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Election Profile: Iowa's 4th 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 fourth profile in the series is Iowa's 4th Congressional District race.

Candidates:
Republican: Tom Latham (8-term incumbent)
Democrat: Bill Maske
Nominated by Petition: Dan Lensing

District Geography:
Iowa's 4th Congressional District comprises twenty-eight counties in the central and northern part of the state: Alamakee, Boone, Calhoun, Cerro Gordo, Chickasaw, Dallas, Emmet, Floyd, Franklin, Greene, Hamilton, Hancock, Hardin, Howard, Humboldt, Kossuth, Madison, Marshall, Mitchell, Palo Alto, Pocahontas, Story, Warren, Webster, Winnebago, Winneshiek, Worth, and Wright.

History:
Latham was part of the Republican Revolution that swept into Congress with a large number of first-time GOP victors in 1994. Latham beat Democrat nominee Sheila McGuire by 21.8 points in what was then the 5th Congressional District seat left open by 4-term Republican Fred Grandy (former actor on The Love Boat).

For the next three elections Latham faced little competition: winning by 31.9 points in 1996, running unopposed in 1998, and winning by 39.6 points in 2000. In 2002, Latham faced his stiffest competitor to date, defeating Democratic nominee John Norris by 11.7 points after redistricting. In 2004, Latham cruised to a 21.9-point victory over Democratic nominee Paul W. Johnson. In 2006, Lathan faced the second closest race of his Congressional career - winning by 14.4 points over Selden Spencer.

Latham had no trouble trouncing his Democratic foe in 2008, Becky Greenwald, despite the 4th CD voting for Barack Obama by seven points.

Lathan serves on the House Appropriations Committee - the only member from Iowa's delegation on that powerful committee.

In 2010, Latham will face Democratic nominee Bill Maske - an educator and former city councilman and Democratic County Chair for Butler County.

Also appearing on the ballot (nominated by petition) is Dan Lensing. The largest vote total ever received by a candidate nominated by petition for the US House in Iowa history is 4.5 percent (Roy Nielson in IA-05 in 2006).

Outlook:
This region of the Hawkeye State has voted Republican for U.S. House contests in each race for the last two decades. The current 4th CD is actually the most partisan neutral district in Iowa, with an "even" Partisan Voting Index score. The popular Representative easily navigated the Democratic waves of 2006 and 2008 and will coast to shore once again in 2010.

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Previous post: Election Profile: Iowa's 3rd Congressional District
Next post: Election Profile: Iowa's 5th Congressional District

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Remains of the Data

No Free Passes: States With 2 Major Party Candidates in Every US House Race

Indiana has now placed candidates from both major parties on the ballot in a nation-best 189 consecutive U.S. House races, with New Hampshire, Minnesota, Idaho, and Montana also north of 100 in a row.

Political Crumbs

Gubernatorial Highs and Lows

Two sitting governors currently hold the record for the highest gubernatorial vote ever received in their respective states by a non-incumbent: Republican Matt Mead of Wyoming (65.7 percent in 2010) and outgoing GOPer Dave Heineman of Nebraska (73.4 percent in 2006). Republican Gary Herbert of Utah had not previously won a gubernatorial contest when he notched a state record 64.1 percent for his first victory in 2010, but was an incumbent at the time after ascending to the position in 2009 after the early departure of Jon Huntsman. Meanwhile, two sitting governors hold the record in their states for the lowest mark ever recorded by a winning gubernatorial candidate (incumbent or otherwise): independent-turned-Democrat Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island (36.1 percent in 2010) and Democrat Terry McAuliffe of Virginia (47.8 percent in 2013).


An Idaho Six Pack

Two-term Idaho Republican Governor Butch Otter only polled at 39 percent in a recent PPP survey of the state's 2014 race - just four points ahead of Democratic businessman A.J. Balukoff. Otter's low numbers reflect his own struggles as a candidate (witness his weak primary win against State Senator Russ Fulcher) combined with the opportunity for disgruntled Idahoans to cast their votes for one of four third party and independent candidates, who collectively received the support of 12 percent of likely voters: Libertarian John Bujak, the Constitution Party's Steve Pankey, and independents Jill Humble and Pro-Life (aka Marvin Richardson). The six candidate options in a gubernatorial race sets an all-time record in the Gem State across the 46 elections conducted since statehood. The previous high water mark of five candidates was reached in seven previous cycles: 1902, 1904, 1908, 1912, 1914, 1966, and 2010.


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