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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

No Free Passes: States With 2 Major Party Candidates in Every US House Race

Indiana has now placed candidates from both major parties on the ballot in a nation-best 189 consecutive U.S. House races, with New Hampshire, Minnesota, Idaho, and Montana also north of 100 in a row.

Political Crumbs

Gubernatorial Highs and Lows

Two sitting governors currently hold the record for the highest gubernatorial vote ever received in their respective states by a non-incumbent: Republican Matt Mead of Wyoming (65.7 percent in 2010) and outgoing GOPer Dave Heineman of Nebraska (73.4 percent in 2006). Republican Gary Herbert of Utah had not previously won a gubernatorial contest when he notched a state record 64.1 percent for his first victory in 2010, but was an incumbent at the time after ascending to the position in 2009 after the early departure of Jon Huntsman. Meanwhile, two sitting governors hold the record in their states for the lowest mark ever recorded by a winning gubernatorial candidate (incumbent or otherwise): independent-turned-Democrat Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island (36.1 percent in 2010) and Democrat Terry McAuliffe of Virginia (47.8 percent in 2013).


An Idaho Six Pack

Two-term Idaho Republican Governor Butch Otter only polled at 39 percent in a recent PPP survey of the state's 2014 race - just four points ahead of Democratic businessman A.J. Balukoff. Otter's low numbers reflect his own struggles as a candidate (witness his weak primary win against State Senator Russ Fulcher) combined with the opportunity for disgruntled Idahoans to cast their votes for one of four third party and independent candidates, who collectively received the support of 12 percent of likely voters: Libertarian John Bujak, the Constitution Party's Steve Pankey, and independents Jill Humble and Pro-Life (aka Marvin Richardson). The six candidate options in a gubernatorial race sets an all-time record in the Gem State across the 46 elections conducted since statehood. The previous high water mark of five candidates was reached in seven previous cycles: 1902, 1904, 1908, 1912, 1914, 1966, and 2010.


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