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Election Profile: Wisconsin's 5th 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 thirteenth profile in the series is Wisconsin's 5th Congressional District race.

Candidates:
Republican: F. James Sensenbrenner (15-term incumbent)
Independent: Robert R. Raymond

District Geography:
Wisconsin's 5th Congressional District comprises the eastern counties of Ozaukee and Washington, along with parts of Jefferson, Waukesha, and Milwaukee counties.

History:
Sensenbrenner was first elected to Congress in 1978 from what was then Wisconsin's 9th District, winning the open seat of 2-term GOP congressman Robert Kasten. Sensenbrenner beat Democrat Matthew J. Flynn by 22.3 points in the first of his 15 consecutive victories. Twelve of those victories came in the 9th District, with an average margin of victory of 62.8 points (Democrats failed to field a candidate in 4 of those races). Democrats also failed to challenge Sensenbrenner in 2002 in the newsly drawn 5th District, when he won by 72.8 points over (2008 challenger) Independent candidate Robert Raymond. Sensenbrenner defeated Democrat Bryan Kennedy in 2004 by 34.8 points and in 2006 by 26.1 points - his smallest margin of victory in his 30 years running for Congress.

Sensenbrenner is a member of the Committee on the Judiciary, the Committee on Science and Technology, and the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming (Ranking Member).

Democrats have failed to field a candidate against Sensenbrenner again in 2008 - for the 6th time in 16 elections.

Independent candidate Robert R. Raymond will be on the ballot for the third time in the 5th District: he came in fourth place with 1.1 percent in 2006 and second place (out of two candidates) in 2002 with 13.3 percent.

Outlook:
It is somewhat surprising the Democrats could not field a candidate in 2008 - two years after Sensenbrenner faced his stiffest competition to date. But the fact of the matter is Sensenbrenner has been as assured to win reelection as any candidate in the Upper Midwest during the past three decades, even when he faces a major party challenger.

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Remains of the Data

Plurality-Winning Governors Elected At Century-Long High Water Mark

The rate of gubernatorial candidates elected without the support of a majority of voters is at its highest level since the 1910s.

Political Crumbs

Seeing Red

Congressman Nick Rahall's failed bid for a 20th term in West Virginia this cycle, combined with a narrow loss by Nick Casey to Alex Mooney in Shelley Moore Capito's open seat, means that West Virginia Democrats will be shut out of the state's U.S. House delegation for the first time in over 90 years. The Republican sweep by two-term incumbent David McKinley in the 1st CD, Mooney in the 2nd, and Evan Jenkins over Rahall in the 3rd marks the first time the GOP has held all seats in the chamber from West Virginia since the Election of 1920. During the 67th Congress (1921-1923) all six seats from the state were controlled by the GOP. Since the Election of 1922, Democrats have won 76 percent of all U.S. House elections in the Mountain State - capturing 172 seats compared to 54 for the GOP.


Home Field Advantage?

When the 114th Congress convenes in a few days, Maine will be represented by one home-grown U.S. Representative: Waterville-born Republican Bruce Poliquin. With the departure of Millinocket-born Mike Michaud, who launched a failed gubernatorial bid, the Pine Tree State was poised to send a House delegation to D.C. without any Maine-born members for the first time since 1821. Three-term U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree (born in Minnesota) coasted to reelection as expected, however Poliquin edged Kentucky-born Emily Cain by 5.3 points to keep the streak alive. Since 1876, a total of 208 of the 222 candidates elected to the nation's lower legislative chamber from the state have been born in Maine, or 94 percent.


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