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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

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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