Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Minnesota will keep it's eight seats.

It's just been announced by the Census Bureau that Minnesota will keep all of it's congressional seats, with Missouri being the "bubble boy."

Monday, December 20, 2010

The politics of poverty

In Friday's "This Week in Redistricting" post I linked to the results of the American Community Survey (or ACS), which is where most of the demographic information that is used by the Census Bureau comes from.

They then took this information and put it into some maps.

One of the maps that I found particularly interesting is titled, percent of people below poverty level in the past 12 months. That map looks like this.

Friday, December 17, 2010

This Week in Redistricting 12/17

The big news is that the first batch of census data will be released on Monday Tuesday. This is the data that will let us know if we lose a congressional seat or not. While we wait for that, here is a nice juicy link to whet your appetite.

  • The Census Bureau has released the 2010 Community Survey Estimates, which is what replaced the dreaded long form in this years census.

    The data released today are based on a rolling annual sample survey mailed to about 3 million addresses between Jan. 1, 2005, and Dec. 31, 2009. By pooling several years of survey responses, the ACS can generate detailed statistical portraits of smaller geographies. The Census Bureau will release a new set of 5-year estimates every year, giving these communities a powerful tool to track local trends over time.

    There are a lot of interesting maps to look at, if you're into that kind of thing.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Bachmann leads field of non-contenders

PPP polled Republican Primary voters about their preferences for who should run for the Senate against Amy Klobuchar, not surprisingly Michele Bachmann leads the field, a field with very few possible challengers.

Public Policy Polling (12/10 Republican Primary voters, no trend lines):
Michele Bachmann (R): 36
Tim Pawlenty: 20
Norm Coleman: 14
Chip Craavack: 7
Tom Emmer: 6
John Kline: 5
Laura Brod: 4
Eric Paulson: 2
Some else/not sure: 6
(MoE: ±5%)

Friday, December 10, 2010

This Week in Redistricting 12/10

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

First poll of 2012 Senate race; Nothing to see here

PPP polled the 2012 Minnesota Senate race and found Amy Klobuchar leading the five GOPers they tested her against and garnering over 50% of the vote against them all. Long story short, Amy Klobuchar will be very difficult to beat in 2012.

Here's the breakdown of the match-ups.

PPP (12/7, no trend lines):
Amy Klobuchar (D): 56
Michele Bachmann (R): 39
Undecided: 4

Amy Klobuchar (D): 54
Norm Coleman (R): 40
Undecided: 6

Amy Klobuchar (D): 56
Tom Emmer (R): 38
Undecided: 6

Amy Klobuchar (D): 53
Tim Pawlenty (R): 43
Undecided: 4

Amy Klobuchar (D): 52
Eric Paulson (R): 34
Undecided: 14
(MoE: ±3.2%)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Redistricting: A Minnesota History

For some context on the coming battle over redistricting, let's take a look at the checkered past of redistricting in Minnesota, a process that has a consistent history of dysfunction.

The information in this post is largely based on a presentation by Peter Wattson from the Minnesota Senate Council at the Minnesota Redistricting Forum. A copy of his presentation can be found here.

Friday, December 3, 2010

This Week in Redistricting 12/3

Things will probably be quiet in the world of redistricting until the initial census numbers start to come out in January. So these posts might be a little light till then.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A quick note and some eye candy

I won't be posting as much post-election as I did pre-election, but I hope to keep up something of a regular pace.

There are many things still to wrap up from the election, including;

  • A Post-mortem
  • Updated hPVIs

and because 2012 can't come too soon, I'll start the house and senate versions of the

  • Most Vulnerable GOP Incumbents

Additionally I will continue to cover the redistricting process as it unfolds and provide background during the lead up.

If there are any suggestions for topics to cover, the comments of this thread would be the place for it.

In the meantime, here's a little something to consider, it's a chart of the partisan make-up of the Minnesota legislature, before and after the election.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Minnesota Redistricting Forum Overview

On the 17th of November the Humphrey Institute hosted "Redrawing the Boundaries: A Redistricting Workshop for Minnesota Citizens, Grassroots Organizers and Policy Advocates."

The presenters at the forum came from a diverse collection of organizations; Common Cause Minnesota, The Brennan Center for Justice, George Mason University, NAACP Legal Defense Fund, League of Women Voters, Minnesota Senate Counsel and the Citizens League.

In this post I will give you an overview of the event; what the presentations were about and some of the highlights. In the future I plan to get into more detail on many of these topics.

Friday, November 19, 2010

This week in Redistricting 11/19

  • MidwestRedistricting.org is a great resource for information on redistricting specific to our region of the country. The site is a collaboration of Midwest Democracy Network, the Brennan Center for Justice and George Mason University.

    On Wednesday the League of Women Voters hosted a redistricting forum featuring these organizations that I'll have a more extensive write-up on next week.

    In the meantime, here's a link to a two page pdf about Minnesota specifically. It goes over the process and criteria used in redistricting.

  • One positive outcome of election day was that Minneapolis approved question 1:

    Should the City of Minneapolis adopt a change in its charter by eliminating the Redistricting Commission and giving the responsibility for redistricting of city wards, park board districts and Minneapolis school board districts to the Charter Commission, with input from an advisory group appointed by the Charter Commission?

    It's a start.

  • Sean Trende of RealClearPolitics has a state by state overview of redistricting. About Minnesota he says:

    Right now it is neck-in-neck between Minnesota and Missouri for the 435th district, with Minnesota holding the short straw. With a Democratic Governor and Republican legislature, the Republicans will probably find themselves unable to complete their longstanding goal of combining Minneapolis and St. Paul into one district. If the governor and legislature can't agree, a judicial panel will draw the map. The 4-4 split between the parties makes it hard to predict a loser, especially since the Republican districts have been growing sharply and 3 of the 4 Democratic districts lost population. A panel would probably opt to draw a Republican and Democrat into an evenly-balanced district.

  • Mike Stark outlines how the GOP could use The Dark Scenario to ram through a redistricting bill that accomplishes their goal of combining Minneapolis and St. Paul.

    This is the real danger of the dark scenario in my view. If the Republicans draw the map they want, it's conceivable that they could get a 6-2 congressional map and hold the state legislature in 2012.

  • In my post on Wednesday I mentioned the split-line algorithm for drawing district lines. This is another automated method, with the prime directive being:

    The best district map is the one where people have the lowest average distance to the center of their district.

    I'm not so sure I agree with that statement, but the maps are interesting nonetheless.

  • Dave's Redistricting App has updated to version 2.0.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Redistricting: The process and proposals for change

The GOP is already gearing up for the fight, as was reported earlier:

Republican Party of Minnesota Chairman Tony Sutton today announced that Deputy Chairman Michael Brodkorb will serve as the Party's redistricting lead.

With that pleasant thought in mind I'm going to do something I've never done before, repost an old post, the very first blog post I wrote in fact, from all the way back in December of 2008.

I'll be posting more on redistricting in the future, and intended to do a sort of redistricting background piece, but this more than fits the bill. Obviously some of the references are now out of date (Majority leader Larry Pogemiller for one) but all of the info pertaining to redistricting is still relevant.

Here than is the re posting of...

"Please don't take my mother out of my district."

Monday, November 15, 2010

SurveyUSA polls the Governor's race again

SurveyUSA (11/10, 10/28 in parentheses):
Mark Dayton (D): 45 (39)
Tom Emmer (R): 44 (38)
Tom Horner (I): 9 (13)
Undecided: 1 (6)
(MoE: ±3%)

KSTP decided that it would be fun to resurvey the Minnesota Governor's race, you know, now that we know the outcome and everything.

What they found was confirmation of what happened and although we have actual ballots to tell us Mark Dayton won, the ballots don't tell us about some of the underlying numbers that this poll sheds a little light on.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Friday Fela; Gentleman

Now that the election is over and we're settling into another political cycle, I want to start doing a bit more non-political stuff. To that end I'm starting this series, Friday Fela. I hope you like it.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usFor those who aren't familiar with him, Fela Kuti was born in Nigeria in 1938 and was the origionator of the afrobeat style of music. In 1958 his parents sent him to London to go to medical school but he instead went to music school.

While on tour in Los Angeles in 1969 he discovered American Black Nationalism and his music quickly grew more political. When he went back to Nigeria he formed the Kalakuta Republic, a sort of community center/commune/socialist experiment.

The period from 1970 to 1977 would prove to be Fela's most prolific musically and influential politically. He would release no less than 24 albums during this period, most of them consisting of two or three songs, with each song lasting around 15 minutes, which is why you never hear him on the radio.

In 1977 the Nigierian government raided the Kalakuta Republic and threw his 82 year old mother out of a second story window, eventually resulting in her death. This event marks the end of Fela's prolific music making period and the beginning of his more overtly political ambitions.

Fela died in 1997 from complications related to AIDS. This press release from the United Democratic Front of Nigeria is a fitting summation of Fela's life:

Those who knew you well were insistent that you could never compromise with the evil you had fought all your life. Even though made weak by time and fate, you remained strong in will and never abandoned your goal of a free, democratic, socialist Africa.

Now on to Friday Fela...

The T-Pawmentum builds

While PPP was in the field polling the Governor's race they were also asking about Presidential preference in 2012, here are the results for Minnesota.

Public Policy Polling (10/30, likely voters, no trend lines):
Tim Pawlenty: 19
Sarah Palin: 18
Mike Huckabee: 14
Mitt Romney: 11
Newt Gingrich: 11
Mitch Daniels: 3
Mike Pence: 3
John Thune: 2
Someone else/Undecided: 18
(MoE: ±4.4%)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

This week in Redistricting

I don't know if this will be an ongoing series or not, but now that I don't have GPI updates to keep me busy I might as well try to start another post factory.

So here than is a rundown of redistricting news and related stuff. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Polling in Minnesota Governor's races; part 2

This is part two of a series I began yesterday. Part one can be found here.

In yesterdays post I went through some past Minnesota elections and the polling associated with them. What I found is that polling in Minnesota Governor's races has exhibited a consistent DFL bias, by between 4-5 points on average.

I concluded the post with this:

There are two possibilities; either the polls themselves are wrong, or the polls are right and the GOP candidate is receiving a wave of support at the end of the race.

It's those possibilities that I will deal with today.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Polling in Minnesota Governor's races; part 1

This was intended to be one post but quickly developed into a monster that just had to be segmented. While I am certainly not above splitting posts up simply for the sake of more posts, that is not the case in this instance.

The following comment from ldc sums it up:

I haven't seen a good explanation for why they were so far off, not just MPR/Humphrey but others too. At least in the Nevada senate race, they could explain the difference in pollster vs real election results by the Latino vote and whether the pollsters gave a Spanish language option. So what is the answer here??

She is right in that there doesn't appear to be an easy explanation like in some other states for the inaccuracies of some of the Minnesota Governor's race polls. I have advanced the argument before that errors in 2006 polling was due to late breaking events in that race that caused undecided voters to break heavily for Tim Pawlenty.

What about 2002 than? In that year the pollsters correctly predicted a Pawlenty win, but missed the final margin by about the same amount as in 2006 and 2010, 5 points. On the other hand polling in Minnesota Senate races, and Presidential races, has been rather accurate. Is there something about Minnesota Governor's races that makes polling them especially difficult?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Election polling and predictions


Post-election brain dump

I'm not going to spend a lot of time on any one topic but instead just get a bunch of stuff out that's twirling around in my head. Each of these topics is probably deserving of it's own post, but that will come later. Right now I have to get this stuff out of my head so I can move on with my life.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Governor Projection

The results are still trickling in, but I now have enough information to put up a preliminary projection.

This is based on partial results from the counties, so take it with a grain of salt, but right now I project the final numbers to be:

Mark Dayton (D): 45
Tom Emmer (R): 41

See this post for background info.

Weather in victory or defeat...

...this bottle of Cuvee Rene is getting drank tonight!

Outcome Prediction System

I'm going to try something tonight, that is to predict the final outcome, as returns come in, based on vote totals in some key counties.

Sound fun?

I'll provide a little background on what I'm doing in this post and than start an actual Outcome Estimator post when returns start coming in.

I will be doing this at MN Progressive Project so that I don't have to keep two separate threads going.

Final GPI; Dayton with a 5 point lead

Here is the final GPI.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

Additionally Nate Silver puts Mark Dayton's odds of winning at 86% and his weighted average is virtually identical to the one above.

Mark Dayton has lead the entire month of October by about five points, but this race will all come down to turnout. The DFL has the advantage in that regard, we just need to capitalize on it.

That said, there is still a 14% chance that everyone is wrong. One of the data points that makes up that 14% is of course the 2006 Minnesota Governor's race. In that contest Mike Hatch had a three point lead in the simple polling average 45.5-42.5 and lost 46-47, a four point swing for Tim Pawlenty.

To avoid that fate again we need to GOTV like mad. So everyone who doesn't have anything to do today, GOTV.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Predicting turnout on Tuesday

I wrote a post before the primary election on predicting turnout. That was quite a bit more involved since there was the issue of the new summer date to consider. Predicting turnout this Tuesday should be a little more straight forward since there are not really any unknown variables to consider, unless you think there will be a GOP surge.

I'm not discounting that possibility, I just don't think that it will have nearly the same effect in Minnesota where we already turnout at a high rate.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Races to watch on election day; MN Senate edition

I want to start with a bit of clarification, I omitted from the House edition post, the methodology behind the three metrics I'm using and why I'm only using those three metrics. To be clear, these were not chosen at random, but rather have had the most predictive power in past Minnesota elections that I've analysed.

A few notes about those metrics.

When I refer to the amount of money raised by a candidate, I talking about the amount raised in individual contributions this year, not total amount raised or cash on hand or anything else. This metric gives us some idea of how much support a candidate has in the absence of polling.

This is by no means a perfect measure, but it has decent predictive power in that incumbents who raise significantly more than their opponent rarely lose, and those who raise significantly less, are in danger of losing.

The other metrics I'm using are; 2006 vote shares and hPVI.

With that out of the way, let's get on with the Minnesota Senate edition of "Races to watch."

One more quick thing about that PPP poll

In my rush to get the GPI update up last night before heading off to a series of Halloween parties, I overlooked something interesting in the crosstabs. That is, who people that have already voted, voted for. Those numbers are:

Public Policy Polling (10/30, those who have voted, no trend lines):
Mark Dayton (D): 55
Tom Emmer (R): 36
Tom Horner (I): 6

It's not a huge part of the sample, only 9%, but still a good indicator for Mark Dayton.

That is all.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

GPI update; PPP 's first MN-Gov poll shows a small Dayton lead

Public Policy Polling (10/30, likely voters, no trend lines):
Mark Dayton (D): 43
Tom Emmer (R): 40
Tom Horner (I): 15
Undecided: 3
(MoE: ±2.2%)

A few things about this poll that should be noted. One, PPP interviewed 2,058 likely voters for a tiny 2.2% margin of error. This is the largest sample any pollster has yet taken of the Minnesota Governor's race and it should make us that much more confident in the results.

Friday, October 29, 2010

New CD8 poll confirms tight race

SurveyUSA (10/28, likely voters, no trend lines):
Rep. Jim Oberstar (D): 47
Chip Cravaack (R): 46
George Burton (CP): 3
Undecided: 4
(MoE: ±3.9%)

We finally get a public poll of congressional district eight and it confirms the internal poll that the Chip Cravaack campaign released a few weeks ago. It's clear that this race is tight and the internals of this poll have to be troubling for Jim Oberstar.

The partisan composition of the poll is 41% Dem, 28% GOP and 28% Indy, Cravaack is keeping it close by winning independents 56-32, which doesn't bode well for Oberstar's chances of winning the remaining undecided vote.

One caveat, of course, is what I talked about earlier today in regards the the SUSA poll of the Governor's race, automated polls this year have skewed in the GOPs direction by an average of two points, according to Nate Silver. Survey USA in particular has skewed right by four points on average.

Regardless of that, Jim Oberstar is in a close race, something he's not used to and he will need to make sure that democratic voters in CD8 turnout for him on election day. And it appears that is exactly what he is doing.

GPI update; SurveyUSA goes cellphone style, GPI stabilizes

SurveyUSA (10/28, likely voters, 10/14 in parentheses):
Mark Dayton (D): 39 (42)
Tom Emmer (R): 38 (37)
Tom Horner (I): 13 (14)
Undecided: 6 (4)
(MoE: ±4%)

This is the first poll in a while thats shown Mark Dayton below 40% and while his numbers have slipped since the last SUSA poll, that could just be float within the margin of error rather than a decline.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Emmer camp disputes MPR poll, releases internal

Public Opinion Stratagies (10/28, likely voters, no trend lines):
Mark Dayton (D): 40
Tom Emmer (R): 40
Tom Horner (I): 13
Undecided: -
(MoE: ±4.38%)

In response to the release of the MPR/Humphrey Institute poll showing Tom Emmer down by 12 points to Mark Dayton, the Emmer campaign released an internal poll by POS conducted on October 24th and 25th that shows the race tied.

I'll let the infamous Cullen Sheehan take it from here:

All polls are snapshots in time. The new MPR/Humphrey Institute results are an unfortunately predictable snapshot in absurdity. The HHH poll's track record rivals only television weather forecasters for accuracy. Four years ago this same poll predicted that Mike Hatch would beat Tim Pawlenty by six percentage points. Minnesota should be as confident in this poll's prediction as Governor Hatch was during the last gubernatorial campaign.

GPI update; Emmer below 30 again

MPR/Humphrey (10/28, likely voters, 9/29 in parentheses):
Mark Dayton (D): 41 (38)
Tom Emmer (R): 29 (27)
Tom Horner (I): 13 (16)
Undecided: 20 (20)
(MoE: ±5.5%)

MPR released it's last poll of the Governor's race this morning and they don't find a whole lot has changed since last time, other than Horner losing a few points to the other two candidates, which other polls had already shown.

If the undecided number seems high, it is, but The Humphrey Institute lumps undecided into the same category as "don't know," "refused," and "voting for someone else." It would be nice to see what the undecided number is all on it's lonesome.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

New CD1 poll; Tim Walz at 50%

SurveyUSA (10/27, likely voters, 10/15 in parentheses):
Rep. Tim Walz (D): 50 (47)
Randy Demmer (R): 41 (42)
Steven Wilson (I): 4 (4)
Undecided: 4 (5)
(MoE: ±4.1%)

This could just be float within the margin of error, rather than a Tim Walz surge, but either way there just aren't enough undecided voters left for Randy Demmer to pull off the upset. These are exactly the kinds of seats that Democrats need to win if they want to hang onto control of the house, but the rest of the Midwest might not be so friendly.

Races to watch on election day: MN House edition

This is the first post in a series about what races will be the most interesting to follow on election day. If you are looking for early indications about who's going to have a good night, these are some races you'll want to pay attention to.

A few notes about the metrics I'm using.

When I refer to the amount of money raised by a candidate, I talking about the amount raised in individual contributions this year, not total amount raised. This metric give us an idea of how much support a candidate has in the absence of polling.

This is by no means a perfect measure, but it has decent predictive power in that incumbents who raise significantly more than their opponent rarely lose, and those who raise significantly less, are in danger of losing.

The other metrics I'm using are; 2008 vote shares and hPVI.

With that out of the way, let's get on with the Minnesota House edition of "Races to watch."

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Bellwether County

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

Nicollet County has voted for the winning candidate in every Minnesota Gubernatorial and Senate race since 1998, it is the only county in Minnesota with such a distinction. Not only has Nicollet County consistently voted for the winning candidate, they have very closely predicted the final margin.

Monday, October 25, 2010

GPI update; another day, another poll

St. Cloud St. U (10/25, likely voters, no trend lines):
Mark Dayton (D): 40
Tom Emmer (R): 30
Tom Horner (I): 19
Undecided: 5
(MoE: ±5%)

While the initial reaction to this poll might be to think that Tom Horner is back in the thick of it, there are reasons to be skeptical.

GPI update; the Horner slide confirmed

StarTribune (PSRI) (10/24, likely voters, 9/26 in parentheses):
Mark Dayton (D): 41 (39)
Tom Emmer (R): 34 (30)
Tom Horner (I): 13 (18)
Undecided: 12 (12)
(MoE: ±3.9%)

This is now the third pollster to show Tom Horner sliding from his high-water mark of 18% down into the low teens, so it's clear that he has lost support, the question now becomes weather he can hold onto what he's got left or if the slide continues.

Friday, October 22, 2010

GPI update; Horner's slide continues

Rasmussen (10/22, likely voters, 10/6 in parentheses):
Mark Dayton (D): 44 (40)
Tom Emmer (R): 41 (38)
Tom Horner (I): 10 (15)
Undecided: 4 (5)
(MoE: ±4%)

This is the third poll in a row to show Mark Dayton with a 2-4 point lead over Tom Emmer and Tom Horner losing support since the last poll by the same pollster, although by a much more significant margin than we've previously seen. Despite what I wrote yesterday, there is now reason to believe that Tom Horner's support is in fact eroding, similar to what happened to Tim Penny in 2002, although I would certainly like to see another poll showing him this low before jumping to any conclusions.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Horner Effect, Part 3

As the Independence Party candidate in the Minnesota Governor's race, Tom Horner faces an uphill battle to get elected. Because of this the question that everyone ends up asking is; who will he take more votes from, Mark Dayton or Tom Emmer? History suggests that the success of Independence party candidates in Minnesota comes more at the expense of Democrats than Republicans, but the dynamics this year are different. Tom Horner is himself a former Republican and the GOP candidate, Tom Emmer, hails from the fringes of Republican extremism. Given those factors, the conventional wisdom has become that if Tom Horner hurts anyone it was going to be Tom Emmer.

This is the final chapter of a three part series on what effect we can expect Tom Horner to have on the Minnesota Gubernatorial election. In this installment I'm going to look at the polling and who it shows Tom Horner is having more of an adverse effect on. Part one of the series was a look at past Minnesota elections and part two was a look at how the 2010 election is different from those past Minnesota elections.

With that then, here is Part 3...

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Hutchinson Effect

This is a footnote of sorts to The Horner Effect series, part three of which will be done soon.

A few people have questioned why I left the 2006 Governor's race out of The Horner Effect series. I suppose I should have more explicitly addressed why it was left out, so I'll do that now and while I'm at it I'll go ahead and dispell some zombie myths about the 2006 election, many of which are conveniently contained in a diary on Swing State Project:

If recent Minnesota gubernatorial elections are any indication, the great equalizer will be the late October televised debates. Polls moved in double digits in both directions in a matter of a week based on Minnesota gubernatorial debates. If you impress there, you're golden. If you fail to impress, you're ruined. And that's true almost wherever your poll numbers may currently be. The Independence Party's articulate 2006 candidate Peter Hutchinson was not in a position to win, but he nonetheless impressed in the debates and managed to surge at Mike Hatch's expense, handing victory to Pawlenty.

This is simply not true. There is no evidence that Peter Hutchinson cost Mike Hatch the election, despite popular belief.

Monday, October 18, 2010

A Tale of Two Internals

More than two weeks ago Chip Cravaack's campaign released an internal poll showing him 3 points behind Jim Oberstar, 45-42. This put not only the CD8 race on Republicans radar, but next door in CD7 they assumed Colin Peterson must be vulnerable too. In response to the increasing chatter about weather he was in a tight race or not Peterson's campaign released an internal poll of their own showing him wiping the floor with Lee Byberg 54-20.

Not only can we learn something from these two polls, but how the series of events unfolded is also of educational value.

Friday, October 15, 2010

GPI update; SurveyUSA is back in the field

SurveyUSA (10/14, likely voters, 9/15 in parentheses):
Mark Dayton (D): 42 (38)
Tom Emmer (R): 37 (36)
Tom Horner (I): 14 (18)
Undecided: 4 (4)
(MoE: ±3.7%)

This is confirmation of where the current average has the race, although there are a few things about the poll itself worth pointing out.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Jamie Kilstein @ Acme Comedy Club

I saw Jamie at Acme last night for Insiders Night, and he was hilarious. When a comedian comes on the stage wearing a Democracy Now t-shirt you know you're in for an interesting show, here's a taste.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Horner Effect, Part 2

While history suggests that the Independence Party candidate in Minnesota tends to have success at the expense of the DFL candidate, there is reason think this year might be different. Part of that has to do with Tom Horner and part of that has to do with other factors, like the relative positions of the candidates on the liberal/conservative spectrum.

This is the second part of a three part series on what effect we can expect Tom Horner to have on the Minnesota Gubernatorial election. In this installment I'm going to look at how the 2010 election is different from past Minnesota elections. Part one of the series was a look at those past Minnesota elections and part three will take a look at what the polling shows is actually happening.

With that then, here is Part 2...

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Horner Effect, Part 1

While Minnesota has a rich history of third party successes, the recent era began in 1998 with the election of Jesse Ventura as Governor. Since then there have been two additional statewide elections in which the Independence Party candidate received a significant share of the vote, Tim Penny in the 2002 Governors race and Dean Barkley in the 2008 Senate race. This year certainly looks like it will be another as Tom Horner is over 16% in the current GPI.

This is the first part of a three part series on what effect we can expect Tom Horner to have on the Minnesota Gubernatorial election. In this installment I'm going to look at past statewide elections and the effect the Independence Party candidate had. Part two will attempt to show why 2010 is different than these past elections and part three will take a look at what the current polling shows is happening.

With that then, here is Part 1...

Friday, October 8, 2010

GPI update; Ras now says no to leaners

Rasmussen (10/6, likely voters, 9/22 in parentheses):
Mark Dayton (D): 40 (34)
Tom Emmer (R): 38 (36)
Tom Horner (I): 15 (18)
Undecided: 5 (2)
(MoE: ±4%)

A few things change with this update of the GPI, the first of which is something truly radical, standardizing the way I format new poll results. I put a lot of thought into what the most effective way to do it would be and after careful deliberation I decided to crib Swing State Project's poll formatting style, so if it looks familiar you know who to blame.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Who's polling The Minnesota Governors race

Only four pollsters; Rasmussen, SurveyUSA, Princeton Survey Research Associates (PSRA) and Humphrey Institute, have polled the Minnesota Governors race this year and with under a month left before the election it's unlikely that many more will jump in. In 2006 these same four pollsters (StarTribune had in-house polling in 2006, now they contract with PSRA) were joined by Mason-Dixon, St. Cloud St. and Polimetrix, so it's possible that one of them or someone else entirely will drop a poll on us but for now we're just going to look at who's been polling it so far.

A few notes on terms and formatting first.

PIE is Pollster Induced Error, a metric developed by Nate Silver, it's a measure of how much error, above average, a pollster contributes based on an analysis of past polls.

Past election results are listed as follows:
Race Polled: Last polling result (Actual results) Margin Difference
The margin difference is the polling margin minus the actual margin.

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Pollsters Dilema


What's up with SurveyUSA's 18-34 polling and other observations

This post is the result of a back and forth I had with Aaron Klemz at The Cucking Stool in the comments of his post about the age gap in the most recent SurveyUSA poll of the Minnesota Governor's race. This was my initial comment:

This has been a trend for SurveyUSA all year and not just in Minnesota. I find these numbers hard to believe and suspect they have more to do with a flaw SurveyUSA's methodology when it comes to young voters. Perhaps it's an issue with cell phones perhaps it's the fact that they are an automated pollster, who knows.

The more I've thought about this the more I think it's an issue deserving of discussion outside of a comment thread.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

GPI update; what happened to a tight race?

MPR/Humphrey released a new poll of the governor's race today and it's good news for the blue team. Not only do they show Mark Dayton with an 11 point edge, 38-27, the internals paint an even better picture.

• Minnesota voters have awoken from their summer slumber. More than 8 out of 10 Minnesotans are interested in the November elections, a substantial increase that is being propelled by the energizing of formerly turned-off Democrats.

•Horner is crippling Emmer's campaign, soaking up one-fifth of Republican voters while taking only half as much from Dayton.

• Dayton is tapping voter frustration and appears better positioned among voters who have not yet declared their support for a candidate.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Minnesota Senate Race Ratings

Last week I posted ratings for the Minnesota House races, this week it's the Senate's turn.

Quick Overview

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The Senate is also up for grabs, if the Republicans run the table in the Toss-ups they would take control, but the DFL only needs to win three of them to remain in control, assuming they hold the rest of their seats. The overall picture for the Democrats is better in the senate than it is in the house if only marginally so.

Monday, September 27, 2010

GPI update; mo' polls mo' problems

The StarTribune released a poll of the governor's race on Sunday with very different results from the last three polls to come out on the race, but with almost exactly the same results as their previous, pre-primary poll. So what's going on here?

First I'll update the GPI and then we can get into the poll itself.

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With the inclusion of the Rasmussen poll last week Tom Emmer had gotten as close as he's been in a while, with this update he's lost ground. Looking back at all the polls of this cycle you see a definate pattern, Mark Dayton is polling anywhere from around 41-35, Tom Emmer is polling around 36-30 and Tom Horner is polling around 18-10. The only recent poll that has shown a number outside these ranges was Rasmussen showing Tom Emmer at 42 last week.

It might be that the Rasmussen poll was an outlier or it could have something to do with their pushing of leaners, but even before pushing leaners they were showing Emmer ahead 36-34, which was Emmer's first lead in a poll since a May Rasmussen poll. More likely than not it's just a case of Rasmussen being Rasmussen and showing a GOP advantage.

Friday, September 24, 2010

GPI update; the new normal

Let's just get to it:

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That's three polls in a row showing essentially a tied race, regardless of whatever issues some of us may have with some of these polls, an even evenly split electorate seems to be the new normal of the Minnesota Governors race.

While I usually agree with Joe, I don't have a problem with Rasmussen pushing leaners in this poll. As this old fivethrityeight post points out, most pollsters will push leaners to some degree or another and publish the with leaners and without leaners results, usually using the with leaners for their top lines. In the end most leaners will end up voting their lean anyways, so I don't see the problem with this method.

What's interesting about these numbers though is what happens to Tom Horner's numbers when leaners are pushed, he goes from 18% to 9%. This is indicative of what is likely to happen to much of his support if he can't pull into actual competitiveness, but for half of his support to evaporate means it's mostly soft support right now.

If the dynamics remain as they are the key to this whole thing will be who can GOTV.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Minnesota House Race Ratings

Due to the dearth in information about the competitiveness of the Minnesota state legislative races I decided doing race ratings for the house and senate would be a good idea. If you don't know what I'm talking about when I say race ratings, I mean something along the lines of this. While Cook and some of the others who do this sort of thing on a national level usually use four tiers of rankings, I'm only going to use three; Safe, Tilt and Toss-up.

A Safe rating implies a very high confidence level, approaching 95%, so unless it's an upset of Weltian proportions, the chances of another outcome are not good. A Tilt rating is still likely to go in that direction, but there may be a red flag or two that is cause for hedging. A Toss-up means just that, it's a wide open race.

Quick Overview

First off, let's quickly go over the bottom line numbers before getting into the minutia of how the ratings were made and the actual ratings.

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If these ratings are close than control of the house is in play this election, but all Democrats need to do is win a third the toss-ups to retain control and since most of the toss-ups are currently held by Democrats it's likely that they will. And if 32 seems like a lot of toss-ups, it's less then 25% of the total seats. I'll do an update to these when we're closer to the election that will likely push some of the Toss-ups out to Tilt status.

Friday, September 17, 2010


Last week I posted the complete SILVER listings for the US Senate, now for the US House. First a graph of the House Republicanss, just like when I did this for the Senate, the DW-Nominate scores are plotted on the x-axis and PVI on the y-axis.

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Thursday, September 16, 2010

GPI update; SurveyUSA's Dem Downer Tour

SurveyUSA has shown some particularly bad numbers for Democrats this cycle and while their latest poll on the Minnesota governors race isn't bad news, it certainly isn't good. Here are the toplines:

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There has been some significant movement towards Tom Emmer from the last SurveyUSA poll, both of which have been polls of likely voters, while Tom Horner has doubled his polling number. As I mentioned previously SurveyUSA has been Rasmussenesque in their election polling this year, often showing the Democratic candidate doing far worse then other pollsters, but they had been bucking that trend in Minnesota, until now that is.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Waiting for Tom Emmer's budget, A Samuel Becket play in many acts

Tom Emmer has now released parts 1 and 2 of his budget plan, and yet we still wait for Tom Emmer's budget plan.

(peers into shoe)

Part 1, the "jobs" part, consists of tax cuts that will magically pay for themselves. Part 2, the "kids" part, consists of kicking the can down the road, Pawlenty style, for another four years and a complete education reform that will, also magically, not cost any money.

What will Part 3 be? Will it be the end, or does Tom have yet more acts to follow it? Like Vladimir and Estragon we will have to wait, however impatiently, for our Godot to arrive.

(peers into hat)

What shall we do to pass the time? Let me think.

(places hat on head)


I've got it! Let's play a game. What will Part 3 of Tom Emmer's magical budget plan be? Will it be a unicorn for all little girls and a hockey stick for all little boys? Will it be fairy dust that when sprinkled on problems magically makes them go away? Will it be something else, something not so magical, like the elimination of LGA?

Play along in the comments for your chance to win nothing!

Thursday, September 9, 2010


As promised here are the SILVER rankings for the entire U.S. Senate, but before we get to that, a few graphs.

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That's a scatter plot of Senate Republicans, the X axis represents the DW-Nominate score and the Y axis is the PVI score. You'll notice that the scatter plot is basically random and that is reflected in the r-squared number, there isn't much of any correlation between Senate Republicans voting tendencies and the partisan nature of the states they represent.

Here's the Senate Democrats scatterplot:

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What you see is a somewhat tighter, somewhat more linear distribution, with an r-squared value approaching 50. The Senate Democrats DW-Nominate and PVI scores are more correlated than the Senate Republicans.

When you put the two graphs together and you can actually see the partisan split.

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What you can also see by looking at the SILVER rankings for the entire Senate GOP below, and as Nate pointed out last week, the Tea Party has actually been pretty smart in the incumbents they've taken out, as Bennett and Murkowski are among the least valuable GOP Senators according to this metric.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The GOP's missed votes

While looking at missed votes for my earlier post on Tom Emmers missed votes there was something else I noticed, Tom Emmer wasn't the only Minnesota House GOPer who missed a lot of votes. The member that missed the second most votes was a Republican, Slayton Rep. Doug Magnus. Third most was also a from the GOP, Jim Abeler. Fourth most, you guessed it, Republican Paul Kohls. Fifth was Paul Thissen, the first Democrat on the list.

It gets worse though. The DFL has 87 members in the house the GOP has 47, the DFL missed a total of 1,194 votes, the GOP missed 1,370. The DFL has 85% more members in the house and yet the GOP still missed 15% more votes. Even excluding Mr. Emmer and his gargantuan 147 missed votes the GOP still missed more votes than the DFL. To further an analogy, if Tom Emmer is the Babe Ruth of missed votes, the house GOP are the New York Yankees.

I suppose when you're as deep in the minority as the Minnesota GOP is in the house you can get kind of discouraged about voting, but really, is there any excuse for this kind of systematic failure to show up and do your job?

Friday, September 3, 2010

County hPVI Map

After making the map of the counties Mark Dayton won in the DFL primary I got a little map making crazy and made a bunch of maps. One of them is a map of the County hPVI list I posted awhile ago.

The way the color coding works is any county with an hPVI of D+5 to R+5 is white, any county with an hPVI of D+6 to D+20 is light blue and any county with an hPVI greater than D+20 is dark blue. The GOP counties followed the same parameters, so light red is R+6 to R+20 and dark red is R+21 and greater.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

GPI update, another weird Humphrey poll

With the release today of a new MPR/Humphrey poll I can once again update the GPI. Below is a list of the current polls included in the index followed by the current numbers.

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Joe posted an excellent analysis of the Humphrey poll earlier today pointing out some of the issues with it. These are not the kinds of issues that disqualify a poll from being included in the index and is in fact the main reason for wanting to get a composite number from a combination of polls rather then relying on a single poll.

Having said all of that, partisan sampling problems do seem to be something of a trend for MPR/Humphrey institute polls. I posted this about their governor's race poll from May:

...the MPR/Humphrey Institute poll's sampling was 42% DFL, 42% GOP and 15% Independent. I honestly don't know where they got these numbers from, perhaps their rectum, but they certainly are not representative of Minnesota's partisan breakdown. First of all 15% is an incredibly low number for Independent's in Minnesota.

This polls breakdown is similar to the Humphrey poll from May in that the partisan breakdowns in both polls look nothing like the partisan breakdowns being used by anybody else who's polled this state. Now, maybe Humphrey knows something that all of the other pollsters don't, but judging by their 3.15 pollster rating, the sixth worst score of any pollster in Nate's database, my guess is that their polling suffers from a flaw in the methodology somewhere.

From MPR's article on the poll:

The survey data has also been weighted to accomodate for factors such as the number of telephone lines, cell phone usage, gender, age, race and ethnicity to approximate the demographic characteristics of the state's population according to the Census.

There is no mention of weighting the partisan numbers, so they probably don't, which would explain why they ended up with the split they did and probably also explains why they have such a poor track record.

Putting that aside, and as Joe pointed out, no matter how you slice it this is bad news for Tom Emmer. In a poll that consists of 46% republicans he could only manage to get the support of 34% of them. In what has to be considered a best case scenario for Tom Emmer he's only at parity with Mark Dayton. Don't let the media reports over the next few days fool you, this race is not "deadlocked" right now, Mark Dayton is clearly in the drivers seat.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Tom Emmer's missed votes

Alliance for a Better Minnesota is currently running an ad highlighting Tom Emmer's habit of missing votes in the legislature. It just so happens that I am currently in the process of compiling all of the legislative votes of all of the current legislators for the formulation of a state level DW-Nominate style scoring system, meaning I just so happen to have a database of all of the roll call votes for the 2010 session and can evaluate these claims.

Anytime you hear "so and so has done a thing X number of times," it's helpful to know what X is relative to Y and Z. In this case Alliance for a Better Minnesota claims that Tom Emmer missed 142 votes of 621 taken, so at the very least it would be nice to know what the average number of votes missed is.

My database includes a total of 650 votes for the 2010 regular session and special session combined (there were two votes that took place in a one day special session) and Tom Emmer missed 147 of those votes. I'm not sure which votes I'm including that Alliance for a Better Minnesota isn't, the link they provide for their source is the same source I used to compile my database.

So while Alliance for a Better Minnesota claims Tom Emmer missed one out of every five votes (it's actually more, over 22% if you figure 142/621) according to my database Tom Emmer "only" missed over 18% of votes. The word only in that sentence is in quotes because Tom Emmer only missed more votes than any other legislator and it's not even close.

Again according to the database I compiled of roll call votes Tom Emmer missed 147, second in missed votes was Doug Magnus with 111 and they're the only two who missed more than 100. The mean number of votes missed was 19, but in a skewed data set like this one mean is not the measure that you want to use for average, median is and the median number of votes missed was 9.

That's rather staggering when put into context, Tom Emmer missed 147 votes and the average legislator missed 9. The z-score, standard deviations from the mean, of Tom Emmer's missed votes is an out of this world 4.61. You could say that Tom Emmer is the Babe Ruth of missing votes.

To be fair to Tom let's just compare him with other Representatives who were running for Governor.

Even among those house members who were also running for Governor, Tom Emmer was the gold standard of missed votes. The guy he beat for the Republican nomination, Marty Seifert missed only 1 vote.

I would say that the missed votes critique is a perfectly fair one and if anything Alliance for a Better Minnesota went easy on Tom Emmer by just focusing on how many votes he missed without putting it in the context of how many votes other legislator's missed.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Back in June I introduced SILVER as a metric to measure how partisan a member of congress is compared to the voting tendencies of their district or state. I did this by combining PVI and DW-Nominate and I scaled it (or attempted to) to the same -1 to 1 scale that DW-Nominate uses. Since that time I’ve been forced to give the issue some more thought because of a baseball stat called NERD.

Believe it or not when I first developed the SILVER stat I was not aware that Crisitunity from the excellent Swing State Project blog had already developed a similar thing. Crisitunity computed his version in a different way, ranking the PVI and DW-Nominate scores of all members of the house on a 1 to 435 scale and then using the difference between the two rankings as his score. This might be a better method than the one I employed in my first version, but in the end we’re trying to measure two different things.

The system that Crisitunity developed measures house members against each other without regard to party affiliation, the point is to measure the overall liberalness of a legislator in the context of their district against the house as a whole. SILVER is meant to measure a legislator against his or her own party, not the entire legislative body.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

A victory for public defenders, maybe

From the Pioneer Press:

A Steele County judge has ruled that public defenders in the 3rd Judicial District may not drop 46 criminal defense cases they say they're too short-staffed to handle.

Instead, the district's office of public defense must contract attorneys to represent the defendants, who would otherwise not be able to afford to hire their own private attorneys.

The ruling sets the wheels in motion for a possible showdown with state officials over staffing and funding for those attorneys constitutionally required to represent defendants facing possible incarceration.

This is a big deal for a criminal justice system, public defenders in particular, that have been on the receiving end of a number of budget cuts. The judge has given them the green light to hire the needed attorneys on a contract basis, although at this point no one is quite sure how it will get paid for.

That these services need to be funded was central to the judge’s ruling, from Chief Public Defender Karen Duncan’s interview with MPR:

"I think it's dangerous for our citizens if we're deciding that we no longer need to fund core government services," she said. "Public defense and the criminal court system is a constitutional mandate. It's not an option. It's not frosting for the citizenry."

The actual series of events that lead to Duncan asking for relief from the 46 cases is unusual, a combination of six attorneys taking a leave of absence and a case coming in with 17 co-defendants, all needing a public defender. But the underlying problem is real.

Again from Duncan’s interview with MPR:

"All of these things were happening at once," Duncan said. "And then I'm seeing more staff people still at work after midnight, working at 4 o'clock in the morning. And it was just so obvious that we cannot continue to do this."

Duncan said that, as a result, attorneys missed several court hearings that week.

"I'm not sure how much worse it can feel to go to court and have your lawyer not be there," she said.

The big question now becomes, will there be more of this? The 3rd Judicial District is not the only one with an overworked public defender’s office and it will be interesting to see if similar requests are made in other districts.

The entire interview is worth a listen:

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Primary Post Mortem

The body has been lying in the streets for a week and the decomposing has begun, undaunted I am going to rip apart the stinking carcass of the DFL primary and try to determine exactly what happened and why. Sorry for the imagery, that’s where the title took me.

87 Counties

I posted this last week, but I still think it’s the most illustrative reason of exactly why Mark Dayton won the DFL primary.

Joe pointed something out in the comments of that post, which is that you don’t get a sense of population density from this map and that’s true, but in a way it sort of misses the point. The reason Margaret Anderson Kelliher made it close was because she racked up big vote totals in the Twin Cities, Minneapolis in particular, but the reason Mark Dayton won is that he racked up small vote totals all across the state and that’s what this map helps to illustrate.

Kelliher won Hennepin County by 16,255 votes. She won Ramsey County by 5,527 votes. Dayton won Anoka County by 2,670 votes, Itasca County by 1,129 votes and 65 counties by vote margins of less than 1,000. Kelliher won a handful of counties with less than a thousand votes as well, but most of these were won with less than one hundred votes.

Dayton’s campaign was a take on Howard Dean’s 50 state strategy, you could call it the 87 county strategy.

The Decider

Here are the final numbers:

Mark Dayton won the election by 6,972 votes. One county I didn’t mention above, St. Louis County, he won by 7,332 votes. That’s the election right there.

Losing St. Louis County by that much, coupled with losing the vast majority of counties by smaller margins, made Kelliher’s task in the metro all but impossible. I said this prior to the election:

If MAK is going to win though, she has to do better in the Twin Cities than the polls have shown. If she can’t get to parity in her base areas she doesn’t really have a chance. In order for her to win her grassroots focused campaign has to turn out the Twin Cities and St. Louis County, otherwise it’s Dayton in the general.

Kelliher did what she needed to do in the Twin Cities; it was a failure to gain any traction in St. Louis County that cost her the primary.

The X-Factor

It’s hard to say how much of this was due to Yvonne Prettner Solon’s presence as Mark Dayton’s running mate, but clearly she had an impact on the results, much more so than Kelliher’s running mate, John Gunyu did.

It’s impossible to know now what would have been, but if Kelliher had picked Tom Rukavina as her running mate would he have been able to bring home some iron range votes for her? Would it have been enough matter? These are fun questions, but in the end, the choice was made and the election is now in the books and we’ll never know what could have been.

This may have been the critical decision of the campaign when all is said and done though, Margaret Anderson Kelliher picked someone who could help her govern, Mark Dayton picked someone who could help him win the primary. Who made the right choice?

Below is a breakdown of Hennepin County into Minneapolis and not Minneapolis.

What you can see looking at this is that Kelliher dominated in the city of Minneapolis, but in the rest of Hennepin County Dayton kept it close.

Now the same breakdown of St. Louis County.

In contrast Dayton won Duluth handily and won greater St. Louis County by even more. This is where a Rukavina selection could have helped Kelliher the most since his Virginia base is in the heart of St. Louis County. I don’t mean to keep harping on this point and I honestly don’t know if a Rukavina selection gets her over the hump, but many DFLers, including myself, were a little skeptical of the Gunyu selection and the outcome of this election just amplifies that skepticism, right or wrong.

The Third Wheel

The conventional wisdom prior to the election was that Matt Entenza would hurt Kelliher more than Dayton, but there really isn’t any evidence that happened. There isn’t a lot of correlation between the candidates when you compare their number of votes per county, meaning there isn’t any evidence that Entenza affected Kelleher’s numbers more than Dayton’s. In fact the highest correlation was between Dayton and Kelliher, which is what you would expect.

As I said the correlations are not strong, but it would appear that Matt Entenza actually took votes from Mark Dayton just a little bit more than from Margaret Anderson Kelliher, it’s not to a high enough degree to be significant though. Of course, that’s just looking at the final numbers, if Entenza hadn’t been in the race the entire texture would have been different so who knows what would have happened.


To evaluate turnout I compared this year to the average turnout in 2002 and 2006. As we all know by now DFL turnout for the primary election was much more robust than most had expected, approaching almost 15% of eligible voters when most, including SOS Mark Ritchie, thought 10% would be more likely. This was more than a 50% increase over the average turnout in 2002 and 2006.

The below table of the counties with the highest turnout increase contains two numbers, “% change” is the percentage that voter turnout increased in that county versus the average of the previous two gubernatorial primaries, “vs state” is that change minus the increase of the state as a whole. So the “vs state” column is the percentage of increase above and beyond the increase of the state as a whole.

Kelliher won Carver County, Entenza won Lyon County and Dayton won the rest. These counties do not have a lot of voters though, so let’s look at some counties that do.

Above are the six counties that had the most voters on primary day, seventh place, Olmsted County had almost 10,000 less voters than Washington County, so these are the six big counties. What you see here is that Kelliher did very well in the most populous places and the counties she won had a higher turnout than the rest of the state. But this trend was confined to the most populous counties; her campaign didn’t display any particular ability to turnout the less populous counties.

Looking at the turnout from all the counties there was little correlation between turnout and the performance of any of the candidates, so while in the most populous counties Kelliher won, she seems to have done so by turning out her base, this didn’t happen in greater Minnesota and it especially didn’t happen in St. Louis County.


Unlike my colleague, Two Putt Tommy, I don’t view this election as a systematic failure on the part of the DFL party. Mark Dayton is known statewide and liked by longtime DFLers, no matter who got the endorsement and what the DFL did, this was going to be a tough race to win. Add to that the fact that Dayton didn’t make any forced errors and had the money to run lots of ads made their task even more daunting and yet, they almost pulled it off.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Post Primary GPI update

With the release of the first post-primary poll of the Minnesota governor’s race I can update the now slimed down GPI, which is still using two pre-primary polls in its average.

I don’t want to read too much into a poll taken right after an election victory when Mark Dayton’s name has been in the news quite a bit, but the Rasmussen poll pretty much confirms what other pollsters have found, Mark Dayton has about a ten point lead on Tom Emmer.

Here are the toplines from the last two Rasmussen polls:

Dayton 45 (40)
Emmer 36 (36)

This falls in line with what the most recent polls have shown, Dayton at or above 40%, Emmer at or below 36% and Tom Horner right around 10%. This poll also has the lowest number of undecided voters of any poll done on the race so far, 10%.

It’s still early and there haven’t been any attack ads against Dayton yet, but they’re coming. If he can manage to ride it out and keep his numbers above 40% though, he’ll be tough to beat.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

A map of Mark Dayton's victory

This is based on still unofficial now official numbers from the Secretary of State.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Primary Election Polling and Turnout

This post is about pre-election polling and turnout expectations; I’ll wait until all the numbers from the Secretary of State are official before I go into any more detail.

Primary Election Polling

Here’s the final GPI update I posted before the primary election:

And here are the final results (unofficial):

The polling for Mark Dayton and Matt Entenza was pretty accurate; the polling for Margaret Anderson Kelliher was way off. Why was this? For one thing primary elections are notoriously difficult to poll, not only because of questions about who’s going to actually show up on Election Day, but also because in an intra party election, voter preference is likely to be more fluid than in a general election, in a three way race that tendency is even more pronounced. This election also featured the added uncertainty of a new primary election date in the summer to further compound the pollster’s difficulties.

But how do you get two candidates so close and miss one so badly? What the GPI doesn’t show is the 9.33% undecided number that, if added to MAK’s total, puts her much closer to where she finished. Of course you can’t assume that 100% of undecided voters broke for MAK, in fact, my assumption before the primary was that undecided voters would break her way at about a 70-30 split with Dayton, weather that actually happened, who knows.

Clearly MAK had the superior ground game, but that appears to have been largely confined to the metro area where she was able to turn out her base. Outside of the metro area was a different story and just as he did in the 2000 primary Mark Dayton cleaned up in the non-metro counties. The difference, as many suspected, turned out to be St. Louis County, where thanks to the help of Yvonne Prettner Solon, Mark Dayton did better than probably anyone expected.

Again, these numbers are unofficial (and incomplete as St. Louis County isn’t fully reported as of this writing) but Dayton beat MAK 56-29, if she could have kept that margin respectable she could have won, but to do that badly in such a key county is the main reason she lost. Joe predicted before the election that Prettner Solon would be the x-factor and it appears he was right.

In the end I suspect the discrepancy in the polls and the results is due to two factors, undecided voters breaking for MAK (something which will be difficult to prove) and a fantastic turnout operation (something that can be looked at when we have final SOS numbers).

The other option is that she was always in contention and the polls somehow completely missed a good portion of her support. Seeing how much space I’ve given to the two theories you can probably guess which one I favor.


Here is the expected turnout table I posted before the primary:

Unofficial turnout stands at 441,982 as of this writing, with 99.93% of precincts reporting, so we can guess that the final number will be about 442,500. This falls comfortably into the “no penalty” category of adjustments for the summer date, meaning that when using 1998 as a turnout template there was no perceivable drop off in primary participation due to the summer primary date.

The reason for this is likely twofold; a record number of absentee ballots cast in a primary election combined with the Kelliher campaign’s (and maybe to a lesser extent the other two DFL campaigns) effective turnout effort. Once we get final numbers from the SOS, which will certify results on the 17th, all of these theories can be tested to a certain degree, but until than let the speculation begin.

The party for the party is at Jax

I was liveblogging primary night from Jax Cafe, site of the DFL unity party, here is the transcript, from Minnesota Progressive Project:

[Update 12:40pm]: And I was wrong about the concession speech too, Dayton's lead just ended up being too large, in relative terms.

That's it from Jax where the drinks are too damn expensive for a DFL event. Seriously people, this needs to change next time. If I can't get a beer for a decent price why do I even want to go?

[Update 12:17pm]: As Dayton pulls past the 2,000 vote mark there is still no sign of Margaret. I doubt we'll get a concession tonight as I'm sure she'll want to wait for the re-canvassing, just in case.

[Update 12:03pm]: 92% in and Dayton now has a 1300 vote lead. I might have been premature in concluding this is heading for a recount. Dayton might win it outright.

[Update 11:52pm]: 91% in and Dayton is now winning, by only 335 votes.

[Update 11:48pm]: It's down to a 60 vote margin with 90% in. This one's going to a recount folks.

As soon as I write that Amy comes to the podium to give us an update.

[Update 11:30pm]: It's down to 425 votes with 87% in.

[Update 11:22pm]: WCCO appears to be ahead of the SOS website, they are reporting that with 86% in the margin is less than 1,300 votes.

[Update 11:10pm]: A number of the counties yet to report are counties that Dayton did well in during his 2000 primary race. These include Aitkin, Cass, Lincoln, Roseau and Swift.

Of course what I said earlier still holds, if MAK can keep it close in St. Louis County she can win. With just over 7% in though, Dayton is leading 60% to 25%.

[Update 11:01pm]: With over 65% in it's now a two point race. St. Louis County looks like it will decide the election.

[Update 10:50pm]: Turnout right now is at almost 350,000 and it looks like it could approach 400,000.

[Update 10:42pm]: 60% in and it's now MAK 41.89, Dayton 39.25 and the SOS site only shows 7% in from St. Louis County.

[Update 10:35pm]: Chris Coleman is now speaking.

[Update 10:30pm]: The race just keeps getting closer. With 52% in it's 42.33 to 38.87, only 5 points of difference now with Ramsey and Hennepin almost all reporting. It's going to be a tight one.

The Big E has left the building but below is a picture of him and me hard at work. The only thing missing is a beer.

[Update 10:20pm]: A few elections that can be called; Barb Goodwin will be the nominee in SD50. Paul "not the gay one" Gazelka will likely win in SD12, which could open up that seat for a DFL takeover. In SD67 John Harrington will be the nominee. In 15B Zachary Dorholt will get the opportunity to take on King Banaian and in 65A Rena Moran is the winner.

[Update 10:03pm]: John Gunyu is speaking right now after a blackout/internet issue caused a slight delay and bit of nervousness.

[Update 9:38pm]: With almost 30% in reporting in SD50 Barb Goodwin is winning 70-30 over Satveer Chaudhary.

[Update 9:33pm]: Al is speaking. He sure knows how to whip up a crowd.

[Update 9:32pm]: Another update; Entenza concedes.

[Update 9:21pm]: Amy is revving up the crowd right now. You can feel the excitement building with every minute that goes by.

"It's happening." Someone shoouts.

[Update 9:10pm]: With over 92% of precincts reporting it looks like John Harrington is going to win in SD67.

[Update 8:50pm]: Tony Sertich is speaking right now. He gave us the update we were all waiting for, Twins 8, White Sox 3.

[Update 8:35pm]: The latest update from the SOS website shows Hennipen county 81% in and Kelliher with 48% and Dayton with under 35%. These are good numbers for her.

[Update 8:30pm]: The place is buzzing now with red shirts everywhere. People are excited about seeing Margaret in the lead, they have the Secretary of State's website up on a projection screen for everyone to see the results coming in.

The early lead for Kelliher we're seeing is coming in from Ramsey and Wright counties primarily. She needs to keep that up to pull this one out.

[Update 8:00pm Polls are Closed!]: The room is filling up and you can feel the anxiety in the room, people with the campaign are nervous but optimistic.

[7:15pm]: I just got to Jax and plugged into the intertubes. Some of the networks are here, MPR and some other bloggers, but no one else yet.

Amy, Al and Keith are all supposed to show up, along with Margaret of course. I'll be updating this thread with all the latest news from here as things develop.

Robin (she's taking all the pictures)

Tony (I'm typing all the words)

Monday, August 9, 2010

What to watch for on Primary day

This is your 2010 primary returns watching guide.


Looking through the crosstabs of the SurveyUSA poll from last week, there aren’t really any major areas of weakness for Mark Dayton. The few areas where his support might be considered soft are young people and college grads. Looking at the regional breakdown his toplines are strong everywhere, but in the northeast he’s "only" leading Margaret Anderson Kelliher by 10 points 41-31.

I looked at the results of the 2000 Senate primary, Mark Dayton’s last statewide primary race, for any regional weaknesses but his support was surprisingly widespread. The few areas in which he did poorly were somewhat correlated with areas of strength for DFL endorsed candidate Jerry Janezich. Those areas were primarily in the northeast, the same regional area that MAK polls closest in.

If MAK is going to win though, she has to do better in the Twin Cities than the polls have shown. If she can’t get to parity in her base areas she doesn’t really have a chance. In order for her to win her grassroots focused campaign has to turn out the Twin Cities and St. Louis County, otherwise it’s Dayton in the general.

Minnesota Senate

If you have questions about how to read the hPVI listing for the individual districts here is an explanation.


This is the undercard to the Governors primary, pitting current DFL Sen. Satveer Chaudhary against former DFL Rep. Barb Goodwin in a race that will answer the question, can a DFL state senator keep his job even after pissing off virtually everyone in the party.

Living in the district I see about an equal split in yard signs, for whatever that’s worth. This one is hard to forecast but may be a better indicator than the governor’s race of the DFL party’s influence in primary elections.


GOP Sen. Paul Koering is gay. His challenger, Paul Gazelka, is not gay. Sen. Koering had dinner with a gay porn star, Mr. Gazelka did not. For these reasons the state GOP has kicked their incumbent candidate to the curb for a generic republican, who they want you to know is not gay (or at least has not come out yet).

This will be an interesting race to watch for the above reason and the possibility of a DFL pickup in November by nominee Taylor Stevenson. While SD12 is an R+14 district, its two house seats are held by DFLers, making a pickup of the senate seat possible, especially if the two GOP factions have trouble coalescing around a candidate after the primary.


Long time Senator Steve Murphy is retiring in this R+8 district, and there are two DFLers, endorsed candidate Joe Fricke and Bruce Montplaisir, running for the chance to hold the seat from GOP candidate and Red Wing Mayor John Howe.

This race is sort of the opposite of SD12’s, a hold here will be difficult without an incumbent in the race and with both house districts held by GOPers. On the other hand in this political environment maybe not having an incumbent will work in the DFLs advantage against a candidate who is an office holder.


There are nine DFLers on the ballot in this race and the winner gets a senate seat. Here’s a good primer on who some of the candidates are.

Minnesota House


Two DFL candidates are vying for Larry Haws St. Cloud house seat, DFL endorsed candidate Zachary Dorholt and Carol Lewis, with the winner getting the privilege of taking on none other than King Banaian in the general election.

The two candidates are about as different as you can find, Dorholt is 29 and running in his first election while Lewis is 53, a former school board member and has been involved with St. Cloud politics for 20 years. 15B is in Tarryl Clark’s vacated senate district, so there won’t be a single DFL incumbent running for reelection to the legislature in the district, something which may or may not matter in the general.


Jeremiah Ellis and Rena Moran are facing off for Cy Thao’s open seat, the general election being a mere formality in this D+56 district.

This race is worth watching primarily because Ellis is the DFL endorsed candidate and Moran is the TakeAction endorsed candidate, making this a proxy battle of sorts.


Jeremy Kalin is leaving the house after only two terms and Cindy Erickson is running unopposed in the DFL primary to replace him. The action here is on the republican side as two candidates will face off, insurgent Sheldon Anderson and the GOP endorsed candidate Bob Barrett.

At R+15, this is a vulnerable seat and could be in play, but fortunately the two GOP candidates appear to be trying their best to out teabag one another. Bob Barrett won the endorsement against Sheldon Anderson on the fourth ballot, but Anderson claimed the process was unethical and decided to run in the primary even though he promised to abide by the endorsement. Good times.