Go to HHH home page.
Smart Politics
 


Wisconsin's Current Congressional District Maps 2nd Least Competitive in State History

Bookmark and Share

In the third in a series of reports on the association between redistricting and the lack of competitive U.S. House contests in the Upper Midwest, a Smart Politics analysis of Wisconsin election returns finds its current congressional district maps to be the second least competitive in state history.

The first report in the series found Minnesota's current congressional maps to have produced the third lowest percentage of competitive U.S. House races - those decided by less than 10 points - in a study of nearly 550 general election contests across 16 decades (5 of 32 contests since 2002, 15.6 percent).

The second report in the series found Iowa's current congressional maps to have generated the fifth lowest percentage of competitive races across 17 decades of congressional district maps and more than 630 general election U.S. House contests (4 of 20 races since 2002, 20.0 percent).

In Wisconsin, only 6.3 percent of U.S. House elections since 2002 have been decided by less than 10 points (2 of 32 contests). Both of these races were held in the state's 8th CD, in 2006 and 2008, in a district currently represented by Democratic Congressman Steven Kagen. Only one other period in Badger State history has produced a lower percentage of competitive races - 1982-1990 - when just 4.4 percent were decided by less than 10 points (2 of 45).

However, this recent lack of competitiveness in U.S. House elections has not been the tradition across the 17 decades of Congressional elections in Wisconsin. Overall, 25.1 percent (181) of the state's 720 general election U.S. House contests since statehood have been competitive.

The peak period of competitiveness occurred from 1872-1880, when the state had the same number of districts as it has today - eight. During that span, 19 of 40 races, or 47.5 percent, were decided by less than 10 points. Even though this was a period of dominance by the Republican Party, which won 27 seats to just 13 for the Democrats, there were very few blow-out races - with only 3 contests out of 40 decided by more than 30 points across these five election cycles.

By contrast, there have been 17 blow-out U.S. House races in Wisconsin since 2002, with 3 races decided by more than 30 points in 2008 alone.

Other periods with very competitive district maps were 1852-1860 and 1882-1890 when 46.7 percent of races were decided by less than 10 points during each census period.

But competitive races in Wisconsin are not simply a relic of the 19th Century. The 1930s were a particularly robust period for the state's democratic processes - with the influx of the Progressive Party. From 1932 to 1940, 38 percent of the state's Congressional races were competitive (19 of 50). During that period, Progressives won 19 U.S. House seats, Republicans won 19 seats, and Democrats won 12.

Wisconsin's current district maps have also produced the third largest average margin of victory in the state's 17 decades of congressional elections. Since 2002, the average margin of victory for U.S. House races in the Badger State has been a whopping 40.4 points - much higher than Minnesota's 27.5 points and Iowa's 15.9 points during this span.

The only periods in Wisconsin that produced larger average margin of victories were 1922-1930 (54.6 points) and 1982-1990 (45.7 points).

And even though the latter part of the 20th century has not produced an exceedingly high percentage of competitive races, the average margin of victory was much lower under previous congressional district maps than it is today (40.4 points). The average margin of victory was 28.0 points from 1942-1950, 23.4 points from 1952-1960, 25.2 points from 1962-1970, 30.6 points from 1972-1980, and 31.3 points from 1992-2000.

Competitiveness in Wisconsin U.S. House Elections Since Statehood by Congressional District Map

Period
Seats
Competitive races
Percent competitive
MoV
2002-2008
8
2
6.3
40.4
1992-2000
9
10
22.2
31.3
1982-1990
9
2
4.4
45.7
1972-1980
9
8
17.8
30.6
1962-1970
10
9
18.0
25.2
1952-1960
10
12
24.0
23.4
1942-1950
10
11
22.0
28.0
1932-1940
10
19
38.0
13.4
1922-1930
11
7
12.7
54.6
1912-1920
11
16
29.1
26.4
1902-1910
11
16
29.1
21.2
1892-1900
10
15
30.0
18.0
1882-1890
9
21
46.7
11.9
1872-1880
8
19
47.5
12.3
1862-1870
6
5
16,7
17.6
1852-1860
3
7
46.7
12.6
1848-1850
3*
2
25.0
15.3
* Wisconsin held elections for two U.S. House districts in May of 1848, three in November of 1848 and three in 1850. Data compiled by Smart Politics.

Follow Smart Politics on Twitter.

Previous post: Which States Do Presidents Come From? (Not Minnesota, Yet)
Next post: Former MN GOP Congressman Weber Outlines National Security Challenges Facing President Obama

Leave a comment


Remains of the Data

Is There a Presidential Drag On Gubernatorial Elections?

Only five of the 20 presidents to serve since 1900 have seen their party win a majority of gubernatorial elections during their administrations, and only one since JFK.

Political Crumbs

Strike Three for Miller-Meeks

Iowa Republicans had a banner day on November 4th, picking up both a U.S. Senate seat and one U.S. House seat, but Mariannette Miller-Meeks' defeat in her third attempt to oust Democrat Dave Loebsack in the 2nd CD means the GOP will not have a monopoly on the state's congressional delegation in the 114th Congress. The loss by Miller-Meeks (following up her defeats in 2008 and 2010) means major party nominees who lost their first two Iowa U.S. House races are now 0 for 10 the third time around in Iowa history. Miller-Meeks joins Democrat William Leffingwell (1858, 1868, 1870), Democrat Anthony Van Wagenen (1894, 1912 (special), 1912), Democrat James Murtagh (1906, 1914, 1916), Democrat Clair Williams (1944, 1946, 1952), Democrat Steven Carter (1948, 1950, 1956), Republican Don Mahon (1966, 1968, 1970), Republican Tom Riley (1968, 1974, 1976), Democrat Eric Tabor (1986, 1988, 1990), and Democrat Bill Gluba (1982, 1988, 2004) on the Hawkeye State's Three Strikes list.


Larry Pressler Wins the Silver

Larry Pressler may have fallen short in his long-shot, underfunded, and understaffed bid to return to the nation's upper legislative chamber, but he did end up notching the best showing for a non-major party South Dakota U.S. Senate candidate in more than 90 years. Pressler won 17.1 percent of the vote which is the best showing for an independent or third party U.S. Senate candidate in the state since 1920 when non-partisan candidate Tom Ayres won 24.1 percent in a race won by Republican Peter Norbeck. Overall, Pressler's 17.1 percent is good for the second best mark for a non-major party candidate across the 35 U.S. Senate contests in South Dakota history. Independent and third party candidates have appeared on the South Dakota U.S. Senate ballot just 25 times over the last century and only three have reached double digits: Pressler in 2014 and Ayres in 1920 and 1924 (12.1 percent). Pressler's defeat means he won't become the oldest candidate elected to the chamber in South Dakota history nor notch the record for the longest gap in service in the direct election era.


more POLITICAL CRUMBS

Humphrey School Sites
CSPG
Humphrey New Media Hub

Issues />

<div id=
Abortion
Afghanistan
Budget and taxes
Campaign finances
Crime and punishment
Economy and jobs
Education
Energy
Environment
Foreign affairs
Gender
Health
Housing
Ideology
Immigration
Iraq
Media
Military
Partisanship
Race and ethnicity
Reapportionment
Redistricting
Religion
Sexuality
Sports
Terrorism
Third parties
Transportation
Voting