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Election Profile: Wisconsin's 1st 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 seventh profile in the series is Wisconsin's 1st Congressional District.

Candidates:
Republican: Paul D. Ryan (6-term incumbent)
Democrat: John Heckenlively
Libertarian: Jospeh Kexel

District Geography:
Wisconsin's 1st Congressional District comprises the southeast corner of the state, including Kenosha, Racine, and Walworth counties, along with parts of Milwaukee, Rock, and Waukesha counties.

History:
Prior to 1994, the 1st District had been in Democratic hands since 1970, when Les Aspin ousted 2-term Republican incumbent Henry C. Schadeberg. Aspin held the seat through the 1992 election, with the Democratic Party also winning a special election in 1993 (Peter W. Barca) when Aspin resigned to become President Clinton's Secretary of Defense.

Paul Ryan was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1998, winning the open seat previously filled by two-term Republican congressman Mark Neumann. Ryan won that race by 14.4 points over Democratic nominee Lydia Carol Spottswood. Ryan followed that election with four consecutive blowout victories over Democrat Jeffrey Chapman Thomas: by 33.3 points in 2000, 36.6 points in 2002, 32.2 points in 2004, and 25.4 points in 2006.

In 2008, Ryan was untouched by the second consecutive Democratic wave and carried the 1st CD by 29.3 points over Democrat Marge Krupp.

Ryan is a member of the House Committee on the Budget, where he is the Ranking Member, and the Committee on Ways and Means.

Ryan's 2010 Democratic opponent is John Heckenlively from Racine. A successful evening for Heckenlively woud be to reach the 40 percent mark - something no Democratic challenger has done against Ryan since 1998, and is unlikely to do in 2010.

The race will also feature Libertarian candidate Joseph Kexel, who also ran for the seat in 2008, garnering 1.3 percent of the vote. Libertarian candidates have also appeared on the ballot in the 1st District in 2004 (0.8 percent), 2002 (2.1 percent), 1994 (1.8 percent), 1993 (0.3 percent), 1982 (0.9 percent), and 1980 (1.0 percent).

Outlook:
Ryan is a popular political figure among both conservatives and moderates in Wisconsin's 1st Congressional District, and has become one of the most recognizable faces of the GOP on Capitol Hill. While his district is fairly moderate, ranked just the 218th most Republican district in the country with a +2 GOP Partisan Voting Index tilt, Ryan's vote total on Election Day will reflect an advantage of at least 10 times that amount.

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Previous post: Election Profile: South Dakota's At-Large Congressional Seat
Next post: Election Profile: Wisconsin's 2nd 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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