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Projections: 2012 Upper Midwestern U.S. House Races

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More than a half-dozen contests in the five-state region could be decided by single digits

ushouseseal10.pngThe Upper Midwest has been no stranger to shake-ups to its U.S. House delegations with four Democratic pick-ups in 2006 (IA-01, IA-02, MN-01, WI-08) and five Republican pick-ups in 2010 (MN-08, ND-AL, SD-AL, WI-07, WI-08).

While there will likely not be that much turnover in the five-state, 22-seat region in 2012, there are expected to be several competitive races decided by single digits.

In Iowa, there are two marquee matchups eight-term Democratic U.S. Representative Leonard Boswell and nine-term Republican U.S. Representative Tom Latham in an incumbent vs. incumbent matchup in the 3rd CD due to the Hawkeye State losing a seat in Congress after reapportionment.

Boswell inherited a larger swath of his electorate than did Latham, but Latham raised significantly more money.

If Boswell escapes with a win, as he has many times over his congressional career, Democrats still have to content with Steve King in the 4th CD if they want to sweep the state for the first time in history.

King is facing Christie Vilsack who is hoping to become the first woman in Iowa ever elected to Congress. Iowa is one of six states that has only elected men to the U.S. House - along with Alaska, Delaware, Mississippi, North Dakota, and Vermont.

King holds the advantage in demographics, but Vilsack nearly matched the Republican incumbent dollar for dollar in fundraising and has a very strong name recognition as the former First Lady of the state.

In Minnesota, the state could have three races decided by single digits for the first time since 1994 with Republican incumbents Chip Cravaack (MN-08), Michele Bachmann (MN-06), and John Kline (MN-02) facing strong DFL challengers.

Kline is expected to have the easiest path back to D.C. with Bachmann likely to eke out a win as she has done in past cycles (Bachmann had the narrowest margin of victory among winning GOP incumbents in 2008, and fifth narrowest in 2010).

In the 8th CD, Rick Nolan seeks to become the 10th Minnesota U.S. Representative to return to the U.S. House after a gap in service - although the largest such gap has only been 14 years (Nolan has been out of office for 32).

Pick-ups are not expected in North Dakota, South Dakota, or Wisconsin, although an unexpected Democratic surge could narrow the margin in Wisconsin's 7th and 8th districts to the single-digit range.

Smart Politics 2012 Upper Midwest U.S. House Projections

District
Projection
Status
IA-01
Bruce Braley
Democratic hold
IA-02
David Loebsack
Democratic hold
IA-03
Tom Latham
Republican pick-up*
IA-04
Steve King
Republican hold
MN-01
Tim Walz
Democratic hold
MN-02
John Kline
Republican hold
MN-03
Erik Paulsen
Republican hold
MN-04
Betty McCollum
Democratic hold
MN-05
Keith Ellison
Democratic hold
MN-06
Michele Bachmann
Republican hold
MN-07
Collin Peterson
Democratic hold
MN-08
Rick Nolan
Democratic pick-up
ND-AL
Kevin Cramer
Republican hold
SD-AL
Kristi Noem
Republican hold
WI-01
Paul Ryan
Republican hold
WI-02
Mark Pocan
Democratic hold
WI-03
Ron Kind
Democratic hold
WI-04
Gwen Moore
Democratic hold
WI-05
Jim Sensenbrenner
Republican hold
WI-06
Tom Petri
Republican hold
WI-07
Sean Duffy
Republican hold
WI-08
Reid Ribble
Republican hold
* This is an incumbent vs. incumbent matchup, in a district currently held by Democrat Leonard Boswell.

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Remains of the Data

No Free Passes: States With 2 Major Party Candidates in Every US House Race

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Political Crumbs

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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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