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Election Profile: Iowa's 1st Congressional District

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Smart Politics is running a series of election profiles of Upper Midwestern congressional races leading up to the November 2nd elections. The series will culminate with Smart Politics' official projections. The first profile in the series is Iowa's 1st Congressional District race.

Candidates:
Democrat: Bruce Braley (2-term incumbent)
Republican: Benjamin M. Lange
Libertarian: Rob J. Petsche
Nominated by Petition: Jason A. Faulkner

District Geography:
Iowa's 1st Congressional District comprises twelve eastern counties: Black Hawk, Bremer, Buchanan, Butler, Clayton, Clinton, Delaware, Dubuque, Fayette, Jackson, Jones, and Scott.

History:
Braley, an attorney, turned a Congressional district that had voted Republican by double-digit margins in 2004 (11.9 points) and 2002 (14.6) into a double-digit Democratic pick-up in 2006 (11.9 points). His victory helped bring about the first Democratic majority in Iowa's delegation to the U.S. House since 1976 that year.

Braley followed that up with a 29.2-point thumping of GOPer David Hartusch in 2008, in a district Barack Obama carried by 17 points.

Braley serves on the House Energy and Commerce Committee this session. During his first term he served on the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and the Committee on Small Business.

Braley's GOP opponent, Ben Lange, is a political newcomer who runs a small law practice in Independence, Iowa.

Libertarian candidate Rob Petsche is a former Co-Chair of the Republican Central Committee in Dubuque County. Independent Jason Faulkner is another political newcomer who is a former Army Reservist and works as a gem cutter. The largest showing for any third party candidate in the 1st CD since redistricting in 2002 is a 1.1-point performance by James Hill of the Pirate Party in 2006.

Outlook:
Iowa's First Congressional District has a +5 Democrat Partisan Voting Index. Not only did the district vote for Obama by 17 points, but John Kerry carried it by seven points in 2004 when George W. Bush won the Hawkeye State. Although the district has only been in the Democratic column for two consecutive election cycles (won during Democratic waves), it is not one of the many vulnerable Democratic U.S. House seats in the Midwest this cycle.

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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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