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Election Profile: Iowa's 1st Congressional District (2008)

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Smart Politics is running a series of election profiles of all the Upper Midwestern U.S. Senate and U.S. House races leading up to the November 4th elections. The series will culminate with Smart Politics' official projections. The third profile in the series is Iowa's 1st Congressional District race.

Candidates:
Democrat: Bruce Braley (1-term incumbent)
Republican: David Hartsuch

District Geography:
Iowa's 1st Congressional District comprises twelve eastern counties: Black Hawk, Bremer, Buchanan, Butler, Clayton, Clinton, Delaware, Dubuque, Fayette, Jackson, Jones, and Scott.

History:
Braley, an attorney, turned a Congressional district that had voted Republican by double-digit margins in 2004 (11.9 points) and 2002 (14.6) into a double-digit Democratic pick-up in 2006 (11.9 points). Braley helped bring about the first Democratic majority in Iowa's delegation to the U.S. House since 1976.

Braley serves on the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and the Committee on Small Business. He is also chairman of the Subcommittee on Contracting and Technology.

Hartsuch, a physician and State Senator, won his District 41 seat by 1.9 points in 2006 after successfully challenging an 18-year Republican incumbent in the primary.

Outlook:
Braley has more than the incumbency advantage on his side in his first defense of his U.S. House seat. Iowa has been a strong supporter of Barack Obama's presidential bid throughout his campaign, as has Braley's 1st Congressional District, which should give the freshman Representative an additional boost down the ticket. Obama carried 10 of the 12 1st CD counties during the Democratic caucuses back in January (Obama came in second in Fayette County and third in Butler County).

Previous post: Election Profile: South Dakota U.S. Senate
Next post: Upper Midwest Delegation Votes 6-2 As $700 Billion Financial Industry Bailout Sails Through Senate

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Political Crumbs

Strike Three for Miller-Meeks

Iowa Republicans had a banner day on November 4th, picking up both a U.S. Senate seat and one U.S. House seat, but Mariannette Miller-Meeks' defeat in her third attempt to oust Democrat Dave Loebsack in the 2nd CD means the GOP will not have a monopoly on the state's congressional delegation in the 114th Congress. The loss by Miller-Meeks (following up her defeats in 2008 and 2010) means major party nominees who lost their first two Iowa U.S. House races are now 0 for 10 the third time around in Iowa history. Miller-Meeks joins Democrat William Leffingwell (1858, 1868, 1870), Democrat Anthony Van Wagenen (1894, 1912 (special), 1912), Democrat James Murtagh (1906, 1914, 1916), Democrat Clair Williams (1944, 1946, 1952), Democrat Steven Carter (1948, 1950, 1956), Republican Don Mahon (1966, 1968, 1970), Republican Tom Riley (1968, 1974, 1976), Democrat Eric Tabor (1986, 1988, 1990), and Democrat Bill Gluba (1982, 1988, 2004) on the Hawkeye State's Three Strikes list.


Larry Pressler Wins the Silver

Larry Pressler may have fallen short in his long-shot, underfunded, and understaffed bid to return to the nation's upper legislative chamber, but he did end up notching the best showing for a non-major party South Dakota U.S. Senate candidate in more than 90 years. Pressler won 17.1 percent of the vote which is the best showing for an independent or third party U.S. Senate candidate in the state since 1920 when non-partisan candidate Tom Ayres won 24.1 percent in a race won by Republican Peter Norbeck. Overall, Pressler's 17.1 percent is good for the second best mark for a non-major party candidate across the 35 U.S. Senate contests in South Dakota history. Independent and third party candidates have appeared on the South Dakota U.S. Senate ballot just 25 times over the last century and only three have reached double digits: Pressler in 2014 and Ayres in 1920 and 1924 (12.1 percent). Pressler's defeat means he won't become the oldest candidate elected to the chamber in South Dakota history nor notch the record for the longest gap in service in the direct election era.


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