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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

    Who Has Won the Most Votes in US Senate Electoral History?

    Only three of the Top 10 and nine of the Top 50 vote-getters of all time are currently serving in the chamber.

    Political Crumbs

    Six for Thirteen

    Collin Peterson remarked last month that he is leaning to run for reelection to Minnesota's 7th Congressional District in 2016. If he does and is victorious, he will creep even closer to the top of the list of the longest-serving U.S. Representatives in Minnesota history. The DFL congressman is only the sixth Minnesotan to win at least 13 terms to the U.S. House of the 135 elected to the chamber in state history. Peterson trails 18-term DFLer Jim Oberstar (1975-2011), 16-term Republicans Harold Knutson (1917-1949) and August Andresen (1925-1933; 1935-1958), and 14-term DFLers Martin Sabo (1979-2007) and John Blatnik (1947-1974). Andresen died in office, Sabo and Blatnik retired, and Knutson and Oberstar were defeated at the ballot box in 1948 and 2010 respectively. At 70 years, 7 months, 11 days through Monday, Peterson is currently the ninth oldest Gopher State U.S. Representative in history. DFLer Rick Nolan of the 8th CD is the seventh oldest at 71 years, 1 month, 23 days.


    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.


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