No Joementum

The Joe Radinovich Campaign, stunned by polling that showed them slipping from a one point lead to being 15 point dogs, hit another bump on the campaign trail yesterday; J-Rad’s campaign manager has bailed:

Meredith Raimondi has confirmed with Alpha News that she is no longer with Radinovich’s campaign. Raimondi would not give any further details regarding her departure.

Raimondi’s exit is another setback amidst a difficult week for Radinovich’s campaign.

On Tuesday the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) cancelled $1.2 million in ads in the district, redirecting the funds to races that Democrats are more likely to win.

The sudden loss in funding comes after a new New York Times poll that shows Radinovich’s opponent, Republican Pete Stauber, up 15 percentage points.

The independent, non-partisan Cook Political Report also weighed in on Radinovich’s chances, downgrading the race from “Toss Up” to the “Lean Republican” on Tuesday.

If you’d told me when I started my blog in 2002, or my show in 2004, that I’d see CD8 looking at sustained GOP victories of any kind, much less two-digit ones, in my lifetime, I’d have said you should get that traumatic brain injury looked at.

And yet here we are.

It Ain’t Easy Being Ken Martin

Ken Martin, chair of the MNDFL, has a tough row to hoe.  I gotta say, I feel sorry for the guy.

On the one hand, the NYTimes – the PR agency for the Democrats at the national level – released an article disparaging the blue-collar workers of northern Minnesota:

“[the blue collar guy the Times starts the interview with] drives to the mine in his truck, comes home and watches TV, and he doesn’t know this world exists,” says [retired Twin Cities real estate lawyer and environmentalist] Becky Rom, a 68-year-old lawyer who returned to her childhood home after retirement and now leads the environmental campaign


“Resentment is the primary driver of the pro-mining crowd here — they are resentful that other people have come here and been successful while they were sitting around waiting for a big mining company,” [Rom’s husband, retired Twin Cities corporate lawyer Reid] Carron told me. “They want somebody to just give them a job so they can all drink beer with their buddies and go four-wheeling and snowmobiling with their buddies, not have to think about anything except punching a clock.”

The elitism rolls off this piece like the fog hovering above a lake on a brisk morning.  (UPDATE:  Although once the uproar started hurting the DFL, Rom and Carron were sorry they got caught).

Trouble is, these people are traditional DFLers (although that’s been eroding in recent years).   So Martin’s gotta defend ’em – right?

Not so fast.  Martin’s leash is largely held by Metrocrat environmentalists – the Roms and the Carrons – with deep pockets.  The people behind Minnesota’s biggest environmental groups are the same as those behind Minnesota’s biggest “progressive” money pools, like “Alliance for a Better Minnesota”; indeed the law firms that spawned the likes of Rom and Carron are, themselves, among the DFL’s biggest donors.

So let’s spare a thought for Ken Martin; he has to defend the virtue of workers – the vestiges of the “Labor” in Democrat Farmer Labor party – in an industry that his party’s big money hates, from the depredations of the national Democrat party’s Praetorian Guard.

How did he do?


More Of This

Stewart Mills leads Rick “The Fossil” Nolan in the CD8 race, according to KSTP:

In a rematch of one of the closest congressional races in the country two years ago, Republican Stewart Mills leads Democratic incumbent Rick Nolan by four points in Minnesota’s 8th District, 45 percent to 41 percent, in our exclusive KSTP/SurveyUSA poll. However, a significant number of voters remain undecided, 14 percent, and could swing this election either way.

“You have to keep in mind there’s been wall-to-wall political advertising” in this race, says political scientist Steven Schier of Carleton College. “It’s the most expensive race in the country and still 14 percent are undecided so it’s still anybody’s game.”

I’ve seen other polling that shows Mills with a bigger lead…

…but six years ago, Cravack was merely polling below even with Oberstar at this point in the race.

Watch for a LOT of Sorosbucks.

Rick Nolan, Banana Republican

To:  Everyone in Northern Minnesota
From: Mitch Berg, Uppity Peasant
Re:  Your Congressional Representative


Here’s Rick Nolan, your representative from CD8.

Banana Republicans (from L): Keith Ellison, Betty McCollum, and Rick Nolan.

Banana Republicans (from L): Keith Ellison, Betty McCollum, and Rick Nolan.

It was taken this past Wednesday, as he participated in a “sit-in” on the floor of the House, in favor of a bill that would have gutted due process by allowing the government to bar firearms from anyone on a “terrorism watch list” that government can put people on with no due process, no accountability, and no recourse.

All government has to do is put your entire group – pro-lifers, hunting rights groups, even union activists – on the “watch list”, and boom; no guns for you.   And there’s nothing you can do about it.

Just like in the Soviet Union, Saudi Arabia, or any banana republic.

This is what Rick Nolan is spending his taxpayer-funded time and money on in DC; pretending that you, the people of CD8, want this country to turn into a banana republic.

Remember this in November.

That is all.

Open Letter To Everyone In The Eighth CD

To:  All Youse Up Nort
From:  Mitch Berg, descendant of jackpine savages
Re:  Your Representative.


Bernie Sanders endorses Rick Nolan.  Bernie Sanders endorses Rick Nolan.  Bernie Sanders endorses Rick Nolan.  Bernie Sanders endorses Rick Nolan.  Bernie Sanders endorses Rick Nolan.  Bernie Sanders endorses Rick Nolan.  Bernie Sanders endorses Rick Nolan.  Bernie Sanders endorses Rick Nolan.  Bernie Sanders endorses Rick Nolan.  Bernie Sanders endorses Rick Nolan.  Bernie Sanders endorses Rick Nolan.  Bernie Sanders endorses Rick Nolan.  Bernie Sanders endorses Rick Nolan.  Bernie Sanders endorses Rick Nolan.  Bernie Sanders endorses Rick Nolan.

That is all.

Second Time’s The Charm?

Stuart Mills makes it ooh, so close to official that he’s going for a rematch in the 8th CD.

A rematch with Mills – whose 2014 bid lost by about a point – will give the DFL a chance to exercise those keen logical and reasoning skills in their never-ending pursuit of the stupid vote:

House Majority PAC and the DCCC aired ads thrashing Mills for his personal wealth, and at the time, his long hair.

“If you take a look at the attacks that they leveled against me, the one thing they never wanted to engage in was the issues,” Mills said on Wednesday. “They wanted to talk about my hair. They wanted to talk about my family’s success and the people we employed. They did not want to talk about the issues.”

Mills cut his iconic long hair this summer after a barbecue accident.

How many ancient keg-stand photos do you think the DFL can recycle before people figure out they’ve got nothing?

Mills: Didn’t See That Coming

The Strib endorses…

Stewart Mills in CD8.

I must confess, I didn’t see it coming – and reading the Strib ‘s piece, I’m going to guess they didn’t either:

Among the district’s immediate challenges is a choice between two imperfect candidates for Congress. On balance, we conclude that this changing district would be best served by a fresh voice, and we give the endorsement edge to retail executive Stewart Mills.

One wonders how often the Star Tribune specifically notes candidates are “imperfect”. I imagine it’s less of a surprise to most readers than the Star Tribune may believe.

One charge relentlessly leveled at Mills is that he is the beneficiary of inherited wealth through his family’s Fleet Farm empire. But we doubt that many Minnesotans really consider such a background a disqualification from public office.

While it would be a bit much to expect the Star Tribune to attack the DFL for making Mills’s wealth – for which he worked – an issue while endorsing a trust fund baby for governor, one could always hope.

Still, the endorsement does go on to tell Mills’ story fairly:

Having begun his Fleet Farm career scrubbing toilets and emptying trash, Mills today is vice president in charge of the chain’s health care plan, covering 6,000 employees and their dependents. He has developed a hands-on understanding of the intricacies of the health care marketplace, coming to see wellness and prevention as keys to controlling costs.

Mills says his objections to the Affordable Care Act are central to inspiring his run for Congress. His candidacy follows what he calls the “Hunting Camp Rule”: If you complain about something, you get the job of fixing it. His condemnation of the ACA is too sweeping, given that he backs the law’s key goals. But the market-based approaches he prefers — including more price transparency and tort reform — could contribute to needed improvements in the law.

I know, I know – I shouldn’t complain too hard; the Star Tribune just endorsed a relatively free-market conservative.

But would a little honesty, or at least economic literacy, kill the “newspaper of record”? (Emphasis added):

Mills is challenging Rep. Rick Nolan, who returned to Congress in 2012 after a 32-year hiatus. Nolan lists several accomplishments, including working with Minnesota Sens. Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar in securing $10 million in federal funds for improvements for the Port of Duluth-Superior.

Nolan has been a leader in efforts to clamp down on foreign-made steel dumping in this country. He has also worked to expand invasive species protection in the Great Lakes. And he says he’s committed to campaign finance reform and efforts to improve the legislative process.

Nolan’s “accomplishments”, in other words, involve coughing up taxpayer. goodies for the special interests in his district.

Speaking of special interests:

We differ with Mills on a number of issues — not least on his unyielding stance against firearm regulation.

Running in the Eighth Congressional District? That’s a feature, not a bug.  So, by the way, is supporting the Constitution.

But here’s how we know it’s really, really a Star Tribune endorsement (emphasis added):

But we’re also persuaded that Mills has the intelligence and pragmatic instincts to learn, grow and adapt in office.

Mr. Mills – I hope you get elected. And that you then resist “growing in office” with every fiber of your being.

If elected, Mills will face a learning curve in Washington. But he has the energy, the zest for ideas and the deep commitment to northern Minnesota to make a success of it.

Yeah, it’ll take a lot of learning to get up to the level of a Nancy Pelosi or a Sheila Jackson Lee.

But those are the marginalia. It’s an endorsement. It’s only a newspaper endorsement, but it’s the last thing I ever expected.

Evidence In The Affirmative

Last week, we reported that a KSTP/Survey USA poll shows Stewart Mills leading Rick Nolan by eight points.

As we’ve noted for years and years, polls are deeply imperfect (sorry, Nate Silver), and there’s only one poll that matters, and it’s coming up two weeks from tomorrow.

But if there were any evidence needed that Rick Nolan is nervous about his prospects, it’s yesterday’s interview with Esme Murphy on WCCO

…which he spent sniveling like a four-year-old who didn’t get ice cream about outside money’s effect on politics.

Apparently he’s feeling cut out of the DCCC’s flood of Franken money…

(Courtesty @JohnHockey on Twitter)

Thanks, But No Thanks

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s gun grab group issued a long series of endorsements in congressional races, including over 50 Democrat incumbents.

Conspicuous by his absence? Rick Nolan, in the 8th Congressional District..

And after all he’s done for them…:

Some incumbents didn’t make the Everytown list. The group didn’t endorse Rep. Rick Nolan (D., Minn.), who co-sponsored the House bill to expand background checks. Mr. Nolan, who has an F score from the NRA, is trying to fend off a challenge from Republican Stewart Mills, whom the NRA gave an A rating.

The endorsements were extremely heavy on incumbents, and almost never involved contested races.

Why, it’s almost like gun control is political poison or something…

MNGOPAC Endorses Mills

The MN Gun Owners Political Action Committee (MNGOPAC) has endorsed Stewart Mills in the Eighth Congressional District:

“Since he first entered the public arena, Stewart Mills has been an unflinching supporter of gun rights,“ said Mark Okern, Chairman, Minnesota Gun Owners PAC.  “Minnesota gun owners can count on Stewart Mills to stand firm for our Second Amendment rights 100% of the time.”

Mills entered the public policy arena in early 2013 when his video criticizing newly proposed federal gun control measures went viral.

“As a member of Congress, Stewart Mills will be a huge improvement over Rick Nolan for gun owners.  Nolan has repeatedly endorsed measures which would curtail our liberties and our gun rights, earning him an F from the NRA,“ said Okern.

I think this endorsement will help to highlight to Iron Rangers the yawning gap between what the DFL delivers – urban environmentalist embargoes on their livehilood, gun-grabbers and PETAzoids poking around in their gun cabinets, and ongoing taxpayer-paid infanticide that most of them oppose – with what they promise.

Don’t Stop, And NARN Will Soon Be Here

Today, the Northern Alliance Radio Network – America’s first grass-roots talk radio show – brings you the best in Minnesota conservatism, as the Twin Cities media’s sole source of honesty!

  • I’m in the studio today from 1-3.  We’ll start with Brian Strawser and Mark Okern from Minnsota Gun Owners PAC, talking about the look ahead to the session and their endorsement of Julianne Ortman for US Senate.  Then – Stewart Mills, candidate for the US House seat in the 8th Congressional District!
  • Don’t forget the King Banaian Radio Show, on AM1570 “The Businessman” from 9-11AM this morning!
  • Tomorrow,  Brad Carlson is on “The Closer” from 1-3PM!

(All times Central)

So tune in to all six hours of the Northern Alliance Radio Network, the Twin Cities’ media’s sole guardians of honest news. You have so many options:

Join us!

Saturday On The NARN

Big week coming up Saturday on the Northern Alliance Radio Network, so I thought I’d start talking about it now.

First, I’ll have Brian Strawser and Mark Okern of the Minnesota Gun Owners PAC, talking about their endorsement of Julianne Ortman and the year ahead in the legislature (hint: it’s going to be another doozy).

Then – Stewart Mills, CEO of Mills Fleet Farm and candidate for the US Congress in CD8, will join me to talk about his race.

Hope you can tune in.  Or join the show at 651 289 4488!

When Recycling Is Just Plain Wrong

I live in the Fourth CD – St. Paul, Ramsey and an unfortunate tail of Washington counties – and I’ve focused mostly on that Congressional race so far.

But if you’re a conservative, you need to pay attention to the race in CD8, where Chip Cravaack – one of the single greatest Cinderella stories of the 2010 cycle – is fighting a very tough re-election bid.

He’s up against Rick Nolan, an old-school northwoods ultraliberal DFLer who served in Congress back in the statist seventies.  While the MN DFL is an intellectual throwback to a time when neither US industry nor the notion of big government had any real challenges, Nolan is a literal throwback:

  • Jobs be damned:  Nolan sided with Twin Cities environmentalists and the EPA to block the PolyMet mine – and the 500 jobs it’d have brought to an area that could really, really use 500 jobs.
  • We All Belong To Government: Back when he was in Congress, he repeatedly voted to jack up small business taxes – and has given us no indication he’d be any less a tax-extremist than Barack Obama or Mark Dayton.
  • A One-Man Death Panel: Nolan supports Obamacare, which would gut the Medicare that so many of his constituents depend on.

The American Action Network just released an infographic about Nolan:

It’s suitable for framing and sending to any relatives you have up north.

Or just emailing.  Whatever.

The DFL is trying to tell northern Minnesota that they can return to their glory days of the 1960’s and 1970’s by returning to the government of the era.  It’s just not true.

Sartre Had A Point

When it comes to D-list political punditry, hell is other peoples’ predictions.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m someone else’s “other people”.  And my predictions have been…well, generally good.  I called the 2004 Prez and 2006 Governor’s races pretty much to the point.  I nailed the 2nd, 3rd, 6th and 8th CDs almost to the vote.  Yeah, I blew the 2006 Senate race by about ten, and there’ve been a few clinkers.  I also predicted Norm Coleman and Tom Emmer in squeakers over Senator Smalley and Governor Fauntelroy – and if you left out fraudulent  and multiple votes, I think I may still have been right.

Still, as much as I love doing predictions, there’s an intense Schadenfreud when other peoples’ predictions – especially journalistic A-listers – come a cropper.

And a cropper they came.

Funny stuff.

The Yapping

Poor “Progressives”.

They can’t win elections.  Their politicians can’t do budgets (or, if they do, can never, ever make them work.  Even with years of unfettered control (from 2008 through 2010),  they can’t do anything useful with the economy.

And now even their protests suck:.

“We’re trying to find a caddy,” said a protester posing as Boehner. The Boehner impersonator stood beside impersonators of Minnesota Reps. Michele Bachmann, Erik Paulsen, Chip Cravaack and John Kline.

The “impersonators” were actually people wearing large cardboard cutouts of unflattering photos of the various politicians’ heads, looking like they were cut out from “Dump Bachmann” and blown up.  After eight years of constant caterwauling, they can’t even muster the energy to do those annoying papier-mache puppets anymore.

Cravaack wryly noted…:

“The people that we were speaking with were the job creators. They’re the people who employ Minnesotans,” Cravaack said of the attendees. “So we’re asking the question to them, ‘What is it going to take for you to invest in yourselves and create jobs?'”

He added that businesses are skittish about making that investment with the threat of new taxes and regulations from the Obama administration.

“Taxing companies right now in a recession is not going to create jobs,” Cravaack said. “It’s going to take jobs away.”

But to the progressive worldview, it’s government’s job to create jobs.


By hiring lots of people who’ve never used shovels for a living for “shovel-ready” jobs? (What the hell is a “shovel-ready” job?  Outside of patching streets, what job in the world today actually uses shovels?)

By waving the magic government wand, perhaps?

They can’t even think of original chanting points:

Protesters accused the Minnesota congressmen of meeting with wealthy donors while proposing cuts to the middle class and not creating jobs. One sign read “People before profits,” and the crowd chanted “Hey-hey-ho-ho, corporate greed has got to go.”

Criminy – even Saul Alinsky is rolling in his grave.

Don’t Let The Door Hit You

Bright and early this morning on MPR, I heard Cathy Wurzer talking with former MNCD8 Representative Jim Oberstar.

It goes without saying the guy became a slippery wonk over his five decades in DC.

But it was his closing line that stuck with me; it should go up there with Cy Thao’s classic “When you guys win,  you get to keep your money.  When we win, we take your money“, or Larry Pogemiller’s “It’s silly to think people can spend their money better than government can“.

Asked about the criticisms he’d taken as for being seen as a porkmonger, he replied (I’m paraphrasing as closely as I can; I’ll try to get the audio after work today):

To all of them, I say – don’t drive on Highway 17.  Don’t drive on Highway 8. Don’t drive on Highway 61.  Don’t drive on [this bridge], or [that bridge], or [some other bridge].  Don’t drive on any of the things you criticized.  Follow your principles.

“Representative” Oberstar, by your imperial leave; I paid for them.  So did taxpayers in Manhattan and Mississippi, in Oregon and Ohio.  We paid for those roads, for your bike paths, the Great Lakes Marine Research Institute, the North Star Commuter Rail line, and all the millions upon millions of dollars of other spending you inveigled for your district.

You didn’t pay for it.

We did.

And I will drive on any f*****g highway I want, whether I agree with its rationale or not.  I will ride on the bike paths I criticized you for.  I will go to the ice cream social or whatever they do at the GLMRI, and drive over those bridges – maybe back and forth a few times, like a kid playing on an escalator.  Come to think of it, if I can find any escalators built with your pork-barrelling, I’ll ride ’em until security tells me to stop.

Because I paid for them.  Against my will, in some cases; more than I’d have paid, in others; with my muted assent in still others. And since I paid for them – and since you were my employee (or would have been, had I lived in the 8th CD), I will not only not ask your permission, I may even take pictures of myself doing it, and send them to you, just to gall you.

So go curl up at the Humphrey Institute, and go away.

By your imperial leave.

The Great Poll Scam, Part XIII: Reality Swings And Misses

Contrary to the impression some wrote about on various blogs, I never worked for the Emmer campaign.  Oh, I did a fair amount of writing about Emmer’s bid for governor – I thought he had what it took to be the best governor we’ve had in a long time, and I was a supporter from long before he actually declared his intent to run.  I volunteered a lot of time, and a lot of this blog’s space, to fight against the sleaziest, most toxic smear campaign in recent Minnesota electoral history, and I do believe the better man lost this election.

But I never got any money for it.

What I did get – although not to an extent that would make a Tom Scheck or a Rachel Stassen-Berger in any way jealous – was a certain amount of access.  I heard things.

One of the things I heard from sources inside the Emmer campaign, especially during the long, dry, advertising-dollar-free summer before the primaries, when all three DFL contenders curiously spent their entire ad budgets sniping at Emmer, and the media played dutiful stenographers for Alliance for a Better Minnesota’s smear campaign, was that the Emmer campaign had its work cut out for it.  In late July and early August, a source inside the Emmer campaign, speaking on MI-5-level deep background, told me the internal polls showed Emmer trailing by 12 points.  It wasn’t good news, certainly – but it was early in the race, it was a byproduct of being outspent roughly 16:1 to that point, and it was just part of doing business.   “We gotta pick up six points, and Dayton’s gotta lose six”, the source told me, as the campaign dug its way out of “Waitergate”.

I observed to the source that that should have been nothing new for Emmer; he’d come back from a bigger margin in the previous nine months or so, from being way back in the pack at the Central Committee straw poll about this time last year, where Marty Seifert won by a margin many considered insurmountable.

The source expressed confidence it could be done.

He was, statistically, exactly right. Emmer brought the race back from a 12 point blowout to a near-tie, with numbers that pretty steadily improved – according to the party’s own internal polling.


On October 11, I held a “Bloggers For Emmer” event at an undisclosed location in the western subs.  It had been ten busy weeks since my off-the-record conversation with my source in the campaign.  An Emmer functionary told me – off the record – that it was now a four point race.  

A week later, within ten days of the election, the same internal poll said the race was a statistical dead heat.

Then came the last-minute hit polls from the Humphrey Instititute, the Strib and Saint Cloud State – after which Emmer released his internal polling, which was reinforced by a Survey USA poll that more or less reinforced the internal polls’ results.

And then came the election.

Last week, David Brauer at the MinnPost interviewed Emmer campaign manager Cullen Sheehan.  As part of the piece, he graphed the respective polls: Emmer’s internal polling (orange), the Strib poll (wide dashes) and the HHH poll (dots), showing the indicated size of the Dayton lead.

Graph used by permission of the MinnPost

Graph used by permission of the MinnPost


Although “internal numbers” often become propagandistic leaks, Sheehan insists the data was not for public pre-election consumption. Though he wound up releasing the most favorable result during the campaign, it proved prescient, and two independent pollsters subsequently showed similar results.

And while Brauer points out that internal numbers “aren’t holy” – and many leftybloggers openly guffawed when Sheehan released them – the GOP’s internal numbers have a long record of accuracy, in my experience.  In 2002, when the Strib poll had Roger Moe measuring the drapes in the mansion, a GOP source leaked me internal polling showing that Pawlenty was tied and rising.  And internal polling released to a group of bloggers a month before the election showed Chip Cravaack pulling close to Jim Oberstar; numbers that the campaign asked be kept off the record showed that with “leaners”, Cravaack was actually leading.

So for all the leftyblogs’ caterwauling about “push polling”, the GOP’s internal polls – as seen both publicly and behind the scenes – called things as they were.  There’s a reason for that; parties need to accurate polling to help them allocate scarce resources effectively.  The DFL has not released their internal polling – but the Dayton campaign’s behavior indicates to me that they also saw Emmer’s late surge, leading them to re-roll-out the “Drunk Driving Ad” (the closest the Dayton campaign ever came to a coherent policy statement, with full irony intended).

But neither sides’ internal polling is affiliated with a major media outlet.  The Strib, Minnesota Public Radio and MinnPost all have symbiotic relationships with Princeton, the Humphrey Institute and Saint Cloud State, respectively (though to be accurate the MinnPost only paid for three questions in the SCSU poll, and those were, according to Brauer, on ranked-choice voting).  Those relationships, presumably, exist so that the news outlets can get “their” results out to the public first.

No matter how they’re arrived at, or so it seems.

Brauer confirms after the fact what my sources in the campaign told me, off the record, at the time; it was a real numerical rollercoaster ride:

Although “internal numbers” often become propagandistic leaks, Sheehan insists the data was not for public pre-election consumption. Though he wound up releasing the most favorable result during the campaign, it proved prescient, and two independent pollsters subsequently showed similar results.

“It really is, internally, a compass,” Sheehan says of the campaign’s polling.

Emmer’s own numbers show a candidate trailing — sometimes badly — for nearly the entire race.

On July 28 — three weeks after Emmer’s interminable “tip credit” debacle — the Republican trailed Dayton by 11 points. Ironically, the Star Tribune poll — which Republicans say overstates DFL support — had it closer: Dayton plus-10.

It was a demonstrable fact that the Strib poll oversampled DFL voters by a big margin – but that’s a poll-technique discussion to be held some other time.

In the wake of the double-digit gap, Sheehan took over as campaign manager. But by early October, the internal numbers had barely budged: Emmer was still down 7. A Strib survey taken a week or so earlier showed the Republican down 9 — again, pretty close to what the campaign was seeing.

Finally, on Oct. 13, Emmer got his first great inside news: he was only down 1. But the next media poll (SurveyUSA/KSTP) had him down 5, and an Oct. 18 internal poll repeated that number. It was two weeks before Election Day.

And then came the Big Three media polls, one after the other – the Strib, SCSU and the Humphrey polls – showing Emmer 9, 10 and 12 points down, respectively.  At which point Sheehan opted to release the internal numbers – which were shortly reinforced by SUSA.


“At that point [right before the election – the polls on which I’ve focused throughout this series], undecided voters are making up their minds and supporters are getting anxious, having seen 7 down, 10 down and 12 down,” Sheehan says. “It impacts fundraising and volunteers. It’s definitely not the only factor, but it is a factor.”

Sheehan, now the Minnesota GOP Senate caucus chief of staff, is a Republican, but Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s pollster feels similarly. Reid’s internal numbers proved better than media polls predicting his opponent would win.

Says Sheehan, “The point I am making is that outside public polls have an impact on campaigns — ultimately, some impact on eventual outcome of campaigns, especially in close races.”

At least one media outlet agreed even before the results were known. This year, the Star Tribune declined to do its traditional final-weekend poll. A key reason, editor Nancy Barnes told me, is that “a poll can sometimes influence the outcome of an election.”

Sheehan’s plea? Withhold questionable numbers. “I’m under no illusion that public polls will cease, but I do think news organizations have a responsibility to ask themselves, when they get their results, if they really believe they’re accurate,” he says.

I’ve met Sheehan not a few times.  Great guy.  Big future in politics.  Now, I’m not sure if he’s ever read this series; if he has, I’m sure he needs to be diplomatic.  He’s gotta get along with the regional media.

But the fact remains that the closer the race got, the farther off-the-beam the Strib and HHH polls swerved.

Just the same as they do in practically every election, especially the close ones.

So Sheehan has a point; the news media should treat suspicious polls as they would a source that’s burned them. 

Seriously – can you imagine Erik Black or Bill Salisbury or David Brauer putting a story on the front page (or “page”) based on the uncorroborated word of a source that had burned them, over and over again?  As in, not even close, but really, really embarassingly burned?

And the Strib and Humphrey Polls have burned the regional media – over and over and over again.

Presuming, of course, that accuracy is what they’re shooting for.

More later today.

Why Did Emmer Lose?

The dust is finally settling.  The campaign is over.  We have a “governor”-elect.

So what went wrong with the Emmer campaign?

We’ll come back to that.  First, let’s talk about what went right.  Emmer ran a campaign he can be proud of, to the extent that he, personally, never stooped to the Dayton campaign’s level of untruth and sleaze.   He took the high road, and stayed there, without excepttion – even chiding Ed and I when we interviewed him at the State Fair for calling Dayton “the opposition”. 

And the statewide GOP landslide in legislative elections showed that he was the right candidate for the times; the new conservative majority will, near as I can tell, be pushing an agenda not much unlike Emmer’s.  I’m by no means ready to write off widespread fraud, personally – but that’s a battle for investigators and lawyers to gnosh out or, ideally, for the Legislature to interdict with sweeping electoral reform.

So what happened?

Drip Drip Drip: “Alliance For A Better Minnesota” was on the ground the afternoon Emmer won the nomination, first with a website and then a TV ad campaign that I spent the better part of six months debunking, one point after the next.  It was the most toxic, sleazy third “third party” campaign in Minnesota history (paid for by the Dayton family and ex-family, it wasn’t “third party” at all) – and it hit paydirt with an ad campaign featuring a teary-eyed mother recounting her son’s death in an accident with a drunk driver.  The woman then mentioned Emmer’s two 30-year-old alcohol-related driving convictions, and mouthed outrage that Emmer proposed legislation to “reduce punishments for drunk drivers”.

Mark Twain once said that a lie will go around the world while the truth is waiting in line for its morning latté.  The corollary to that is that it takes seven seconds to tell an effective lie, and a couple of minutes to refute the lie – but the average political consumer’s attention span is about seven seconds.   ABM lied – I busted them over and over , as did Channel 5 – but they were never held accountable for it. 

Anecdotally?  I heard from GOP activists all over the state that they heard from people whose only real impression of Emmer was that he was “a drunk driver”, throughout the summer.

 Erin Haust at the Minnesota Examiner addressed the ad in her own post-mortem of the campaign in the MN Examiner:

The ad, and subsequent silence from the Emmer campaign to refute the claims, clearly negatively effected the election results. Keeping in mind local races resulted in the Minnesota House and Senate changing to Republican control for the first time in decades, the blame for losing at the top of the ticket must be placed squarely on the state party and the Emmer campaign for reasons other than just one ad.

True.  But the response to the ad was a symptom of the next reason.

Can You Spare Me A Dime:  One of the reasons Emmer didn’t respond to the ad, other than taking the high road, was that the campaign spent virtually nothing on advertising until after the primaries, and really nothing much until Labor Day.  During the primaries, oddly enough, all three DFL candidates spent most of their ad money attacking Emmer – indeed, it’s kind of curious how in sync all three of them were before Dayton’s primary win.  Very, very curious.

But I digress. Emmer didn’t respond.  It was a matter of fiscal prudence; it also allowed ABM to frame the entire discussion.  By the time Greater, Non-Republican  Minnesota heard anything about Emmer, he was “the angry guy”, “the drunk driver” or, if the good guys were lucky, “Tom Who?” to a big chunk of Minnesota.

It made fiscal sense, but it meant the Emmer campaign was framed from the very beginning. 

Emmer gambled, to a great extent, by not spending the rest of the campaign un-framing himself, but rather pushing his own, positive message and agenda.   Had the election been held a month later, I bet it’d have worked. 

But on November 2, there were 8,000 more Minnesotans (or maybe 2,000, with 6,000 stuffed ballots; we just don’t know) who were still drooling “G’huck, isn’t he the angry drunk guy” before walloping their kids while standing in line at the liquor store.

So close.  So very, very close.

Antisocial:  I’ve copped to it many times; I’m not primarily a social conservative.  Oh, I’m anti-infanticide, and think that while there’s a case to be made for civil unions as a legal contract I believe marriage is religious and ergo none of the state’s business.   I’ve said it not a few times; Emmer got my attention at the 2009 State Fair, when he said the election was about jobs and the economy, not gay marriage.   And Emmer strenuously avoided social-conservative talk throughout the campaign – to the point where during the final debate at the Fitzgerald Theatre, when Gary Eichten pressed him to discuss whether he’d use the bully pulpit to curtail the “right” to infanticide.

In short, Emmer left social conservative issues on the table.  Perhaps he’d assume that socialcons would read the fact that’s a Catholic guy with seven kids and draw all the conclusions they’d need to come to the polls and vote for him.   When was the last time a pol overestimated the intelligence of the voting public?

There’s evidence that it was a mistake.  A Laurence survey showed that gay marriage – or, rather, the idea that Dayton and Horner would use the courts or a DFL legislature to jam down gay marriage, like in Iowa – was a huge swing issue for voters.   A bit of stupid anti-Catholic bigotry from the State DFL may have swung the SD40 race for Dan Hall.  And I wouldn’t doubt that there are 10 Swarthy-Americans in Saint Cloud that were offended by this toxic DFL gaffe, just enough to put King Banaian into office.

And don’t forget Chip Cravaack, who ran a good jobs ‘n economics campaign, but did not allow the voters to forget that “pro-life” Jim Oberstar had betrayed his pro-life constituents by caving in to The One on providing infanticide via Obamacare.

Didn’t seem to harm him much.

From Out Of The Bag: The above might have been unforced “errors” – or maybe not errors at all.  It’s hard to say, but it’s easy to be a Monday-Morning Quarterback.   The fact is, other than the spending deficit and the early flub in handling the “Waiter Tips” teapot-tempest, Emmer ran a decent campaign.  Indeed, watching the candidate debates – all 3,174 of them – it was hard to miss the fact that Dayton was a bumbling chanting-point-bot, and Horner was a slick, highly-polished talking-point-bot.  Emmer cleaned the floor with both of them in every debate I saw (although I only saw like 400 of them).

But the media was in the bag for Dayton.  Oh, the Strib endorsed Horner, but out in the streets, the media’s real agenda – anyone but Emmer, and please, please, we want a DFL governor after all these years, was loud and clear.

Haust catches part of it:

Dayton’s history of ties to socialist, progressive groups is far from secret. Dayton spokeswoman and Executive Director of Alliance for a Better Minnesota, Denise Cardinal, was a featured speaker alongside self-avowed communist and community organizer Van Jones at the America’s Future Now! conference last summer. They and other speakers demanded redistribution of wealth in the United States and discussed radical, revolutionary tactics to accomplish that end. Neither the state party nor the Emmer campaign made the connection between radicals like Cardinal and Van Jones and the Dayton campaign…Dayton’s campaign received millions of dollars from groups and individuals linked to socialists, progressives and communists. George Soros funded organizations like Democracy Alliance contributed heavily to his campaign. Soros himself is scheduled to co-host a fundraiser for Dayton in the coming week.

The Republican Party of Minnesota and the Emmer campaign failed to take advantage of the national media attention Dayton’s friends and allies were receiving during the campaign and throughout the recount.

True, perhaps – but it’s for sure that the state’s media didn’t go near any of it, either.  Indeed, the media failed to report – or report meaningfully at any time between the endorsing process and the election – about Dayton’s…:

  • mental health state. 
  • alcoholism
  • relapses – when, how recently, how severe, and why?
  • quitting his job as economic development commissioner under Rudy Perpich
  • closure of his DC Senate offices in 2005 
  • record as a New York “Teacher” – it was up to Sheila Kihne to find out that “the toughest job of his life” lasted sixteen months of working about 1/3 of the time until his draft status let up.
  • Educational record – the University of Massachussetts at Amherst won’t say if he got his teaching certificate (or, indeed, whether he completed any course work at all) – which’d be an odd bit of history for someone who opposes alternative teacher licensing.

Oh, the bloggers investigated it all.  And the mainstream political media – Rachel Stassen-Berger, Tom Scheck, Tim Pugmire, Bill Salisbury, Pat Doyle, Pat Kessler – studiously avoided touching any of the topics.  (or, to be fair to Rachel Stassen-Berger, they avoided addressing them after January of 2010, long before anyone outside the wonk class was paying ahny attention to the election).

And after remembering the feeding frenzy the media went into over, say, Morgan Grams (the son of Rod Grams, Senator until 2000, whose estranged son got into legal trouble that drew slavering coverage from the Twin Cities media, even though Grams had had almost nothign to do with raising him after his divorce from Morgan’s mother…

…details of which we got the kind of detail that made everyone an expert in Rod Grams’ personal life.

So why didn’t Mark Dayton, the man who would be governor, the guy who has to try to un-flock a “6.2 billion dollar deficit”, warrant the same level of scrutiny?

Why do you think?

There are some lessons to learn here – and, hopefully, institutionalize.  Because I have a hunch we’ll be running for an open seat again in four years.

Miten Se Hopey-Changey Juttu Menossa Sinulle?

A sign of the times – Finnish-Americans voted heavily Republican for the first time:

Around 100 years ago Finnish immigrants flocked to the mines and woods of the country around Lake Superior, where the topography and weather must have seemed familiar. They’ve been a mostly Democratic, sometimes even radical voting bloc ever since. No more, it seems. Going into the election, the three most Finnish districts, Michigan 1, Wisconsin 7 and Minnesota 8, all fronting on Lake Superior, were represented by two Democratic committee chairmen and the chairman of an Energy and Commerce subcommittee, with a total of 95 years of seniority.

Wisconsin’s David Obey and Michigan’s Bart Stupak both chose to retire, and were replaced by Republicans who had started running before their announcements. Minnesota’s James Oberstar was upset by retired Northwest pilot and stay-at-home dad Chip Cravaack.

So here’s a new rule for the political scientists: As go the Finns, so goes America.

Obama must feel like he’s in a sauna right about now…

One Day At The Crow Wing County Courthouse, Part II

When we left Monty Jensen, it was Friday, October 29.  He’d just seen a scene that disturbed him; supervisors from a Brainerd-area group home voting for their charges who, while they had the legal right to vote, didn’t seem to have much idea where they were or what they were doing (which, if I were much less sober and reflective than I am these days, I would say “makes them a perfect DFL constituency”.  But I am more sober and reflective these days).

Jensen chewed on what he’d seen overnight – and then took a shot in the dark.

“I called George Burton”, he says, referring to the Constitution Party candidate for Jim Oberstar’s seat.   Burton got Jensen in touch with the Minnesota Freedom Council, one of a small network of grassroots groups that is scrutinizing Minnesota’s election system.

Acting on their advice, Jensen started to work.  “About 10:30 Saturday morning (October 30), I looked up Don Ryan, the Crow Wing County attorney, in the phone book.   I tried him a couple of times, with no answer. ”

“Then I tried Ron Kaus, at the Minnesota Freedom Council.  I’d never heard of him in my life.  I spoke with him – and he got right on it.  They wanted all the information – and he asked me to meet at the courthouse and tell him  how everything went down.  When we got there, he asked me if he could record the conversation.  We didn’t talk for five minutes before the recording started; I told my story”.

Here’s the story, for those who missed it the first time:
Here’s part I of the video…:

…along with Part II…:

…and Part III.

Jensen recalls “We went through and did the video.  I was kinda on the hot seat.  And from there, we  started trying to do the investigation”.  He got some advice from Kaus;  “If you want this investigated, you need to do it as an affadavit; the complaint form will just get filed away”. 

So Jensen spent the weekend writing the complaint.  On Monday morning, he was ready to turn it in.

“On Monday morning, I brought four copies in.  The auditor notarized them, and kept one”.  Then, Jensen went to the County Attorney’s office.  “Being that it was Monday before election day…I handed it to him personally.  He said he didn’t know what he could do with the election the next day, so all the votes would count.  But he said they’d follow up with the investigation.”

Later on, Jensen said the County Attorney’s office called to say the Crow Wing County Sheriff’s office had assigned an investigator.  On Thursday, November 4 – two days after the election – Jensen met with that investigator for about 90 minutes.  “He stated that they’d been speaking with certain group homes, had a list of ballots turned in during the time frame, and had everything to back up the story”.

And that, for the most part, was the last Monty Jensen has heard from Crow Wing County.


Toward the end of our conversation, Jensen reflected.  “The other day, I was talking with my girlfriend.  I asked “Am I crazy, or is something going on here?”

We’ll get the girlfriend’s answer straight from her, later this week.

It’s In The Name

Earl Pomeroy – who was as untouchable as Jim Oberstar two years ago – is out in North Dakota.

He lost 55-45 to Chris Berg – no relation that I know of, although I hope to run that down soon.   And with that, North Dakota – which has been represented entirely by Democrats in DC since the eighties – is suddenly 2/3 Republican, and Kent Conrad has got to be sizing up lobbying as a career change.

We shocked the world.

At The Victory Party

I’m at the Sheraton for the GOP’s victory party.  Early word – unconfirmed – is that turnout in Duluth and the Twin Cities is a little low. I haven’t gotten any but anecdotal confirmation that turnout in “red” Minnesota is high, but the anecdotal feedback is good.

We shall see.

Liveblogging will be a tad light, but I”ll do what I can here…

7:35: TV guys are firing up.  Early results are looking good so far.

7:47 – Bandwidth is tight; hard to update Twitter.

UPDATE 11/3:  And then our bandwidth situation went from bad to ridiculous, and a bunch of stuff happened, and we took control of the US House and flipped both chambers of the MN Legislature and Bachmann and Kline won by one point more than my optimistic predictions and Erik Paulsen shredded Jim Meffert by 21 and proved that the “conventional wisdom” about the Third District is bullpucks and then Chip Cravaack pulled ahead and stayed there and Tom Emmer ended up so freaking close it hurts, and then we went home.