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Election Profile: Minnesota's 7th 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 twenty-first profile in the series is Minnesota's 7th Congressional District.

Candidates:
DFL: Collin C. Peterson (10-term incumbent)
Republican: Lee Byberg
Independence: Glen Menze
Independent: Gene Waldorf

District Geography:
Minnesota's 7th Congressional District comprises counties along the western rim of the state: Becker, Big Stone, Chippewa, Clay, Clearwater, Douglas, Grant, Kandiyohi, Kittson, Lac Qui Parle, Lake of the Woods, Lincoln, Lyon, Mahnomen, Marshall, McLeod, Meeker, Norman, Otter Tail, Pennington, Polk, Pope, Red Lake, Redwood, Renville, Roseau, Sibley, Stevens, Swift, Todd, Traverse, Wilkin, Yellow Medicine, and parts of Beltrami and Stearns counties.

History:
Collin Peterson is one of three Upper Midwesternerns in the House Blue Dog Democrats coalition. Peterson entered Congress by defeating seven-term GOP incumbent Arlan Stangeland by 7.1 points back in 1990. Peterson then narrowly won re-election in 1992 (by 1.3 points) and 1994 (2.6 points) before thoroughly dominating his GOP counterparts from 1996-2002 by an average margin of victory of 37 points.

In 2004, Peterson beat his Republican opponent David Sturrock by 32.3 points and in 2006 he rolled to a 40.7-point victory over Michael J. Barrett.

In 2008, the Congressman enjoyed the largest margin of victory of his career - 44.5 points over Republican Glen Menze (also Peterson's 2000 GOP opponent).

Peterson, Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, has been known to frequently cross party lines and vote with the GOP, as he did on this year's infamous health care legislation.

In 2010, Peterson squares off against Republican Lee Byberg, Menze for a third time (this time on the Independence Party ticket), and independent Gene Waldorf (a former DFL State Representative and Senator).

Outlook:
The 7th Congressional District has the second largest GOP tilt in the Gopher State at +3 points. John McCain carried the district by 7 points in 2008 while George W. Bush won it by 12 points in 2004. Tim Pawlenty also carried the district by a decisive 8.4 points in 2006.

Despite its conservative tendencies, Republicans have not offered up a competitive candidate against Peterson in the district over the last six election cycles. As a result, since redistricting in 2002, Peterson has enjoyed a 37.1-point average margin of victory.

Byberg offers Republicans their best shot to reach 40 percent in the district in 16 years, although the third party and independent candidacies of Menze and Waldorf respectively may make that difficult.

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Previous post: Election Profile: Minnesota's 6th Congressional District
Next post: Election Profile: Minnesota's 8th 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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