Saturday, July 31, 2010

hPVI in visual form

This is my attempt at putting all the hPVI information into an easy to understand graphical format, preferably one with pretty colors.

First I'll take you through the individual elements of the chart; the legislative seat chart, the hPVI chart and the house district spread chart, then combine those into one easy to understand Minnesota Legislative hPVI Chart With Pretty Colors.

What initially got the ball rolling in this direction was Joe's request for some sort of graphical chart of legislative seats.

…I wonder if there's a graphical way to show who controls the house seats in each of those districts.

This was the result of that:

Each cell represents a legislative seat, the numbers are Senate seats, and the corresponding letters are House seats. Blue means that seat is held by a DFLer, and red means it's held by a GOPer. The headings at the top are shaded blue because both chambers are controlled by the DFL; if one were controlled by the GOP the cell would be red.

Joe liked that chart but I wasn't quite satisfied, I wanted a way to integrate that chart with hPVI, which lead to the next chart, a way of formatting the hPVI information in a graphical way:

In this chart the headings at the top refer to the seat type, SD for senate district, A and B for that house district with the numbers along the side referring to the district number. The numbers in the cells are the hPVI numbers and the cells are color coded so that neutral districts are white, and the more Republican a district is the deeper shade of red it is, the more Democratic the more blue.

To that we can add a column for the district spread, the difference between the hPVI's of the two house districts, color coded from white to green.

Now we have two sort of similar looking charts that can be combined into one:

In one graphic we can see what party currently holds the district, what its partisan tilt is and how big of a difference in hPVI there is between the two house districts.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

hPVI; House districts, sorted

Below is the Minnesota House district hPVI list.

As with the Senate district list the most democratic districts are significantly more partisan than the most republican districts. This is not surprising; as the house districts are further segmentations of the Senate districts we would expect them to retain some of the same partisan tendencies. You can see this in the graph, which looks very similar to the Senate hPVI graph.

And I've said it before, but I'll say it again, SD61 is really, really liberal. Really. For reals.

Here's the house hPVI list:

Monday, July 26, 2010

hPVI; Senate districts, sorted

Below is the entire Minnesota Senate district hPVI list, but before we get to that let's first take a look at some information about the list.

As you would expect the most democratic districts are significantly more partisan than the most republican districts. In fact a full 16% of the districts are Democratic districts that are more partisan than the most republican district. Conversely there are relatively few Democratic districts in the +10 - +20 range, while there are lots of republican districts in that range. You can see the trend more easily when the list is graphed.

The republican districts are more plentiful, but less partisan while the exact opposite is true of the democratic districts. The other interesting feature is just how many +10 republican districts the DFL currently holds. Even if you exclude Lisa Fobbe in her R+24 district there are six districts with an R+10 score or greater that are held by DFLers while the most Democratic district currently held by the GOP is SD41 with an R+5 score. This is to be expected in a Senate dominated by the DFL, but it's still somewhat surprising to see how far into GOP land the DFL incursion has penetrated.

And SD 61 is really, really liberal.

Here's the entire Senate hPVI list:

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

New Ras poll, GPI update

It's been awhile since the Minnesota Governors race was polled, SurveyUSA released the last poll on the race over a month ago, so we haven't been able to update the GPI recently. Before we get to that let's just take a quick look at the results of the Rasmussen poll.

All three DFL candidates polled better this time than last time Rasmussen polled this race, by margins of 3 to 5 points while Emmer and Horner polled slightly worse, by margins of 1 to 2 points. These are the same trend lines that SurveyUSA caught in their now month old poll, Emmer slipping and the three DFL candidates gaining. It's not hard to see how these trends will only be magnified after the DFL primary in August.

Now onto the GPI update. Just a reminder on the methodology:
The weighted average is an average of all the polls, weighted against a variable called "weight". This variable represents a combination of the Pollster Rating and the age of the poll. The newer the poll and better the pollster the higher it will be weighted. The age of the poll has more effect on the weight then the pollster rating, with the age making up 75% of the weight and the Pollster Rating making up 25%. However the age weighting will essentially fall off at 50 days and this will get adjusted as we get closer to the race in question.
There are only two polls that meet the 50 day shelf life criteria right now, the just released Rasmussen poll and the June SurveyUSA poll, so the GPI is simply a weighted average of the two polls. The only recent poll on the DFL primary is the SuveyUSA poll, so there will be no update to the primary GPI right now.

Here's the current GPI poll list:

And now the actual GPI:

All of the DFL candidates increased their wAve by about 3 points while Emmer held steady and Horner dropped a couple. The trend lines certainly look good for the DFL going forward.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Top 5 House districts by hPVI

Last week I posted the top 5 most partisan Senate districts in the state, according to hPVI, this week we'll look at the House version of those lists. First the top five most Democratic House districts:

Just like its Senate counterpart the Democratic list is all Twin Cities districts. In fact, the top 15 most Democratic house districts are located in the Twin Cities. And if you needed any more proof, SD 61 is really, really liberal. Really.

Here are the top 5 most Republican districts:

There's Tom Emmer, hailing from the fourth most Republican district in the state. The flip side of that is Margaret Anderson Kelliher, whose 60A is the seventh most Democratic district in the state at an hPVI of D+50. It's entirely possible that the two major party candidates for Governor will be from two of the most partisan house districts in the state, with a full 80 points of spread between their constituents.

I'll post the complete lists for both the house and senate soon.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Battle at the Ol’ Mexico

Tom Emmer held a town hall event yesterday at the Ol' Mexico Restaurante & Cantina in Roseville. The event was billed on Emmer's website as "a town meeting with servers in the hospitality industry to listen to their concerns regarding wages, tips, taxes and health care." Concerns would be the polite way to describe what most of the people at the event felt. Something like "really pissed off" would probably come closer.

By the time I arrived, the Banquet Hall where the "town meeting" was being held in was full, so I took a seat in the restaurant with the rest of the overflow. The event inside was audible through the restaurants audio system. Most of the people in attendance were wearing stickers that claimed "I'm not overpaid," supplied by Alliance for a Better Minnesota. One woman I talked to told me she had worked for Norm Coleman back when he was Mayor of St. Paul and again when he ran for Senate, but she was now questioning if she could vote for Tom Emmer. She was wearing a sticker.

So how did Tom Emmer handle this hostile crowd? As you would expect from Tom Emmer he lied:

What I said last week was this; when I was asked about the tip credit I said absolutely. I was asked next so you're saying reduce the minimum wage, I said we can't do that.

And lied:

I'm more than willing to listen to you and see what you have to say the other thing is I've never proposed, ah, in the past week it was never about a proposal to reduce minimum wage, so we're not even having that discussion.

And lied:

The point is not to cut wages, when you are losing hours, when you're not able to make wages and support your family, when your employer's not getting the business that they need to give you the hours that you need to survive there's a problem.

And lied:

I don't want to see your wages go down, let's not talk about that any longer, what the media has reported is Emmer said he wants to cut your wage, no I don't, I said it again I want to raise your wage.

Throughout the entire event Tom Emmer claimed that he never said he wanted to reduce anyone's wages. The problem for him is that he said he wanted to reduce people's wages. From earlier this week about cutting the minimum wage:

"If somebody is going to pass that through the Legislature, we would absolutely sign it."

So which is it Tom? Do you want to cut the minimum wage or not? What is your actual position, because if anyone learned anything at this event it certainly wasn't what your actual position is.

A theme that Tom Emmer kept coming back to was the idea that by reducing the minimum wage, servers could earn more money. How is this possible? Tom explains:

The minimum wage, I believe if you excel, if you're the best server in the house you should be allowed to make more than the minimum wage and if you're not the best, maybe you're the weakest, you should make a little bit less and be able to work your way up.

Right now, at this very moment employers have the ability to pay their best servers more; the minimum wage doesn't prevent that. But is that what really happens in restaurants? Do the strongest servers get paid more in hourly wage than the weakest? Not usually. If you're a trainer you might get paid more, but this is because while you are training you typically will be taking less tables and making less in tips. In fact, there's already a system in place that rewards good servers, it's called tipping.

I worked as a server in a tip penalty state (Florida) many years ago. I got paid more per hour than most of the other employee's and it wasn't because I was a good server, on the contrary, I was what is known as a weak server. Why did I get paid more per hour than almost everyone else? Because I worked the graveyard shift, didn't get barely any tips and had a ton of side work to do. Most servers got paid $2.13 an hour. I got $3.12. Is that Tom Emmer's idea of climbing the ladder?

One of the servers there who had some words for Tom Emmer was a friend of mine, Ann Potter. Her statement got one of the loudest applauses of the night and part of it was featured in the MPR article about the event. Here's the whole thing:

Hi my name is Ann, I've waited tables for over ten years. I'm absolutely horrified by the statement's I watched you make on film, basically claiming that we don't deserve to make the wages that we do, that it's ridiculous that a server would make $100,000 a year while an owner is making less than that or is having a hard time putting their bills together. My understanding of your statement is the only people who deserve to make six figures are people who own property.

(cheering and applause)

An attack on minimum wage is an attack on the working class. $7.25 is hardly a livable wage. We work so hard, most of us don't have health insurance, most of us don't have 401k's, most of us don't have any kind of financial protection I just am absolutely enraged with what you have to say, I find it to be abhorrent and incredibly irresponsible.

(more cheering and applause)

I think this is a good point and something I've noticed before about Tom Emmer, his lack of respect for working people. This is the same sort of attitude that stiffs a contractor for money on work they have done simply because he determines that he was overcharged and then when the contractor takes him to court he claims ridiculous court fees for himself. The laborer doesn't deserve to get paid the same amount as Tom Emmer the lawyer.

The event ended without an ending. Robert Erickson Nick Espinosa of the group BAM!, Boycott Arizona – Minnesota, went up to the table Tom Emmer was sitting at and dumped a sack full of pennies down in front of him. Another member of BAM! had a statement to make:

BAM! dropped the pennies because you support S.B. 1070 and the irony is not lost on us that you're in a Mexican restaurant in support of a law that's assaulting that community, so until you speak out against S.B. 1070 we will not listen to anything you say. And you need to stop lying, the tip credit is a penalty, we all know it, stop lying.

(cheering and applause)

That was it. Apparently the microphone wasn't working in the Banquet Hall anymore, even though everyone out in the restaurant could hear it just fine; the only explanation I can think of as to why this would happen is that the amplifier for the Banquet hall went down, either it got shut off or shut itself off. Either way Tom Emmer went out the back door and the servers out the front with the media waiting for both.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

More fun with hPVI

Last week I introduced hPVI, hybrid PVI, and posted the scores of the 87 counties in Minnesota. For anyone who hasn't ever read one of my posts, those who have must think I suffer from PVI turrets, PVI is short for Partisan Voting Index. It's a metric, created by The Cook Political Report, for measuring how partisan a congressional district or state is. I've adapted it for use at the statewide level and added a letter to the front of it to distinguish it from its predecessor, as is all the rage now among baseball statisticians.

Today we're going to look at the top 5 most partisan Senate districts in the state. First the top 5 most Democratic districts:

Those are some huge scores and not surprisingly they all come from the Twin Cities, in fact the top 9 most democratic senate districts are all in the Twin Cities.

Now let's take a look at the other side of the spectrum, the top five most Republican districts:

Notice something that's different from the previous chart? The third most Republican senate district in the state is occupied by a DFLer; the Republicans, on the other hand, don't occupy a single Democratic leaning district. Additionally the most Democratic senate district is more than twice as partisan as the most Republican district.

That's it for now but I'll have more on these numbers in future posts, including the full list for both the Senate and House.

Friday, July 9, 2010

For Chaudhary, the hits just keep on coming

Satveer Chaudhary has had a very bad couple of months and it doesn't look to be getting better for him anytime soon. From today's Pioneer Press:
The Minnesota state senator who pushed through last-minute legislation for Fish Lake that contributed to the governor's veto of a major fish and game bill is the subject of a federal tax lien for $252,000 in past-due income taxes, the News Tribune has learned.

Sen. Satveer Chaudhary, DFL-Fridley, and his wife, Denise, failed to pay $100,000 in income taxes in 2007 and $151,000 in 2008, according to tax records.
Ouch. That's quite the tax hit. Here is Chaudhary's attempt at an explanation:
Chaudhary, who owns a home on Fish Lake that would have been affected by his legislation, told the Duluth News Tribune on Thursday that the delinquent taxes were due to his wife's wrongful termination by Celgene, a biopharmaceutical company.

"It forced her to exercise or lose some of her stock options," he said. "In general, she had to use some of her stocks to purchase other stocks, and so that led to a huge tax liability."

He said his wife has filed a wrongful termination suit against Celgene with the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission.

He said he didn't know the reason for the 2007 tax delinquency and was checking with his accountant to learn more.
It's hard to tell what effect, if any, this will have on Chaudhary's already difficult re-election bid, I mean at this point the damage has been done, but for anyone still on the fence about Chaudhary's actions this is yet one more issue to cause doubts.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

PVI breakdown by county

As part of a continuing effort to generate some objective tools for better understanding and analyzing the politics of the state I've created a county level PVI index, what I'm calling hPVI. For those of you unfamiliar with PVI, it's a tool created by The Cook Political Report for evaluating the partisan makeup of congressional districts.

In formulating a congressional district's PVI, the results of the last two presidential elections are used. But should that be what we use for formulating a county's PVI? The whole point of this exercise is to get a better idea of the partisan makeup of the state at a local level; in that case would the results of the last two gubernatorial elections be a better way to go? How about a hybrid of the two, using the last presidential election and the last gubernatorial election? What about Senate races, should those be included?

In the end I went with the hybrid method and did not include Senate races, this means the county level PVI is arrived at by averaging the Democratic vote share of the 2008 Presidential election and the 2006 gubernatorial election and subtracting from that the average of the Republican vote share in those two races. This is than compared with how the state voted to arrive at the county level PVI, or what I'm calling hPVI.

So for example, in Beltrami county the average Democratic vote share for 2008 and 2006 was 52.5% and the average Republican vote share was 43.4%, when you subtract the GOP average from the Democratic average you get 9.1, when you than subtract the PVI of the state as a whole (with this method it's 5) you get 4.1, for an hPVI of 4 (PVI is rounded to the nearest whole number).

Here are the top 5 most Democratic counties according to hPVI:

Here are the top five most GOP counties:

Keep in mind that the hPVI is telling you how Democratic or Republican a county is compared to the state as a whole. Since Minnesota itself has a hPVI of 5, a county with a -1 hPVI is 1 point more Republican than the state, but is still a baseline D+4 county.


Here's the complete list:

Monday, July 5, 2010

More on per diems with Tom Emmer

On Morning Edition last Thursday Cathy Wurzer interviewed Tom Emmer on the campaign trail; one of the subjects they touched on was per diems, which I just posted about last week. When Emmer was asked about the issue he reiterated his stance that per diems be eliminated, along with pensions and health care benefits. That's when Cathy Wurzer called him out.
Cathy Wurzer: As a state lawmaker you have taken these perks, why are you denouncing them now? You've taken advantage of pensions and per diems and that kind of thing.

Tom Emmer: Part of it is when you get to the legislature you've gotta learn how this thing operates and for me it never has been a career so when you say you've taken it, no it was all set up when I got there and if you look at what I've done in my last three four years I was one of two or three legislators that actually brought a lawsuit on the per diem issue and I still think we're right I think the courts handled that wrong, obviously that's done so you've got to go at it a different way, but I'd move to eliminate per diem.
There's a lot contained in that response, but first let's look at the last four years.

While Tom Emmer, lawyer, was filing lawsuits to try and stop increases in per diems, Tom Emmer, legislator, was taking per diems. But we already know this, what is new is the claim that it was all "set up when I got there" so you know, he couldn't be expected to not take the per diems. 

That is a lie.

Per diems are claimed by individual legislators and they can claim whatever they want up to a daily maximum, for the house thats $77. To receive per diem though you have to claim it, nothing about per diems is just "set up" when you arrive in St. Paul. If a legislator receives per diem it's because they filed the paper work to claim it.

So if you were a legislator who had a philosophical problem with per diems, or just didn't want to take them for whatever reason, you could elect not to. But, is there such a person?

That's Rep. Steve Simon (D), 44A and he didn't even collect per diems his first year when Tom Emmer claims "it was all set up" and collected $11,068. And why doesn't Rep. Simon receive per diems? For a very simple reason he told me, "it's a personal decision."

So Tom Emmer could have decided not to take per diems, but he didn't. He took almost $50,000 dollars in six years, apparently all the while not believing in them and filing lawsuits against them.


Now we come back around to why Tom Emmer is calling for getting rid of per diems in the first place; again from that MPR interview (transcribed by me):
Cathy Wurzer: According to a story in the St. Cloud Times last week, you're interested in cutting pensions, health insurance benefits and per diems for law makers and constitutional officers. We did a little research that shows that would only save about $12.7 million over the biennium. What's your thinking behind such a potential move?

Tom Emmer: Well Cathy I'm glad you brought that up because you talk about it in terms of just the budget item it sounds like all we need to do, again, is patch up the budget, find where we're gonna cut and how it's gonna operate, that's not what we're talking about. And with that proposal it's not even about the budget, it's about emphasizing the word service when it comes to public service. This was not supposed to be your career; this was supposed to be serving your state serving your community.

I think the good people of this state that seek elective office, take leave from their private careers and families, they should be compensated. But that compensation should be in the form of a salary or some type of stipend that is very open and transparent so people can see it. Where we've gotten into problems is we've got this per diem that people can change and the general public doesn't know what it is, there's perks that they include, pension benefits and Cadillac health care benefits that the average tax payer does not have access to, that should not be for elected officials.
It's not for budget reasons that Tom Emmer wants to eliminate per diems, it's for a reason much more esoteric, emphasizing the word service in public service. Apparently the budget isn't really that big of an issue. But wait, what was that quote of his again?
Rep. Tom Emmer, a freshman Republican from Delano, said he and the other legislators who claimed per diems have no apologies to make. Emmer, an attorney, said the $1,320 he earned in special session per diems was far less than he would have made in his law practice. 'You're talking to a guy who at 44 years old made a significant personal and financial sacrifice to serve my constituents,' Emmer said.
Oh yeah, that's right, in 2005 Tom Emmer defended his per diems as justified because of the tremendous sacrifices he was making on behalf of his constituents. All the way up until June of this year Tom Emmer has collected per diems, but now in late June, collecting per diems means you don't understand what the word service means in public service.

Stay classy Tom.


Here's the whole interview, it's worth a listen.