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Election Profile: Wisconsin's 3rd 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 eleventh profile in the series is Wisconsin's 3rd Congressional District race.

Candidates:
Democrat: Ronald Kind (6-term incumbent)
Republican: Paul Stark
Libertarian: Kevin Barrett

District Geography:
Wisconsin's 3rd Congressional District follows the Mississippi and St. Croix River counties from the southern border of the state almost to Lake Superior. It encompasses the counties of: Buffalo, Crawford, Dunn, Eau Claire, Grant, Iowa, Jackson, Juneau, La Crosse, Lafayette, Monroe, Pepin, Pierce, Richland, St. Croix, Trempealeau, Vernon and parts of Clark and Sauk counties.

History:
Kind was elected to represent the 3rd District in 1996 filling the open seat left by eight-term GOP congressman Steven Gunderson. Kind beat his GOP counterpart in that election, James E. Harsdorf, by 4.2 points. Since then Kind has capitalized on his incumbency advantage - winning by 43.1 points over Troy A. Brechler in 1998, 27.8 points over Susan Tully in 2000, 29.3 points over Bill Arndt in 2002, 12.9 points over Dale W. Schultz in 2004, and 29.7 points over Paul R. Nelson in 2006.

Kind serves on the Ways and Means Committee as well as the Natural Resources Committee.

Republican Paul Stark, owner of a construction company in Eau Claire, is running with traditional conservative messages: supporting a pro-life (anti-stem cell research) agenda, securing the borders, making English the official language of the United States, supporting education vouchers for school choice, simplifying the tax code, reducing federal spending, and continuing the fight against fanatical Islam.

Libertarian Kevin Barrett, a former lecturer at UW-Madison, gained national attention in 2006 for his views on calling for a new 9/11 investigation (Barrett converted to Islam in 1993). Libertarian candidates have previously run in the 3rd District just two times: in 2002 (3.2 percent) and 1982 (0.6 percent).

Outlook:
Kind's 3rd District is Democratic country. Thirteen of the seventeen counties that are completely enveloped in the district voted for Kerry in 2004: Buffalo (by 6.6 points), Crawford (11.5 points), Dunn (5.1 points), Eau Claire (9.7 points), Grant (2.6 points), Iowa (14.4 points), Jackson (8.9 points), La Crosse (7.9 points), Lafayette (5.7 points), Pepin (8.0 points), Pierce (3.4 points), Trempealeau (15.6 points), and Vernon (7.8 points). Only Juneau (6.0 points), Monroe (7.2 points), Richland (3.5 points), and St. Croix (9.3 points) counties voted for Bush. Kind's string of consecutive double-digit victory margins will therefore likely hit six straight elections.

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Remains of the Data

No Free Passes: States With 2 Major Party Candidates in Every US House Race

Indiana has now placed candidates from both major parties on the ballot in a nation-best 189 consecutive U.S. House races, with New Hampshire, Minnesota, Idaho, and Montana also north of 100 in a row.

Political Crumbs

Gubernatorial Highs and Lows

Two sitting governors currently hold the record for the highest gubernatorial vote ever received in their respective states by a non-incumbent: Republican Matt Mead of Wyoming (65.7 percent in 2010) and outgoing GOPer Dave Heineman of Nebraska (73.4 percent in 2006). Republican Gary Herbert of Utah had not previously won a gubernatorial contest when he notched a state record 64.1 percent for his first victory in 2010, but was an incumbent at the time after ascending to the position in 2009 after the early departure of Jon Huntsman. Meanwhile, two sitting governors hold the record in their states for the lowest mark ever recorded by a winning gubernatorial candidate (incumbent or otherwise): independent-turned-Democrat Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island (36.1 percent in 2010) and Democrat Terry McAuliffe of Virginia (47.8 percent in 2013).


An Idaho Six Pack

Two-term Idaho Republican Governor Butch Otter only polled at 39 percent in a recent PPP survey of the state's 2014 race - just four points ahead of Democratic businessman A.J. Balukoff. Otter's low numbers reflect his own struggles as a candidate (witness his weak primary win against State Senator Russ Fulcher) combined with the opportunity for disgruntled Idahoans to cast their votes for one of four third party and independent candidates, who collectively received the support of 12 percent of likely voters: Libertarian John Bujak, the Constitution Party's Steve Pankey, and independents Jill Humble and Pro-Life (aka Marvin Richardson). The six candidate options in a gubernatorial race sets an all-time record in the Gem State across the 46 elections conducted since statehood. The previous high water mark of five candidates was reached in seven previous cycles: 1902, 1904, 1908, 1912, 1914, 1966, and 2010.


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