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Election Profile: Wisconsin's 6th 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 twelfth profile in the series is Wisconsin's 6th Congressional District.

Candidates:
Republican: Tom Petri (16-term incumbent)
Democrat: Joseph Kallas

District Geography:
Wisconsin's 6th Congressional District comprises the east-central counties of the state: Calumet, Dodge, Fond du Lac, Green Lake, Manitowoc, Marquette, Sheboygan, Waushara, Winnebago, and parts of Adams and Jefferson counties.

History:
Petri won a special election by just 0.8 points over Democrat Gary R. Goyke in 1979 to fill the vacancy due to the death of seven-term Republican Representative William A. Steiger.

Petri won the rematch with Goyke in 1980 by 18.7 points and then won the next 14 elections by an average of 61.1 points - including six elections without major party opposition (all midterm election years: 1986, 1990, 1994, 1998, 2002, and 2006).

Petri has only faced one competitive re-election contest in his career - a 5.8-point win over Democratic nominee Peggy A. Lautenschlager in 1992 (the closest U.S. House race in the Badger State that year).

The 70 year-old Congressman serves on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the House Education and Labor Committee.

He is also one of two Upper Midwestern House members (along with Minnesota Representative Erik Paulsen (MN-03) to belong to the center-right Republican Main Street Partnership. (The Partnership, with 43 Representatives, four Senators, and two governors, bills itself as a coalition building force to promote policies that are supportive of conservation and preservation of our natural resources, accountability in the education system, maintaining a strong national defense, increasing economic growth, encouraging renewable energy resources, reforming Social Security, creating more affordable health care, creating transparency and accountability in Congress, and creating American competitiveness through free and fair trade).

Democrats, with nominee Joseph Kallas, are fielding a candidate against Petri in back-to-back election cycles for the first time since the 1982 and 1984 cycles.

Outlook:
Petri's moderate Republican credentials have served him well in this right-leaning district and will continue to do so in 2010. Wisconsin's 6th CD only has a +4 GOP Partisan Voting Index tilt, making it just the 190th most Republican district in the nation. Barack Obama carried the district by one point in 2008 while George W. Bush won it by 14 points in 2004.

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Previous post: Election Profile: Wisconsin's 5th Congressional District
Next post: Election Profile: Wisconsin's 7th 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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