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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

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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