That’s what got Betsy Hodges the victory in Minneapolis’ mayoral election last night. About a third (36.55%) of a 34% turnout in the first round.
Cam Winton came in just under 10% with 7,500 votes. Which is about ten percent better than a Republican did in the last Minneapolis mayor race. Or the one before. Or the one before that. Ad infinitum (or at least back to the nineties, which was the last credible GOP candidate I can recall in Minneapolis).
Now, we know there are more than 7,500 Republicans in Minneapolis. 240,000 people in Hennepin County voted for Mitt Romney, for crying out loud – and the “Republican districts” in Henco would fit into a phone booth and leave you enough room for someone to come in and ask you what a phone booth was. If even 20% of those 240,000 were in Minneapolis, and they’d come out to the polls last night, Winton would have crushed Hodges.
But Republicans never come out for local races. My theory: they’re so used to getting beaten down in local, county and Congressional elections, they only come out for statewide and federal races, where their votes actually end up mattering; a GOP vote from Longfellow is worth exactly the same as a GOP vote from Dassel.
The upsides last night? The fake Republicans, Bob “Let’s Build a Bike Skyway” Carney and Ole “Will Run For Office For Food” Savior, got less than a percent of the vote. In a cycle in which the 5th CD GOP started out being run by people whose main goal was to destroy the GOP, that’s not a bad job of protecting the brand – although most of the credit goes to Winton, who ran a great race.
Nationwide? I can’t be too disappointed. Christie isn’t my favorite Republican, but he had my favorite result – crushing his opponents in a blue state.
Ken Cuccinelli outperformed expectations immensely last night, coming within two points in a race everyone counted him out of – and (this is important) losing to a Democrat vote surge in the only part of the country that’s doing well financially right now, the DC suburbs.
Takeaway? A good candidate is better than a bad candidate. A well-organized party in an area is better than a party that’s a Bulgarian goat rodeo. A two-party city is a better prospect for a challenger than a one-party cesspool. And all three factors matter, every election,every time.
And it’s going to take either a Detroit-style calamity, or several cycles of rebuilding the GOP as credible contenders, to change either Minneapolis or Saint Paul. Which would mean spending less time in a circular firing squad shooting other Republicans and more time actually making a case to actual voters.
And I think I started saying that seven years ago, and it’s only gotten worse in the metro.