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Election Profile: Wisconsin's 8th 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 fourteenth profile in the series is Wisconsin's 8th Congressional District.

Candidates:
Democrat: Steve Kagen (2-term incumbent)
Republican: Reid Ribble

District Geography:
Wisconsin's 8th Congressional District comprises the northeastern counties of Brown, Door, Florence, Forest, Kewaunee, Marinette, Menominee, Oconto, Outagamie, Shawano, Vilas, Waupaca, and parts of Langlade and Oneida counties.

History:
Kagen won the 8th District's open-seat race in 2006 by 2.1 points over Republican John Gard, as well as the 2008 rematch by 8.1 points.

Four-term Republican Mark Green had held the seat before his failed 2006 gubernatorial candidacy in the Badger State. In fact, Republicans had won the 8th District in 13 of the previous 14 election cycles, dating back to 1978, with the only Democratic victory during that span coming in 1996 (Jay W. Johnson, by 4.1 points). The GOP had an average margin of victory of 30.8 points across those 13 cycles.

Kagen, a physician, serves on the House Committee on Agriculture and the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.

Kagen's 2010 opponent is Republican roofing contractor Reid Ribble. Even though Kagen had raised greater than $600,000 more than his opponent through mid-October, Ribble had nearly $150,000 more cash on hand for the closing few weeks of the campaign.

Outlook:
From 1978 to 2004, only 3 of the 14 elections in the 8th District were decided by less than 10 points. During the last two election cycles, the district has been one of the most competitive in the nation. Overall, the 8th CD has a +2 point GOP tilt during the last two presidential election cycles - with Barack Obama winning the district by 9 points in 2008 and George W. Bush carrying it by 11 points in 2004. Kagen's fairly liberal voting record (the 106th most liberal in the House in 2009 according to National Journal) will not win him any new converts in this district in the current political environment as he seeks to return to D.C. for a third term.

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Previous post: Election Profile: Wisconsin's 7th Congressional District
Next post: Election Profile: Minnesota's 1st 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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