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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

    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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