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Is Bart Stupak's U.S. House Seat Vulnerable?

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Nine-term Democrat has won by more than 32 points in each of the last four election cycles

Michigan Democratic Congressman Bart Stupak's (MI-01) rise to national prominence in recent weeks by first standing firmly against and then ultimately voting for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, may have made him an unofficial Republican target, much like how Democrats reacted nationwide to oust Republican Joe Wilson (SC-02) after his infamous "You lie" outburst during President Obama's Address to Congress last autumn.

With one simple vote, Stupak may have completed a rare political hat trick - falling out of favor with all three sides of the ideological spectrum:

· The left, some of whom were angered by the Congressman drawing abortion so prominently into the health care debate,
· The right, some of whom felt Stupak betrayed the pro-life values he publicly champions,
· And the center, some of whom may see Stupak as a Representative who displayed political weakness by caving to the pressures from the Democratic leadership who were fighting with all their might to get their health care bill through the House.

But even if all this is the case, Stupak's seat will not be an easily won prize for the GOP. Stupak is not even in the top two most vulnerable Democrats from the state of Michigan, and, with over 17 years of service in the U.S. House, the Congressman has a larger margin for error than many, even if indeed his Sunday vote was a political miscalculation.

A Smart Politics analysis of U.S. House election data finds that Stupak's 1st CD of Michigan has been only the 217th most competitive district in the country over the last four election cycles.

Since new district lines were drawn in 2002, Stupak has won by an average margin of 35.8 points, or just slightly more competitive than the 39.2-point average victory margin across all 435 U.S. House districts nationwide.

Stupak has notched at least 65 percent of the vote in each election since 2002 (the 1st CD now encompasses all of Michigan's Upper Peninsula and the northeastern part of the Lower Peninsula).

Since winning his first election in 1992, Stupak has won an average of 62.9 percent of the vote, winning his nine races by an average margin of 27.7 points:

· Stupak won the 1st CD in 1992 by 10.3 points over Republican Philip Ruppe, when John Conyers (who previously represented the 1st) ran instead in the state's 14th CD after redistricting.
· During the Republican Revolution of 1994, Stupak defeated Republican Gil Ziegler by 14.9 points.
· In 1996, Stupak beat GOPer Bob Carr by 43.5 points, topping the 70 percent vote mark for the first and only time in his congressional career.
· In 1998, Stupak defeated Republican Michael McManus by 19.2 points.
· In 2000, the Congressman beat Republican Chuck Yob by 18.0 points.
· In 2002, Stupak beat GOPer Don Hooper by 36.6 points in the first of three straight contests against him.
· In 2004, Stupak defeated Hooper by 32.8 points.
· In 2006, Stupak beat Hooper by 41.4 points, with the Congressman winning more than two-thirds of the vote in his district for the third time.
· In 2008, Stupak defeated Republican Tom Casperson by 32.3 points.

While Republicans and conservatives may be escalating their rhetoric against Stupak, their sights are much more likely set against lower hanging Democratic fruit in the Wolverine State: Democrats Mark Schauer (MI-07) and Gary Peters (MI-09) are freshman congressmen who represent two of the most competitive congressional districts in the nation.

Schauer's 7th CD has been the 22nd most competitive district in the country since 2002, with an average margin of victory of 12.4 points.

Peter's 9th CD has been the 27th most competitive district in the nation during this four election cycle span, with an average victory margin of 13.0 points.

Overall, Stupak's 1st CD has been just the 9th most competitive district in the State of Michigan, behind the 7th (#22), 11th (#25), 9th (#27), 8th (#90), 6th (#153), 4th (#155), 3rd (#190), and 10th (#207) Congressional Districts.

Through December 2009, Stupak had raised $461,220 for the current election cycle, more than 72 percent of which came from PAC money. Democrat and former Charlevoix County Commissioner Connie Saltonstall is lodging a primary challenge against the nine-term Congressman.

Dennis Lennox, drain commissioner in Michigan's Cheboygan County, recently formed an exploratory committee to challenge Stupak this November.

Election Results for Michigan's 1st Congressional District, 1992-2008

Data compiled from Office of the Clerk, U.S. House of Representatives by Smart Politics.

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  • Well, it's important to realize that in his District having the Right to Life endorsement has definitely helped him in the past. And he won't have that this time...

    He may still win, but now it'll be competitive. The race has been nationalized.

    Today's WSJ talks about how one opponent of Stupak, Dan Benishek has raised a bale of cash in 72 hours. When I became a fan of Dan Benishek on Sunday, I was the 147th fan. He now has just shy of 20,000 fans.

    His opponent is up and running with www.dropstupak.com

  • The fact that his district is solidly democratic may make him more vulnerable to defeat. His primary opponent is staying in the race despite his ultimate 'cooperation' on HCR.

  • The bill clearly states that no federal funds can be used for abortions. Stupak and others were concerned that the community health centers provided for under the bill could still perform abortions. Since the centers would be run by the executive branch which is still governed by the bill and the hyde amendment --it is rather difficult to see how this could happen.
    Still stupak got an amendment passed taking care of this at best remote possibility.

    assume for sake of argument that the republicans would have pledged --add the stupak amendment and return the bill to the senate and we will not filibuster. assume this happened sunday thereby permitting stupak to vote "yes" as he always said he wanted to.

    anyway contend that this would have avoided the present attacks on stupak?

    However after Brown's election, the house had to adopt the Senate bill or face a republican filibuster to get reform passed. The executive order clearly takes care of the almost fictional potential of community health centers performing abortions--since the centers are under the executive branch.

    so the issue is not really abortions but health care reform itself. you want us to believe that lthe brown shirt tea baggers now attacking stupak would supposedly not be doing so if republicans had let his amendment be reintroduced without threat of filibuster - you betcha!

    stupak will only win by 10-15% this time not the usual 2-1 margins

  • A smart politician knows that base turnout is critical for a midterm. If the Democrats didn't pass health care, they were headed for a bloodbath. Besides, majorities of Americans want health care reform; many of those who disapprove of this bill want more, not less.

    The GOP scam is coming to an end. And next, finance reform, where the Democrats can turn populist rage against the Republicans without even trying.

  • Leave a comment

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