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Election Profile: Wisconsin's 8th 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 sixteenth profile in the series is Wisconsin's 8th Congressional District race.

Candidates:
Democrat: Steven L. Kagen (1-term incumbent)
Republican: John Gard

District Geography:
Wisconsin's 8th Congressional District comprises the north-eastern counties of Brown, Door, Florence, Forest, Kewaunee, Marinette, Menominee, Oconto, Outagamie, Shawano, Vilas, Waupaca, and parts of Langlade and Oneida counties.

History:
Kagen won the 8th District's open-seat race in 2006 by 2.1 points over Republican John Gard, who is seeking a rematch in 2008. Four-term Republican Mark Green had held the seat before his failed 2006 gubernatorial candidacy in the Badger State. In fact, Republicans had won the 8th District in 13 of the previous 14 election cycles, dating back to 1978, with the only Democratic victory during that span coming in 1996 (Jay W. Johnson, by 4.1 points). The GOP had an average margin of victory of 30.8 points in those 13 races.

Kagen, a physician, serves on the House Committee on Agriculture and the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.

John Gard, a former Wisconsin State Assembly Speaker, is the GOP's lone chance for a pickup in 2008 in Wisconsin. Gard has pledged never to ask for an earmark if elected to Congress, as well as pledged never to vote for an income tax increase. Gard also supports drilling in Alaska, constructing a border fence, and denying healthcare benefits to illegal aliens.

Outlook:
From 1978 to 2004, only 3 of the 14 elections in the 8th District were decided by less than 10 points. The 2008 edition of Gard vs. Kagen may not be quite as close as 2006, but it is the easy favorite to be the most competitive U.S. House contest in the Badger State. Polling in early October suggests the district is leaning towards both Barack Obama and Kagen in their respective matchups, and highly disapproves of President Bush's job performance (26 percent, SurveyUSA), despite voting for Bush by a 55 to 44 percent margin over John Kerry in 2004. Bush's approval rating was 33 percent two years ago when Kagen defeated Gard.

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2 Comments


  • Please tell me how we are going to pay for the new deficit? Also, I don't want HR45 to pass

  • Hey,hey hey . . . what about those of us in Calumet County who are also a part of the 8th Congressional District? Don't count us out!

  • Leave a comment


    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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