Sean Duffy, the Republican Congressman from Wisconsin’s 7th district, not only survived his reelection bid on Tuesday night but won handily.
Duffy, a freshman Republican, won reelection as a two-year incumbent despite: A) the Democratic party had a 42-year stranglehold on his district before he arrived, B) according to Politico, the Democratic Party targeted him for defeat more than any other freshman Republican candidate, C) the House Majority SuperPAC has been running television ads against him since October 2011, and D) the powerful SEIU, through its affiliate, Americans United for Change, started pounding away at him in April 2012.
Duffy won easily by 12%, a wide enough margin of victory that naysayers claiming redistricting helped him will have to eat their words; the redistricting only added 3% more Republicans to the voting area.
In a year where Republicans went down to defeat in Wisconsin, how did this happen? Democrats like Wisconsin Democratic Party Chairman Mike Tate were chortling, “It’s hard to be a rising star if you’re a one-term congressman, which I think he’s going to be.” No other Republican targeted by the Democratic Party as heavily as Duffy was won so convincingly; nine other targeted Republicans lost and the other six won by no more than eight points.
It happened because Duffy held a town hall in every county each year, attended over 100 parades, festivals, and dairy breakfasts, and raised nearly $2.6 million.
It happened because Duffy consistently outperformed how a generic Republican candidate would fare:
Date Generic GOP % Duffy %
6/2012 44% 49%
9/2012 48% 52%
10/2/12 49% 52%
10/18/12 46% 52%
10/29/12 51% 55%
When asked why they preferred Duffy, some of the responses were that he was enthusiastic, open, a family man, caring, and, most importantly, very visible to constituents. Many voters said they had met him personally.
When Duffy won in 2010 in the strong blue district, people called it a fluke.
They’re not calling it a fluke any more.