Thursday, November 6, 2014

How the U.S. Mid-Term Elections Turned Out in the Mississippi River Basin

The nation's long electoral marathon is over, a minority (36.6%) of the voting population having spoken (early indications from various regions indicate that Gallup polling predictions of low enthusiasm were proven right). Those who were inspired to vote gave control of the U.S. Senate to Republicans, while the Republican majority in the House grew by a baker's dozen (presently, several House races, two Senate races and one Governor's race are too close to call).  Below is an overview of the Congressional and gubernatorial election results in the Mississippi River states, along with a snapshot of key races elsewhere in the River Basin. (Ed. note: There are 734 days until the 2016 elections).

Minnesota - Al Franken (D) successfully retained his Senate seat with ease, collecting 53.2 percent of the vote. In House races, incumbents were returned to Washington except in Minnesota's 6th district, where Republican Tom Emmer won the seat vacated by Michele Bachmann (R).  One of those incumbents, Minnesota’s most senior member of Congress, Collin Peterson (D), won his 13th term.

Wisconsin - In House races, incumbents were reelected except in Wisconsin's open 6th district race, where Republican Glenn Grotham succeeds the more moderate Tom Petri (R). Incumbent Governor Scott Walker (R) was reelected with 52.3 percent of the vote.

Iowa - Joni Ernst (R) easily defeated Rep. Bruce Braley (D) in the race for Iowa's U.S. Senate seat, becoming the first woman sent by that state to Congress.  Governor Terry Branstad (R) was handily reelected to an historic sixth term.  Rod Blum (R) won Iowa's first district House seat, and David Young (R) won in the third district in the two Iowa House seats where no incumbent was running. Young was previously a long time aid to U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley (R).  In the other two Iowa districts, incumbents won reelection. 

Illinois - For the first time in 70 years, a Republican will represent most of Southern Illinois in the U.S. House, as incumbent Bruce Enyart (D) was defeated by Mike Bost (R) in the 12th district race. The only Mississippi River-bordered Illinois district now held by a Democrat is the 17th District, where Cheri Bustos easily retained her seat, defeating Republican Bobby Schilling for the second straight election. Incumbent Brad Schneider (D-10th district) lost to to Republican Bob Dold in that Chicago region race (partially within the Illinois River basin). Elsewhere across the state, incumbents held onto their seats, including Senator Dick Durbin (D), who was reelected to a fourth term. The Illinois Governor's mansion changed hands, as incumbent Pat Quinn (D) lost to Republican Bruce Rauner.

Missouri - There were no Senate or Gubernatorial races in the state, and each of the eight House incumbents retained their seats.

Kentucky - Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) was easily reelected to his U.S. Senate seat, and will become that chamber's Majority Leader in the 114th Congress when it convenes in January. He defeated Allison Grimes (D) in a closely-watched race that in the end was not very close, with McConnell winning by more than 200,000 votes.  All of Kentucky's House incumbents will return to their seats, and the state retained its nearly-red colored House map; the only Democratic House member being John Yarmuth from the state's 3rd district, serving Louisville and bordering the Ohio River.

Tennessee - Lamar Alexander (R) easily retained his U.S. Senate seat with nearly 62 percent of voters agreeing to return him to Washington.  All nine of Tennessee's House members were reelected to serve in the 114th Congress.  Republican Governor Bill Haslam was reelected in what can only be called a "landslide" victory, winning with 70.3 percent of the vote

Arkansas - For the first time in 141 years, Arkansas will not have a Democrat in its congressional delegation.  The 1st and 3rd House districts in Arkansas saw incumbents running for reelection, and Rick Crawford (R) and Steve Womack (R), respectively, were handily reelected to serve those districts. Arkansas' 2nd district seat was narrowly won by French Hill (R), who will succeed Rep. Tim Griffin (R).  Griffin did not seek reelection. Bruce Westerman won the Arkansas 4th district race to succeed Tom Cotton (R), who ran for and was elected to the U.S. Senate over incumbent Sen. Mark Pryor (D).  Republican Asa Hutchinson was elected Governor in an open race, defeating fellow ex-House Member Mike Ross (D).

Mississippi - Sen. Thad Cochran (R) won reelection to the Senate for a seventh term, and will very likely chair that chamber's Appropriations Committee.  All of Mississippi's House incumbents were reelected.

Louisiana - As anticipated, none of the three major Senate candidates running in Louisiana captured 50 percent or more of the votes, and the election battle between the top two vote-getters - incumbent MaryLandrieu (D) and her challenger Rep Bill Cassidy (R) - will end in a December 6 runoff election.  The races for the 5th and 6th House districts are also headed to December 6 runoffs, after candidates in those elections split the vote Tuesday.  Incumbents were returned to their seats in the other Louisiana House districts.

Elsewhere in the River Basin - Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) defeated a challenge from independent Greg Orman, dashing perhaps the only real Democratic hope to pick up a Republican Senate seat. Roberts is in line to chair the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, & Forestry Committee in the next Congress.  Incumbent James J. Inhofe (R-Okla.) easily won reelection, and is poised to become Chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in the next Congress.  The conservative Inhofe has said he's a big spender on only two issues: infrastructure and defense.

Republican Shelley Moore Capito was the winner of the open West Virginia U.S. Senate race, as were Republicans Steve Daines (Montana) and Mike Rounds, South Dakota), in those open races.

Incumbents Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.), Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) and Governor Tom Corbett (R-Pa.) were defeated in their respective races. Rahall was defeated by Evan Jenkins (R). Udall lost to Cory Gardner.  And Corbett was beaten by Democrat Tom Wolf.  Rahall was Ranking Member on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and played a key role in several major bills coming out of that Committee recently, including the 2012 highway and transit reauthorization bill, and the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA), earlier this year.

Finally, North Dakota voters soundly defeated a ballot measure Tuesday that would have set aside oil and gas tax revenue for land conservation efforts in that oil-rich state..

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