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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

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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