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Election Profile: Wisconsin's 7th 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 thirteenth profile in the series is Wisconsin's 7th Congressional District.

Candidates:
Democrat: Julie Lassa
Republican: Sean Duffy
Independent No War No Bailout: Gary Kauther

District Geography:
Wisconsin's 7th Congressional District stretches from the central to the northern counties in the state: Ashland, Bayfield, Barron, Burnett, Chippewa, Douglas, Iron, Lincoln, Marathon, Portage, Price, Rusk, Sawyer, Taylor, Washburn, Wood and parts of Clark, Eau Claire, Langlade, Polk, and Oneida counties.

History:
The retirement of 21-term incumbent (and Appropriations Chair) David Obey has opened up one of the GOP's prized districts in 2010.

Obey was elected in 1969 by 3.2 points over Walter J. Chilsen to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of 9-term GOP Representative Melvin R. Laird to become Secretary of Defense, making him the youngest member of Congress at that time.

Obey successfully defended his seat in each of the next 20 elections, by an average margin of victory of 29.5 points. The closest race Obey ever faced was during the Republican revolution of 1994, when he beat his GOP contender Scott West by 8.7 points.

The Democrats send State Senator Julie Lassa to try to take Obey's place on Capitol Hill. Lassa has represented SD 24 since a 2003 special election that she won by 32.3 points in a four candidate race. Lassa was reelected by 35.2 points in 2004 and 35.4 points in 2008.

Republican nominee Sean Duffy has been the District Attorney of Ashland County since 2002. He is also well-known for his reality show stints in the 1990s and early 2000s (The Real World, Road Rules).

Also appearing on the ballot is Gary Kauther, under the Independent No War No Bailout banner.

Outlook:
Despite Obey winning the district on cruise control for years, Wisconsin's 7th CD only has a slight Democratic tilt during the last two presidential election cycles of +3 points. That makes it just the 174th most Democratic district in the nation. Barack Obama won the district by 13 points while John Kerry won it by just one point. As such, nothing has come easy for State Senator Lassa during this campaign, and Duffy has outraised her by more than $600,000 through mid-October. Take that fundraising advantage as a sign of strong momentum for the GOP in the 7th CD heading into Election Day.

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Previous post: Election Profile: Wisconsin's 6th Congressional District
Next post: Election Profile: Wisconsin's 8th 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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