Sunday, October 5, 2008

Note to Republicans: Minnesota Isn't Poachable

It seems that every couple years Republicans make a big play late for Minnesota. While the state is much different than the state that voted for the Democratic nominee in 1980, 1984, and 1988, despite anemic nationwide results in those years; the state still has a slight, but significant Democratic lean. George Bush made a big play for the state in both 2000 and 2004, but lost the state by 2 (he was aided by a Nader candidacy that drained 5% off of Gore's total) and 4 points respectively.

In 2006, when vulnerable Democratic Senator Mark Dayton announced his retirement, Republicans were drooling at what they thought would be an easy pickup with the allegedly up and coming Republican Congressman Mark Kennedy. However, the DSCC and Amy Klobuchar went on the air early and defined the race; and she won the race by 20 points and won all but eight of Minnesota's counties.

But going into 2008, Republicans held out hope for the Gopher State, and even decided to hold their convention and the Twin Cities. But as history has shown, Minnesota is quickly becoming a less expensive version of New Jersey for Republicans. As recently as Thursday, McCain’s advisors were citing Minnesota as one of the states they were hoping to poach since Michigan is no longer an option.

Polling has been all over the map in the state, but the heralded Star-Tribune poll (good rule of thumb: When polls are divergent, trust the pollster who polls the state in question with regularity) was released over the weekend showing both Barack Obama and Al Franken opening up significant leads of double digits for both candidates.

Obama leads McCain 55-37% (up from 45-45% early in September in this poll), and Franken has opened up a 43-34% lead (with the independent in the race polling at 18%), a 13 point swing from the last poll that had Brooklyn born Norm Coleman up by four points. Despite McCain vastly outspending Obama in the state, Obama has been able to open up the lead mainly on the back of economic concerns, whereas Franken’s lead in this poll is mainly attributed (by the proprietors of this poll) to attrition of the ad war currently going on in the state (the Minnesota Senate race is the nastiest and the most personal race in the country at the moment). One thing to watch in that Senate race is the number of the independent candidate, Dean Barkley, who is currently polling at 18% and is climbing. If that trend continues, who will he take votes from and if he collapses (as many independents do as election day approaches) who will his votes flow to?

While these poll numbers look good (though this poll has been accused as having a slight Democratic lean), don’t be complacent and help Barack Obama and Al Franken keep Minnesota blue.

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