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%)

One problem with this poll is that none of the GOP candidates who were tested are likely to run. Tim Pawlenty is running for president and even if he washes up in February, there is little chance he refocuses on the Senate race. Norm Coleman appears to be angling to the RNC job, or some other behind the scenes position which would likely preclude a Senate run.

Tom Emmer is a possibility, especially since he conceded and didn't file a contest, I just don't see it. The residual high negatives from his gubernatorial campaign will still be lingering in 2012.

Many people seem convinced that Bachmann will take on Klobuchar in 2012, but I'm not one of them. The question you have to ask is what would she gain from being a Senator that she doesn't already have in the house. The answer to that question is, nothing. She already has a higher profile and can raise more money than most Senators, why would she risk that for what would be at best a marginal benefit?

That leaves only Eric Paulson, who this poll has the best news for, if it can be said to have good news for anyone other than Amy Klobuchar. That seems counter intuitive given that Eric Paulson's topline number is actually worse than Bachmann's or Emmer's, but it all comes down to name recognition. Let's look at the candidates favorable numbers.

"Do you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of [name]?" Favorable/Unfavorable/Not sure (Net)

Michele Bachmann 37/51/11 (-14)
Norm Coleman 43/42/16 (+1)
Tom Emmer 37/49/14 (-12)
Eric Paulson 22/22/57 (0)

Again, Eric Paulson doesn't have high favorable ratings, but he also doesn't have high unfavorables, like every other GOPer included (PPP didn't test Pawlenty's favorability, for whatever reason). The next best is Norm Coleman, who 42% of the respondents have an unfavorable impression of.

Eric Paulson, by contrast, has only 22% unfavorables while 57% are unsure, meaning he has a lot more room to grow his favorables then the other candidates who are known quantities at this point.

That said, why would anyone in Eric Paulson's position run for Amy Klobuchar's seat in 2012 when Al Franken will be up for re-election in 2014.

"Do you approve or disapprove of Senator [name]’s job performance?" Yes/No/Not sure (Net)

Amy Klobuchar 59/29/12 (+30)
Al Franken 45/42/13 (+3)

From the first sentence of the polling memo:

Amy Klobuchar is the most popular of 66 senators PPP has measured in 2010

I don't think any viable GOPer will want to run against Amy when they can wait two years for a more competitive race. So while this polls is interesting, I don't think we'll actually see any of the above match-ups.


  1. Polls two years out are suspect … what was Russ Feingold’s poll two years out and had anyone heard of Ron Johnson ? Heck, even a year out … think about the early PPP polling for MN-GOV that had Emmer having no name recognition – even amongst Republicans … but in the end, he came within 9000 votes of being the next Governor.

    Senator Klobuchar has enjoyed good support, but that may erode as the next Congress pushes President Obama … and based on Obama’s tax plan, he may be portrayed as a pushover. Senator Coleman lost his race when he voted for TARP … how Senator Klobuchar votes on the Obama tax concession will impact her re-election. The Obama tax concession has nothing good in it for working families and seniors … but it will drive up the debt (increasing the anger of the TaxEnoughAlready movement), continue ethanol subsidies (which Klobuchar supports), eliminates the Making Work Pay tax credit, and reduces contributions to the Social Security Trust Fund making it run out sooner.
    The courts may rule the healthcare reform unconstitutional which re-ignites that issue.
    The Afghanistan situation will linger on.

    All that said, Senator Klobuchar will have plenty of challenges … and the Republican (especially if they are not currently in the House) candidate will be free to make bombastic attacks without any consequences.

    Some comments on the challengers mentioned.
    YES, Pawlenty will make more money by seeking the presidency … at this stage, my money is on him to get elected President (no, actually Bob Perry’s money is in the bag that Pawlenty carries for him … and the Koch brothers should find no problem switching from Romney to Pawlenty.)

    Coleman has learned that there is more money to be made outside of elected office … he doesn’t need to be RNC chairman .. he has more freedom as CEO of American Action Network to run negative ads and collect big bucks … his days of public service are long over.

    Bachmann … well, the appeal would be that the Senate has better rules than the House … she can put holds on judges that favor abortions or same-sex marriage … she can object to any legislation that would restrict business from doing anything it wants. Plus she will be faced with a redrawn district as the Second and Sixth have grown too big. She has the name recognition and fundraising ability to mount a serious challenge. Could she win ? That may be her downfall … but look at what she did this time … she got more votes than in 2006 while the DFL challenger lost votes from 2006. Bachmann is a threat.

    Paulsen … hmm … yes, he is unknown … heck, he underformed Ramstad’s 2006 number … and probably impacted Emmer’s contest by not getting enough likely Republican voters to the polls. He might look at the Mark Kennedy experience and realize that he would do better to stay on the sidelines until Franken is up in an off-year election.

    Emmer … let’s face it, HE LOST … if the MN-GOP had put up Norm Coleman they would have beaten Dayton. Tom Horner hurt, Emmer but look at a county like Olmstead (Rochester) and notice how well the SOS and Auditor did versus how well Emmer did …if those Republican voters had supported Emmer, he would have won. The other factor is that people just did not trust (or like) Emmer … if he had followed other Republicans candidates strategy and rejected debates, he may have done better … he would have focused on his base. Yet, he would be good as the bomb-thrower … sitting in Minnesota getting all the publicity while Klobuchar is tied down by a Republican-inspired Senate. I would never vote for him, but others could.

    The name that was not polled is John Kline. Yeah, Kline has his Committee Chairmanship but as a Senator he would join Jim DeMint and Tom Coburn in shaping policy. He would be a formidable challenger … and he would do it on his terms … NO DEBATES and faux issues … attacking “earmarks” that Klobuchar brought home.

    And what about a Laura Brod type ?

    But the real surprising aspect of the poll was that Al Franken has a positive view by Minnesotans.

  2. Of course any poll done now will have little bearing on the dynamics of 2012, but the fact is Amy Klobuchar is starting from a very strong position.

    +30 job approval is about as good as it gets. It's certainly possible she slips some, but she has done a good job so far of insulating herself from the unpopularity of congress as a whole.

    Bachmann is not a threat to Amy. Yes she has almost universal name recognition, but the majority of those people who know who she is have a negative impression of her.

    Additionally her district is likely to get even more amenable to her after redistricting as the more liberal parts of it are the parts that make the most sense to break off into other districts.

    I think Laura Brod is a very good guess for who will eventually make a run.