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Election Profile: Wisconsin's 2nd 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 eighth profile in the series is Wisconsin's 2nd Congressional District.

Candidates:
Democrat: Tammy Baldwin (6-term incumbent)
Republican: Chad Lee

District Geography:
Wisconsin's 2nd Congressional District comprises the south central part of the state, including Dane and Green counties, along with portions of Columbia, Jefferson, Rock, and Sauk counties.

History:
Tammy Baldwin won her first congressional race in 1998, by defeating Republican Josephine W. Musser by 5.8 points, filling the open seat left by 4-term GOP congressman Scott L. Klug. Baldwin eked out a 2.8-point win in the closest U.S. House race in the Badger State in 2000.

After redistricting, Baldwin has won by very comfortable margins: by 32.2 points over Ron Greer in 2002, by 26.5 points and 25.7 points over Dave Magnum in 2004 and 2006 respectively, and by 38.8 points in 2008 over Peter Theron.

Despite these gaudy victory margins, the district's 30.8 average margin of victory actually ranks in the Top 40 percent most competitive U.S. House seats this decade.

Baldwin serves on the Committee on Energy and Commerce and the Judiciary Committee.

In 2010, Baldwin will square off against Republican businessman Chad Lee from Mt. Horeb.

Outlook:
Wisconsin's 2nd Congressional District has the second largest Democratic tilt in the state, with a +15 Democratic Partisan Voting Index. Overall, Baldwin's district is the 71st most Democratic in the nation. Barack Obama carried it by 39 points in 2008 while John Kerry won it by 25 points in 2004.

Aided by the capitol city of Madison being encompassed by the district, Baldwin is set to join her Republican congressional classmate Paul Ryan for a 7th term in Washington, no matter how strong the GOP wave in 2010.

Previous post: Election Profile: Wisconsin's 1st Congressional District
Next post: Election Profile: Wisconsin's 3rd Congressional District

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Remains of the Data

Gender Equality in the US House: A State-by State Quarter-Century Report Card (1989-2014)

A study of 5,325 congressional elections finds the number of female U.S. Representatives has more than tripled over the last 25 years, but the rate at which women are elected to the chamber still varies greatly between the states.

Political Crumbs

Small Club in St. Paul

Mark Dayton is one of just three Minnesotans ever elected to three different statewide offices. Dayton, of course, had previously served as State Auditor (1991-1995) and U.S. Senator (2001-2007) before winning the governorship in 2010. At that time, he joined Republicans Edward Thye and J.A.A. Burnquist on this very short list. Burnquist was elected lieutenant governor in 1914 but then became governor after the death of Democrat Winfield Hammond in 1915. He then won the gubernatorial elections of 1916 and 1918 and eight terms as attorney general two decades later (1939-1955). Thye was similarly first elected lieutenant governor of the Gopher State and became governor after the resignation of fellow GOPer Harold Stasson in 1943. Thye won one additional full term as governor in 1944 and then two terms to the U.S. Senate (1947-1959). Twenty Minnesotans have been elected to two different statewide offices.


Respect Your Elders?

With retirement announcements this year by veteran U.S. Representatives such as 30-term Democrat John Dingell of Michigan, 20-term Democrat George Miller of California, and 18-term Republican Tom Petri of Wisconsin, it is no surprise that retirees from the 113th Congress are one of the most experienced cohorts in recent decades. Overall, these 24 exiting members of the House have served an average of 11.0 terms - the second longest tenure among retirees across the last 18 cycles since 1980. Only the U.S. Representatives retiring in 2006 had more experience, averaging 11.9 terms. (In that cycle, 10 of the 11 retiring members served at least 10 terms, with GOPer Bill Jenkins of Tennessee the lone exception at just five). Even without the aforementioned Dingell, the average length of service in the chamber of the remaining 23 retirees in 2014 is 10.2 terms - which would still be the third highest since 1980 behind the 2006 and 2012 (10.5 terms) cycles.


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