After losing thirteen seats in the Minnesota State House in 2004, the republicans hold a slim 68-66 advantage over their rival DFL. Even if one puts aside the fact that the state (and national) climate is trending democratic in recent months, the GOP is already in a disadvantaged position to make gains come Election Day. The reason: the number of GOP-controlled seats that are in competitive and open districts (34) is greater than those controlled by the DFL (26). In short, there are more vulnerable republican seats than DFL seats.
More than one quarter (37) of the Gopher state’s 134 house races are in ‘competitive’ districts—more than Iowa (15 of 100 districts) and Wisconsin (15 of 99 districts) combined. (‘Competitive’ districts are classified as those decided by ten points or less in the previous election cycle). Of these 37 competitive districts, the GOP holds 21 and the DFL 16. Twenty-three districts in Minnesota are classified as ‘very competitive’—decided by 5 points or less in 2004, while 14 are ‘competitive’—decided by between 5 and 10 points.
Republicans are also at a disadvantage in that they are forced to defend 13 of the 23 open district races in 2006.
As a result, there are more DFL incumbents running for re-election (56) for the State House than republicans (55), despite the DFL being the minority party.
On top of these obstacles, the Republican Party’s problems are compounded by the current trend in Party ID within the state: according to a series a monthly polls released by SurveyUSA, the percentage of Minnesotans who identify themselves as democrats has risen from 30 percent to 39 percent from May 2005 to October 2006, while the percentage identifying themselves as republican has dropped from 35 percent to 27 percent during this span.