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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

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Political Crumbs

Evolving?

When Scott Walker "punted" back in February after being asked if he was comfortable with the idea of evolution he added, "That's a question a politician shouldn't be involved in one way or the other." However, it may very well be a question that is asked at one of the upcoming GOP debates this year. In South Carolina during the first GOP debate in 2012, FOX News' Juan Williams asked Tim Pawlenty, "Do you equate the teaching of creationism with the teaching of evolution as the basis for what should be taught for our nation's schools?" Pawlenty replied, "There should be room in the curriculum for study of intelligent design" but that it was up to the local school districts if it should be in a science class or comparative theory class. At the fourth Republican debate held in California, Jon Huntsman addressed the GOP becoming "anti-science" thusly: "Listen, when you make comments that fly in the face of what 98 out of 100 climate scientists have said, when you call into question the science of evolution, all I'm saying is that, in order for the Republican Party to win, we can't run from science. We can't run from mainstream conservative philosophy."


73 Months and Counting

January's preliminary Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers show Minnesota's unemployment rate of 3.7 percent was once again lower than Wisconsin's 5.0 percent. That marks the 73rd consecutive month in which Minnesota has boasted a lower jobless rate than its neighbor to the east dating back to January 2009 including each of the last 67 months by at least one point. The Gopher State has now edged Wisconsin in the employment border battle for 204 of the last 216 months dating back to February 1997. Wisconsin only managed a lower unemployment rate than Minnesota for the 12 months of 2008 during this 18-year span.


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