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Election Profile: Minnesota's 8th 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-second profile in the series is Minnesota's 8th Congressional District.

Candidates:
DFL: Jim Oberstar (18-term incumbent)
Republican: Chip Cravaack
Independence: Timothy Olson
Constitution: Richard Burton

District Geography:
Minnesota's 8th Congressional District comprises the northeastern Iron Range counties: Aitkin, Carlton, Cass, Chisago, Cook, Crow Wing, Hubbard, Isanti, Itasca, Kanabec, Koochiching, Lake, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Pine, St. Louis, Wadena, and the southeastern part of Beltrami County.

History:
Oberstar was first elected to Congress in 1974 when he filled the open seat left by 14-term DFL Representative John A. Blatnik in Minnesota's 8th District. Oberstar beat his Republican opponent in that election, Jerome Arnold, by 35.8 points. Oberstar has now outlasted his predecessor, and is the longest serving Congressman in Gopher State history.

Oberstar has won 17 consecutive re-election campaigns, by an average victory margin of 45.0 points. The GOP has failed to field a candidate against Obserstar in two elections (1976 and 1978), and the closest a Republican candidate has come to beating Oberstar is 29.4 points - both in 1992 (Independent-Republican Phil Herwig) and 2006 (former GOP U.S. Senator Rod Grams).

In 2008, Oberstar won his 18th term by 35.5 points over Republican Michael Cummins and continued to serve as Chairman of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.

In 2010, Oberstar will square off against three candidates - Republican Chip Cravaack, Independence Party candidate Timothy Olson, and Constitution Party candidate Richard Burton. This marks the first time the Constitution Party has fielded a candidate in the 8th CD.

Outlook:
Oberstar has enjoyed easy reelection bids this redistricting period, despite the 8th CD having only a +3 Democratic Partisan Voting Index score. Barack Obama won the district by 9 points in 2008 and John Kerry carried it by 7 points in 2004. Mike Hatch also easily won the 8th CD in the state's gubernatorial race, by 11.1 points over Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty.

The DFL has held this U.S. House seat since 1946, but Oberstar will be facing his toughest test by far in Republican Chip Cravaack. Cravaack's late-cycle fundraising run was aided in part by significant national coverage of the 8th CD race. The prospect of a political upstart's defeat of a committee chairman, let alone an 18-term incumbent, is big news in D.C.

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Previous post: Election Profile: Minnesota's 7th Congressional District
Next post: Smart Politics Projections: Iowa State Senate

1 Comment


  • Great straight forward election profile

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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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