dan Schoen) (GOP Rep. John Kriesel retirement)

71. District 42B 55.98% DFL (Jacob Isaacson) (Rep. Bev Scalze running for Senate in SD 42)

72. District 53A 55.98% DFL (JoAnn Ward) (Rep. Nora Slawik retirement)

73. District 56A 55.88% GOP (Pam Myhra)

74. District 18A 55.87% GOP (Dean Urdahl)

75. District 50B 55.85% DFL (Ann Lenczewski)

76. District 19B 55.65% DFL (Kathy Brynaert)

77. District 19A 55.36% DFL (Terry Morrow)

78. District 13A 55.33% GOP (Jeff Howe) (DFL Rep. Larry Hosch retirement)

79. District 34B 55.25% GOP (Kurt Zellers)

80. District 27A 55.20% GOP (Rich Murray)

81. District 37A 54.55% DFL (Jerry Newton) (open seat)

82. District 55A 54.55% GOP (Mike Beard)

83. District 2B 54.49% GOP (Primary: David Collins vs. Steve Green) (open seat)

84. District 10A 54.44% DFL (John Ward)

85. District 32B 54.37% GOP (Bob Barrett) (open seat)

86. District 35A 54.36% GOP (Jim Abeler)

87. District 38A 54.33% GOP (Linda Runbeck)

88. District 32A 54.19% GOP (Brian Johnson)


Minnesota Senate (7 GOP / 3 DFL)

1. District 42 53.88% DFL (DFL Rep. Bev Scalze vs. April King) (open seat)

2. District 23 53.47% GOP (GOP incumbent Julie Rosen vs. Paul Marquardt)

3. District 12 53.45% GOP (GOP Rep. Torrey Westrom vs. John Schultz) (open seat)

4. District 38 53.31% GOP (GOP incumbent Roger Chamberlain vs. Tim Henderson)

5. District 16 53.21% GOP (GOP incumbent Gary Dahms vs. Ted Suss)
6. District 48 53.10% GOP (GOP incumbent David Hann vs. Laurie McKendry)

7. District 54 52.96% DFL (DFL incumbent Katie Sieben vs. Janis Quinlan)

8. District 5 52.51% DFL (DFL incumbent Tom Saxhaug vs. GOP incumbent John Carlson)

9. District 2 52.44% GOP (DFL incumbent Rod Skoe vs. Dennis Moser)

10. District 21 52.26% GOP (GOP incumbent John Howe vs. Matt Schmidt)

Minnesota House (10 GOP / 9 DFL)


1. District 44A 53.98% GOP (GOP incumbent Sarah Anderson vs. Audrey Britton)

2. District 53B 53.93% DFL (GOP incumbent Andrea Kieffer vs. Ann Marie Metzger)

3. District 15A 53.82% GOP (GOP incumbent Sondra Erickson vs. Joe Walsh)

4. District 22B 53.78% GOP (GOP incumbent Rod Hamilton vs. Cheryl Avenel-Navara)

5. District 56B 53.65% GOP (open seat) (GOP Roz Peterson vs. DFL Will Morgan) (Mary Liz Holberg running in 58A)

6. District 28B 53.46% GOP ( GOP incumbent Greg Davids vs. Ken Tschumper)

7. District 17A 53.29% DFL (DFL incumbent Andrew Falk vs. Tim Miller)

8. District 25B 53.07% DFL (DFL incumbent Kim Norton vs. Melissa Valeriano)

9. District 5B 53.03% DFL (DFL incumbent Tom Anzelc vs. GOP incumbent Carolyn McElfatrick)

10. District 36A 52.71% DFL (DFL Grace Baltich vs. GOP Mark Uglem) (Denise Dittrich retirement) (open seat)

11. District 14A 52.69% GOP (GOP incumbent Steve Gottwalt vs. Anne Nolan)

12. District 52B 52.61% DFL (DFL incumbent Joe Atkins vs. Paul Tuschy)

13. District 51A 52.59% GOP (GOP incumbent Diane Anderson vs. winner of Sandra Masin / Milton Walden DFL primary)

14. District 24A 52.45% GOP (Winner of Larry Johnson vs. John Petersburg GOP primary vs. DFL Craig Brenden) (Kory Kath retirement)

15. District 38B 52.41% GOP (GOP incumbent Matt Dean vs. Greg Pariseau)

16. District 4A 52.33% GOP (Winner of GOP primary [Ken Lucier vs. Travis Reimche vs. Benjamin Larson] vs. winner of DFL primary [endorsee Ben Lien vs. Sue Wiger]) (Morrie Lanning retirement)

17. District 57B 52.22% GOP (GOP Anna Wills vs. Jeff Wilfahrt) (Kurt Bills running for U.S. Senate)

18. District 44B 52.13% DFL (DFL incumbent John Benson vs. Mark Stefan)

19. District 26A 52.02% DFL (DFL incumbent Tina Liebling vs. Breanna Bly)

Minnesota Senate (16)


1. District 10 52% GOP (GOP endorsee Carrie Ruud vs. winner of Taylor Stevenson/Anne Marcotte DFL primary)

2. District 51 51.88% DFL (GOP incumbent Ted Daley vs. Jim Carlson)

3. District 57 51.87% GOP (Winner of GOP primary [endorsee Pat Hall vs.Tim Gold] vs. winner of DFL primary [Greg Clausen vs. Mike Germain]) (Chris Gerlach retirement)

4. District 17 51.71% DFL (GOP incumbent Joe Gimse vs. winner of Lyle Koenen/Larry Rice DFL primary)

5. District 37 51.52% DFL (GOP incumbent Pam Wolf vs. Alice Johnson)

6. District 28 51.37% GOP (GOP incumbent Jeremy Miller vs. Jack Krage)

7. District 4 51.06% DFL (DFL Rep. Kent Eken vs. Phil Hansen) (Keith Langseth retirement)

8. District 36 50.98% GOP (GOP incumbent Benjamin Kruse vs. John Hoffman)
9. District 53 50.93% DFL (GOP incumbent Ted Lillie vs. Susan Kent)

10. District 44 50.81% GOP (DFL incumbent Terri Bonoff vs. David Gaither)

11. District 24 50.79% GOP (GOP endorsee Vern Swedin vs. Vicki Jensen) (Mike Parry retirement)

12. District 49 50.68% DFL (GOP Rep. Keith Downey vs. Melisa Franzen) (Geoff Michel retirement)

13. District 1 50.56% GOP (DFL incumbent Leroy Stumpf vs. winner of Jual Carlson vs. Steve Nordhagen GOP primary)

14. District 14 50.50% GOP (GOP incumbent John Pederson vs. Jerry McCarter)

15. District 39 50.33% GOP (GOP incumbent Ray Vandeveer vs. Julie Bunn)

16. District 20 50.14% GOP (GOP endorsee Michel Dudley vs. Kevin Dahle) (open seat)


Minnesota House (27)


1. District 14B 51.98% GOP (GOP incumbent King Banaian vs. Zach Dorholt)

2. District 5A 51.90% GOP (GOP incumbent Larry Howes vs. DFL incumbent John Persell)

3. District 42A 51.85% DFL (DFL Barb Yarusso vs. GOP Russ Bertsch) (open seat)

4. District 1A 51.83% GOP (GOP incumbent Dan Fabian vs. Bruce Patterson)

5. District 21A 51.67% GOP (GOP incumbent Tim Kelly vs. John Bacon)

6. District 37B 51.57% GOP (Winner of primary between GOP incumbent Tim Sanders / Torey Hall vs. Jon Chlebeck)

7. District 57A 51.49% DFL (GOP incumbent Tara Mack vs. Roberta Gibbons)

8. District 51B 51.25% DFL (GOP incumbent Doug Wardlow vs. Laurie Halverson)

9. District 24B 51.12% GOP (DFL incumbent Patti Fritz vs. Dan Kaiser)

10. District 11B 51.10% DFL (Winner of DFL primary [Tim Faust vs. Nathan Johnson] vs. winner of GOP primary [Mitch Pangerl vs. Ben Wiener] (open seat)

11. District 39A 51.07% GOP (GOP incumbent Bob Dettmer vs. John Bruno)

12. District 28A 51.07% DFL (DFL incumbent Gene Pelowski vs. Adam Pace)

13. District 49B 50.89% DFL DFL Paul Rosenthal vs. GOP Terry Jacobson) (Pat Mazorol retirement)

14. District 1B 50.88% GOP (GOP incumbent Deb Kiel vs. Marc DeMers)

15. District 36B 50.81% DFL (DFL incumbent Melissa Hortman vs.
Andrew Reinhardt)

16. District 39B 50.80% GOP (GOP incumbent Kathy Lohmer vs. Tom DeGree)

17. District 49A 50.49% GOP (GOP Bill Glahn vs. DFL Ron Erhardt) (Keith Downey running for Senate in SD49)

18. District 11A 50.47% GOP (GOP Jim Putnam vs. winner of Bruce Ahlgren vs. Mike Sundin DFL primary) (open seat)

19. District 12A 50.47% GOP (GOP Scott Dutcher vs. DFL Jay
McNamar) (Torrey Westrom running for Senate in SD12)

20. District 2A 50.46% GOP (GOP incumbent Dave Hancock vs. Roger Erickson)

21. District 16A 50.41% GOP (GOP incumbent Chris Swedzinski vs. Al Kruse)

22. District 54B 50.27% GOP (GOP incumbent Denny McNamara vs. Joanna Bayers)

23. District 48A 50.22% GOP (GOP incumbent Kirk Stensrud vs. Yvonne Selcer)

24. District 10B 50.20% DFL (Winner of Joe Radinovich vs. David Schaaf DFL primary vs. Dale Lueck) (open seat)

25. District 23B 50.10% GOP (GOP incumbent Tony Cornish running unopposed)

26. District 17B 50.10% GOP (GOP incumbent Bruce Vogel vs. winner of Mary Sawatzky vs. Jessica Rohloff DFL primary)

27. District 4B 50.05% DFL (DFL incumbent Paul Marquart vs. Paul Sandman)

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