Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Swingers and 2010

Tim Walz and Eric Paulsen represent the two swing districts in Minnesota according to PVI, the 1st and the 3rd. They are both young for congress persons, Walz is 46 and Paulsen is 45, they are both relatively new to the house and while Paulsen has yet to face reelection, Walz breezed to victory in '08 with over 62% of the vote. What Walz has done in his district is what Paulsen appears to be trying to do in his, moderating himself from the parties activist base.


In case you missed the post last week, DW-Nominate is a partisan scoring system ranging from (-1) to 1, with (-1) being very liberal and 1 being very conservative. PVI, partisan voting index is a measure of the partisan nature of a congressional district that I've formatted the same way as the DW-Nominate score, positive for a conservative leaning district, negative for liberal.

What you see when comparing Walz to Paulsen is just how similar they are among their respective party caucuses. They are both from districts that have almost no partisan tilt, far from the average of their party. Their DW-Nominate scores however are very close to the average member of their party, suggesting that they are more valuable to their party than the average legislator, which you can see by looking at their SILVER scores.

While taking out Eric Paulsen would be nice, if Tim Walz's success in the 1st is any indication he will be hard to unseat, especially in a cycle that looks to be favorable to GOP candidates. In addition Paulsen got elected in a three way race with almost 50% in his first go and hasn't really done anything to change voters' perception of him since that time. Based on PVI however, the 3rd is the most favorable district for democratic takeover of the three GOP held districts.

This brings up the question of who the easier target is for Democrats this November, Eric Paulsen or Michelle Bachmann. While Bachmann's district has a much more daunting +7 PVI, Bachmann herself only won reelection by 3 points against a candidate who was underfunded most of the race and only started gaining ground after Bachmann imploded on Hardball. Since that time Bachmann has further defined herself as the nuttiest of wing nuts, capable of saying just about anything.

So, we have a favorable district with a savvy candidate versus an unfavorable district with a loon, which race would you put resources into if you could only choose one?

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