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Election Profile: Minnesota's 3rd 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 seventeenth profile in the series is Minnesota's 3rd Congressional District.

Candidates:
Republican: Erik Paulsen (1-term incumbent)
DFL: Jim Meffert
Independence: Jon Oleson

District Geography:
Minnesota's 3rd Congressional District comprises the western suburbs of Hennepin County and a small part of southern Anoka County.

History:
Erik Paulsen, a former state legislator, won the 3rd CD race left open by a retiring Jim Ramstad in 2008, by 7.6 points over DFLer Ashwin Madia.

Ramstad, a moderate to liberal Republican, had entered Congress by winning the open seat left by 10-term Republican Bill Frenzel in 1990, beating DFL nominee Lou Demars by more than a 2:1 margin (34.0 points). Ramstad thoroughly dominated his DFL opponents over the ensuing eight elections, winning by an average margin of 38.4 points. The DFL closed to within 30 points just twice - in 2004 (29.3 points, Deborah Watts) and 2006 (29.9 points, Wendy Wilde).

In 2010, Paulsen will square off against DFLer Jim Meffert, over whom the Congressman has enjoyed more than a 5 to 1 advantage in fundraising and 6 to 1 advantage in cash on hand through mid-October .

Also on the ballot is Independence Party candidate Jon Oleson. David Dillon, the Independence Party nominee in 2008, won 10.6 percent of the vote in that race.

Outlook:
Even though the 3rd CD has no GOP (or Democratic) tilt, with an "even" Partisan Voting Index score, Minnesota (and national) Democrats instead chose to invest more heavily in defeating Michele Bachmann in the much more Republican 6th CD. As a result, Meffert's campaign did not get the same level of support as 6th CD DFL challenger Tarryl Clark, even though the 3rd CD is a much more competitive district for Democrats. Barack Obama carried the 3rd CD by 6 points in 2008 while George W. Bush won it by 3 points in 2004.

One final take-home point: Minnesota's 3rd Congressional District has not voted for a DFL candidate since 1958 - a string of 25 consecutive elections.

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Previous post: Election Profile: Minnesota's 2nd Congressional District
Next post: Election Profile: Minnesota's 4th Congressional District

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Remains of the Data

Plurality-Winning Governors Elected At Century-Long High Water Mark

The rate of gubernatorial candidates elected without the support of a majority of voters is at its highest level since the 1910s.

Political Crumbs

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.


Home Field Advantage?

When the 114th Congress convenes in a few days, Maine will be represented by one home-grown U.S. Representative: Waterville-born Republican Bruce Poliquin. With the departure of Millinocket-born Mike Michaud, who launched a failed gubernatorial bid, the Pine Tree State was poised to send a House delegation to D.C. without any Maine-born members for the first time since 1821. Three-term U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree (born in Minnesota) coasted to reelection as expected, however Poliquin edged Kentucky-born Emily Cain by 5.3 points to keep the streak alive. Since 1876, a total of 208 of the 222 candidates elected to the nation's lower legislative chamber from the state have been born in Maine, or 94 percent.


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