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Election Profile: Wisconsin's 3rd 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 ninth profile in the series is Wisconsin's 3rd Congressional District.

Candidates:
Democrat: Ron Kind (7-term incumbent)
Republican: Dan Kapanke
Independent Citizen for Constitutional Government: Michael Krsiean

District Geography:
Wisconsin's 3rd Congressional District follows the Mississippi and St. Croix River counties from the southern border of the state almost to Lake Superior. It encompasses the counties of: Buffalo, Crawford, Dunn, Eau Claire, Grant, Iowa, Jackson, Juneau, La Crosse, Lafayette, Monroe, Pepin, Pierce, Richland, St. Croix, Trempealeau, Vernon and parts of Clark and Sauk counties.

History:
Kind was elected to represent the 3rd District in 1996 filling the open seat left by eight-term GOP congressman Steven Gunderson. Kind beat his GOP counterpart in that election, James E. Harsdorf, by 4.2 points.

Since then, Kind has capitalized on his incumbency advantage - winning by 43.1 points over Troy A. Brechler in 1998, 27.8 points over Susan Tully in 2000, 29.3 points over Bill Arndt in 2002, 12.9 points over Dale W. Schultz in 2004, 29.7 points over Paul R. Nelson in 2006, and 28.7 points over Paul Stark in 2008.

Kind serves on the House Ways and Means and Natural Resources Committees and, if reelected, would have the most seniority among the state's Democratic delegation, with the retirement of David Obey.

Congressman Kind will face Republican State Senator Dan Kapanke from the Badger State's 32nd Senate District. Kapanka, like Kind, hails from LaCrosse and only narrowly won his 2008 legislative race, defeating Democrat Tara Johnson by just 2.9 points. Kapanke won his Senate seat by 5.1 points in 2004 after a failed 2000 bid.

The race will also include a third party candidate, Michael Krsiean, who is running under the Independent Citizen for Constitutional Government banner. Non major-party candidates have a high watermark of 3.2 percent in the 3rd CD over the last several decades (Libertarian Jeff Zastrow in 2002).

Outlook:
Although Barack Obama carried Wisconsin's 3rd CD by 17 points in 2008, John Kerry won it by just 4 points in 2004, for an overall +4 Partisan Voting Index tilt towards the Democratic Party, making it the 157th most Democratic U.S. House District in the nation. While Ron Kind cannot expect to enjoy the kind of victory margins he's had over the last few cycles during the Democratic waves, if the Party loses his seat on election day they will likely be experiencing losses in the 70+ range.

Previous post: Election Profile: Wisconsin's 2nd Congressional District
Next post: Election Profile: Wisconsin's 4th 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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