As we begin primary voting in Minnesota (early voting here starts Friday, January 17th) we are reminded that the actual election season, not just the never ending campaigning season, is upon us.
One thing you should know before discussing the primary process, there are new rules for how delegates are to be awarded.
The total number of delegates in play on the first vote will be 3,768. To gain the nomination, a candidate will have to get a majority of this this number, or 1884 plus one or more, on the first vote. There are the usual “pledged” delegate vs. “unpledged” (the latter sometimes called “superdelegates”) but with fewer of the latter than in previous years, and they will not be voting on the first ballot. If no candidate meets the 1884+ threshold on the first ballot, all the delegates are released from prior pledges, and superdelegates are thrown into the mix. Then, 4,532 delegates are in play, and a majority, or over 2266, will be required to win.
That is something of an oversimplification. If a single candidate goes into the convention with something like 2,267 pledged delegates, then superdelegates will be allowed to vote. Notice how close the supermajority of pledged and the 50% threshold of all, are. It feels like astrology, but I digress.
Among the pledged delegates, there is a 15% threshold rule per state in allocating delegates. If a candidate gets 15% or more of the vote/caucus delegates, they are in the running for allotted delegates. Then, among those who pass 15%, the delegates are allotted proportionately. If no one gets 15%, then the threshold shifts to one half of whatever the front runner got. So, if the leading candidates gets 12%, then the new threshold is 6%.
Here are two of many possible examples of what could happen in a given state.
The Iowa Caucuses are on February 3rd. In polls, Biden and Sanders are about even, with Buttigieg and Warren competing for third place and all seem to be at or above the threshold. However, the difference between public opinion polls and outcomes is potentially large in a caucus state, because the variation affected by “ground game” is directly reflected in polls when there is a primary, but not in a caucus. In Iowa, keep an eye on Klobuchar, who claims to have a wining or at least result-surprising ground game in the Corn State. That is not a false claim. In other words, anything can happen in Iowa. Iowa will be deciding the commitments for some 41 pledged delegates.
I currently predict, and this is a pure thumb suck estimate, that the four current front runners (Biden, Sanders, Buttigieg and Warren) will roughly split Iowa’s 41 pledged delegates, with Sanders taking the largest share, and Warren the smallest share.
Then comes the famous New Hampshire Primary, on February 11th. New Hampshire has 24 pledged delegates, a very small number, but the Granite State is famous for being a tail wagging the giant sausage making political dog of democracy. There is a good chance that New Hampshire will break in a very similar way as Iowa, with Biden, Sanders, Warren, and Buttigieg all reaching the threshold and sharing delegates with Biden and Sanders getting equal numbers at the top, Warren third, and Buttigieg fourth. But, either Warren or Buttigieg, or both, could fail to meet the 15% threshold. The latest Boston Herald poll has Buttigieg way below that number and Warren near it. Other recent polls have both below it. New Hampshire may well be the make or break moment for Buttigieg.
Then comes the Nevada Caucus on February 22nd. As usual, Nevada has less polling than other states, but there is enough to identify Biden, Sanders and Warren as, once again, the top tier, but with Warren repeatedly polling at just below the threshold. Buttigieg hovers just below them, and not looking like he’d get the 15% threshold. There is a good chance Biden and Sanders will split Nevada’s 36 pledged delegates roughly evenly. This could be a make or break caucus for Warren. But, maybe not.
Then, on Feb 29th, we have the South Carolina primary. The first two events are mainly white semi-rural or rural people deciding who should be president. Nevada Democrats have significant diversity but mainly Hispanic, and a strong labor component. But elections are won or lost on the basis of African American support in this country, and South Carolina is the first event with significant African American participation. Here, Biden is way ahead of everyone else, with Sanders and Warren sharing a distant second place, and hugging that 15% threshold a little too closely for comfort. It is possible that Biden will walk away with all of South Carolina’s 54 pledged delegates. Recent polling has shown Steyer as a factor in this state, and if that is correct, it could be Biden and Steyer splitting those delegates at about a 2:1 ratio. That all depends on if we believe Steyer is for real. I, personally, am not sure.
At this point, what we know now will still be true: Biden and Sanders are front runners. Warren is a factor, likely Butigieg is a factor. If nothing unusual happens, we will be entering Super Tuesday with a Biden-Sanders fight. However, Warren could outperform and pop, or Butigieg could take the threshold in three of these four states, or Steyer could buy his way in, er, I mean, well, whatever, you know what I mean. The point is this: We are watching a horse race with two odds-on horses, both old white guys but one progressive and one centrist, and one of them likely to win. But, there are these two or three other horses in the race that could woosh by either or both of them in these first four furlongs.
But then, Super Tuesday comes along. Sixteen entities, mostly states, vote on Super Tuesday, for a total of 1357 pledged delegates. Using information from polling, or if no polling exists, the thumb-suck-estimate method, assuming that no candidate has an unexpected break-through event in early states (or otherwise), and assuming that Biden, Warren, and Sanders are the only candidates likely to be viable for most of the primaries (Klobuchar will take a good number of Minnesota votes), the following shows a reasonable estimate of the outcome of Super Tuesday. Remember, this is based only on polls (this is not a predictive model) and polls are sparse in many of these states.
This is, in my view, the “null model” of what is going to happen between now and the day after Super Tuesday. It is a model to be defied by individual candidates, broken by the voters, altered by circumstances, manipulated by the Russians, etc. There is more uncertainty in this season’s Democratic primary than seen in the recent past, especially with a couple of billionaires showing up at the last second to buy the presidency, and according to the polling, making a dent.
The Trump presidency had done a tremendous amount of damage, to our country, our society, our culture, and civilization in general. It is appalling. The only thing more appalling than Trump himself at this point is the gaggle of Senate Republicans who support Trump. They are the sticking point. Were they to give the go-ahead, Trump would be out of office in ten days.
It suddenly occurred to me that one of the more interesting political shows happening in the country right now is largely unreported nationally, and that many of my friends and readers who are not living in the North Star State are missing it. I’m talking about the Minnesota Primary.
Interesting, I say, but not necessarily consequential. Yes, how red or blue the state ends up being is partly determined by the upcoming Primary (next Tuesday), but in the end, Republicans will put up Republicans, Democrats will put up Democrats, and then those two groups will fight it out. But, despite that inevitability, there are a number of races that will be on the tips of the pundit’s tongues next week, and on election day in November. Also, there are some interesting recent developents, one of which has not hit the national press yet, but will any second now.
The big race is for governor. As you know, I supported Rebecca Otto, but she did not win the endorsement at the state convention, and having promised to abide by the endorsement, she left the race. Erin Murphy was endorsed. Also seeking the endorsement was Congressman Tim Walz, who never promised to abide by the endorsement, and who remains in the race.
In order to understand how this gets interesting, we need to have a flashback and go way back in time, to just over a year ago today. That is when Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson unofficially said she might run for governor.
For reasons that I never understood, and now see as being very iffy, most Democrats in Minnesota, at that time, thought very highly of Swanson, and saw her as very very electable, to any office. She seemed to have a very effective campaign strategy, though even until recently I’d never identified a person who could explain her strategy to me. Anyway, since Swanson was suggesting she might run for governor, several individuals declared their tentative candidacy for Attorney General. They all said, if Swanson runs for Governor, they’ll stay in that race, but if Swanson doesn’t run for Governor, they’d give sway and drop out. I remember talking as some length with one of those candidates last August, urging her to stay in the race no matter what. She would not hear of it. Nobody would ever consider running against Swanson.
I never liked that Lori Swanson did that. It made the whole gubernatorial thing harder. Also, she was, in effect cheating. When my candidate, Otto, did some brilliant thing or another as part of her job, it could not be publicized because that would be unethical use of the office for campaigning. But even a lackadaisical attack on Trump by Attorney General Swanson became a “look at me, I’m great” campaign issue, since she was not officially running.
Eventually, very very late in the process. Swanson indicated that she was not running for governor. At about the same time, a young lawyer named Matt Pelikan decided he wasn’t going to screw around like all the others. He simply ran against Swanson.
At the time, I was working endorsing conventions, so I was at the state senate level conventions for the DFL on several different occasions. This meant that I got to see every candidate running for state level office give their stump speech several times. I remember when I saw Pelikan the first time. He said all these things that were impossible, indicating that our Democratic Attorney General was a friend of the NRA (not just a little, but a lot), had a weak position on Trump’s travel ban, and all sorts of other things. I figured this guy Pelikan was nuts, because none of those things could be true.
I’m the kind of person that others sometimes come to for advice on voting. They are not following the issues or candidates too closely, and they know that I am, and I can give them some helpful advice. Well, there are other people who are the kind that I go to for advice on candidates and issues. The deep gurus. At the time that I was seeing Pelikan’s stump speech every few days, I contacted some of these trusted confidants. They all assured me that Swanson was fine, go ahead and support her, bla bla bla.
Well, I still love and respect those individuals, but in doing my own research, I found out they were all wrong. The great ability of Lori Swanson seems to have been to convince people she was a strong progressive Democrat doing an excellent job, when really, she was a centrist at best, and it was not at all clear that she was doing a great job.
So, when I went, as a delegate elected by my Senate District, to the State Convention in Rochester, I had decided I’d vote for Pelikan. I really liked him.
Here is what was supposed to happen:
1) Pelikan gets up and makes an impassioned speak about his values and his value as a candidate. As part of his time, his husband makes a short but rousing endorsement. There is a short film favorable to him.
2) Swanson has a series of surrogates speak for her first, including some well known major democrats, cute young kids, and a variety of people with various traits that show how great Swanson is. All inclusive and stuff. This is followed by Swanson giving her great speech.
3) We vote, and the vote is something like 90% Swanson 10% Pelikan, if Pelikan is lucky. (A candidate needs 60% to be endorsed, and there can be several votes in a row to get there.
What really happened:
Item 1 from above. Not everyone agrees with me, oddly, but I felt that Pelikan’s speech was one of the best at the convention. Others do share that view. Former Minneapolis Mayor RT Rybak, Senator Amy Klobuchar, a couple of others, and Pelikan were all in the same echelon.
2) Swanson’s “normal people” surrogates, unpracticed and inexperienced most of them, each took too long to get through their spiel. The very famous former AG and Gubernatorial candidate Mike Hatch, one of the surrogates, wandered and babbled. Time was called. There was no nice movie, no speech from Swanson. Everyone is sitting there, like, what?
3) We vote, and it is something like 52% Swanson, 48% Pelikan. The crowd goes wild. It is pretty clear that Pelikan has momentum. The chances are very high that he’ll pass Swanson on the next vote.
Just as we are starting to vote in the next round, Swanson drops out.
And that is when everything went crazy.
It took minutes for about a dozen people in very high places to put two and two together and realize that the AG slot was open. Swanson was not, people guessed, and later, got confirmed, going to stay in that race and run in the primary. She was going to swoop in out of nowhere and run in the primary for governor!
Some of the people who had previously fake-ran for AG when Swanson was toying with a gubernatorial run realized this was their chance, and some who had not as well. What unfolded unfolded fast over a few days.
Congressman Keith Ellison, up for re-election in Minnesota’s fifth district and DFL endorsed, quit his race for that seat in Congress and declared he would run for AG. That left open the fifth district. A whole bunch of people jumped into that race. Swanson added soon to be ex Congressman Nolan of Minnesota’s eight district to her ticket. Some of the people now running for AG left open seats they had been holding.
Meanwhile, Senator Al Franken had resigned from the Senate and was replaced with the appointed Tina Smith. Senator Smith is running for election to her seat in a special election this year (on normal election day). She is being challenged by former Republican Richard Painter, a law professor at the University of Minnesota (and by the way a former teacher of Matt Pelikan), and a former ethics lawyer in the Bush White House. At the convention, Painter did very well despite having only barely campaigned and only entering the race a few weeks earlier. Smith and Painter will, like the rest of them, face off in next Tuesday’s primary.
So now we have a very confusing primary.
Erin Murphy (DFL Endorsed)
The current and important news about this race:
1) Polls show the endorsed Murphy ticket to be significantly behind. I do not expect her to win the primary. Swanson and Walz were both doing about as well as each other until about 48 hours ago.
2) Breaking news from yesterday or the day before. The accusation is being credibly made that Swanson, while in the AG office, never actually hired staff for any of her campaigns (and this is said to continue for the current race for governor) and instead, used her government staff to do that. If that turns out to be real and is disseminated widely enough before Tuesday, it could kill her chances. I don’t know how bad this can get. I think most Democrats voting in the DFL primary who know about this, who were inclined to vote for Swanson, might beg off now. People might think, if the accusations are true, isn’t that illegal? Won’t that make the chance of her actually being governor be roughly zero?
I’m not tracking the Republican contests here, but I’ll note that for governor, Tim “We’ve Had Pawlenty of Tim” Pawlenty is trying to make a comeback. The big fight between Pawlenty and his main opponent Jeff Johnson is how much like Trump they each are. But I’m not sure if they are trying to be more like Trump or less like Trump. I imagine neither of them is sure of that either.
DFL Endorsed Matt Pelikan
I think Ellison and his supporters believe that between name recognition and reputation, he might easily win this primary. The problem is, Minnesota is highly bifurcated. Most Minnesotans are either pretty liberal or full on yahoo right wing. The liberals would enjoy Ellison for several reasons, including the fact that he is a person of color and a Muslim. We would like to be the first state with a black Muslim AG. But, the yahoos won’t have anything to do with him and have always hated him.
In the primary, this means, how many Democrats will think, “I like him and all, but he can’t win in rural areas where the yahoos live, so no…”
Meanwhile Pelikan has been campaigning steadily and effectively. If the endorsing convention is anything to go by, he may do very well.
Hilstrom is locally liked a great deal, but I would guess she is mostly locally known. Nobody knows who the other two are.
I really have no idea what will happen, but I think there is a non zero chance of Pelikan pulling this off. I will be voting for him, of course.
There are actually a whole bunch of people running in the special election for Senate.
Tina Smith is the DFL endorsed incumbent. She is liked by many according to many, and I know many who support her. But she damaged herself enormously when she came out with some highly questionable environmental legislation, which turned many against her. Richard Painter is the opposite. People are suspicious of him because he is a former Republican. But, his position on those environmental issues is strongly favored by those who are unhappy with Smith’s decisions. Remember, this is a primary, so it is a good guess that faithful DFLers will vote in numbers for the endorsed candidate. I predict Painter will do much better than most expect. I have no idea who will win.
Down in Congressional District 5, now an open seat with Ellison leaving to run for AG, there are five candidates running in the primary. Ilhan Omar is the DFL endorsed candidate (endorsed in a hastily convened endorsing convention). If she is ultimately seated, she will be a black (native African) Muslim female replacing a mere male black (native born) Muslim. So that’s a sort of upgrade. Also, she is very well liked, so I strongly suspect she’ll win the primary. Whichever Democrat wins the primary will win the seat in November.
The other candidates, though, include some very popular individuals. Margaret Anderson Kelliher is a mainstream liberal DFLer, endorsed last time there was an open seat for Governor (but she lost the primary to now-Governor Dayton). Also running is Patricia Torres Ray who is locally popular. And two other guys, including a Francis Drake, but not the guy with the boat.
So, Omar will very likely win that, but it will be interesting to see how others fair.
Minnesota’s Eighth Congressional District is the big cry baby of districts. This is the mining region, as well as a major tourism region. It is where the wolves live. One percent of the state’s economy is in mining, but most of the politicians pretend that the mining interests, both the businesses and the mining jobs, should drive politics state wide. Unions agree. If you are a Democrat and you point out that anything from Indian Gaming to tourism to building clean energy facilities is way bigger than mining and always will be, you will be vilified. I assume that this love of a small and mostly dead industry comes from well heeled supporters who are not only from outside Minnesota, but outside the US entirely. The mining business is large, and it is dangerous. I fully expect to be pressured to delete the very paragraph you are reading.
Anyway, because of things like mining, pipelines, hippie punching, and some very duplicitous actors in the DFL, the eight district could not endorse a candidate this year. So they’ve got five people running. If you want to know, I support Michelle Lee, but I think Kirsten Kennedy has some real future potential and she truly appreciates clean energy. Jason Metsa is the mining guy. A couple of others are running too, don’t know anything about them.
For more detail, more uniform coverage, info on the Republicans and on race I’m ignoring, check out this overview at MinnPost.
First, a little clarification on the “Light Brigade.” This term originally referred to a British military unit of light (as in not heavy) cavalry that engaged with the Russians (the enemy in this story) during the Crimean War, in October, 1854. The brigade, made up of Light Dragoons, Lancers, and Hussars, was tasked to take over some territory from which Turkish (not the enemy) troops had been vanquished, in order to prevent the Russians from recovering artillery pieces left there. But somehow, there was a miscommunication, and the Light Brigade was sent to attack a well fortified and entrenched enemy unit that they had no business dealing with. This assault gained no ground and 110 of about 670 troops were killed, 161 wounded. Continue reading The Charge of the Light Brigade: A Cautionary Tale→
In just a few days, Minnesota will have its precinct caucuses. All the different political parties will caucus at exactly the same time, at different locations, by law, to make it difficult for some joker to go to more than one (which would be illegal, but nearly impossible to enforce).
Here’s why: All the available data strongly indicates that Otto will beat all the other contenders across state in the upcoming Governor’s race.
Democrats have two major problems to face in 2018 and beyond. First, how do we win elections? Second, how do we remain true to our progressive and liberal roots?
For Democrats, 2018 is a must-win election, and Minnesotans have a lot at stake. Will the state remain the shining star of the North, or will it go the way of Wisconsin, and sink into a Republican dark age of union busting, environment polluting, professor bashing, service slashing, and economic activity destruction?
Of all the candidates running or suspected of running for Governor in 2018, Rebecca Otto is the only one who can most clearly win and at the same time preserve and advance core, human based, Democratic ideals, in my opinion.
The smart move for the DFL in 2018 is to turn to a candidate that has won several times statewide and has strong name recognition, positive feeling among the voters engendered by her commitment to widely held values, and a strong base of support. State Auditor Rebecca Otto is the only candidate with that resumé. Otto has racked up several historic victories, including the largest upset of an incumbent in 112 years, and is positioned to do it again in 2018. Her statewide electoral prowess far outstrips her nearest competitor, Tim Walz, who is largely unknown outside of his first district, and is untested statewide. Beyond that, Otto stands for strong for Democratic values, while Walz has shown himself to be a DINO-style Democrat. Walz enjoys a very high rating from the NRA, for example, and in February of 2013 was one of only six Democrats in Congress to vote to expand gun sales to the severely mentally ill, over the objections of senior generals including David Petraeus, Michael Hayden and Stanley McChrystal.
On the environment and climate change, Walz again voted with Republicans on anti-environmental bills progressives strongly opposed. He voted with Republicans in favor of building the Keystone XL pipeline. He introduced a bill, siding with Eric Paulsen, to expand offshore oil drilling. Walz refused to provide voters with positions on several other key issues covered by the 2016 Vote Smart Political Courage Test, despite repeated requests. Historically, candidates have failed to complete the test in part due to “fear of negative attack ads,” according to that group. In contrast, Rebecca Otto opposes unrestricted gun sales and supports common-sense, reasonable measures to prevent mass shootings by mentally ill individuals. Otto is also the acknowledged statewide leader on environmental issues, and cast multiple courageous votes against multinational corporate interests, in an effort to protect the environment even while being harshly attacked by industry advocates. Indeed, she and her husband live in a solar home they built with their own hands.
So why are some party elites pushing Walz over the far more progressive, experienced, and courageous, and environmental Rebecca Otto? Because they think we need a DINO to win, and appear to have lost touch with the party rank and file, just as they did in 2016. Walz is a talented but glad-handing politician, and older DFLers, the kind that promoted Hillary Clinton despite the rank and file’s strong preference for Bernie Sanders, find an old white traditional male politician to be a safer, steadier choice when the stakes of losing run high. But that is EXACTLY the kind of thinking that loses elections, because it disenfranchises party activists, it is reactionary instead of visionary, and it selects candidates from on high who are less able to capture the imagination of voters as something new and different. Considering that Democrats have never won the Governor’s seat two administrations in a row, that lack of contrast and imagination is a major concern in contemplating a Walz candidacy.
In their fear, the party elders who have endorsed Walz are willing to overlook Walz’s anti-progressive, anti-environmental voting history, thinking a DINO is what voters want. But they’re wrong. Hillary Clinton was anointed by the same party elites, and she underperformed Barack Obama in Minnesota by 180,000 votes. Hillary Clinton had many good qualities, but last cycle, Minnesotans showed they were ready to embrace bold, progressive leadership, the kind of leadership that they believe, based on track record, won’t sell them out on key issues when the going gets tough. They want a candidate who runs outside strict party affiliation, who thinks independently, and who takes stands for ordinary people instead of the wealthy elite or big corporations even if it means the corporations will mount attacks. They want the kind of principled, fearless leadership shown by Bernie Sanders and Rebecca Otto, not the calculating, fearful, history of Tim Walz.
But what about Trump? Didn’t Greater Minnesota go heavily for Trump? Didn’t the Minnesota Senate go Republican and the House go even more Republican? Considering all this, don’t we need a more conservative and calculating Democrat from Greater Minnesota to bridge the so-called “urban-rural divide”? That’s what some party elites argued when pushing Tim Walz. But Rebecca Otto is the only candidate who resides at the intersections of urban, suburban, exurban, and rural, on a small farm outside the Twin Cities. This means everyone can claim her as theirs.
But more importantly, the “urban-rural divide” appears to be a Republican myth that Democrats should not buy into. The evidence shows that Donald Trump received almost the identical number of votes in Minnesota as Mitt Romney did in 2012, so the notion that Donald Trump surged in Minnesota is false. Rather, Hillary Clinton underperformed Barack Obama’s 2012 Minnesota numbers by nearly 180,000 votes. The congressional districts that went the most heavily for Donald Trump in the general election (7, 6, 8, and 1) also largely went the most heavily for Bernie Sanders in the primary.
Clinton’s underperformance meant that 180,000 Democrats stayed home not just from her race, but from all races. That meant there were fewer Democrats out voting while Republicans were out in their usual numbers, so despite the DFL spending record dollars, Democrats lost every close race. Some portion of this has to be laid at the feet of party elites who, for all her advantages, interfered in the process by backing Clinton too early and loudly, lining the machine up behind her as “the front runner” and disenfranchising Sanders voters who, the above numbers show, stayed home. Some of these same elites are making the same costly mistake in 2018 by backing Walz.
The results of the 2016 election can more accurately be interpreted as an anti-establishment vote and not reflective of an urban-rural divide — and that is a reading which favors Rebecca Otto as the DFL candidate for governor.
Unlike Walz, Otto has always run largely without the support of the party kingmakers and big money players, focusing her energies on rank-and-file grassroots activists, in the style of Bernie Sanders and Paul Wellstone. In so doing, she has always outperformed the DFL candidate for Governor, racking up historic victories in election after election. This approach also led her to an historic victory in the 2014 primary, when a self-financed candidate outspent her 4 to 1, and she beat him 81%–19%.
Rebecca Otto does very well on the Iron Range, and understanding why that is so leads to a full appreciation of her standing with Minnesota voters. Otto voted to protect the BWCA and Lake Superior watersheds from copper-nickel mining until we get better financial assurances from multinational mining companies. Many assumed this would hurt her on the Range and cost her the election as governor, but the facts show just the opposite. Indeed, the “done on the range” argument is from the Republican, not Democratic, playbook.
Otto vastly outperformed both Governor Mark Dayton and Congressman Rick Nolan in every county on the Iron Range and across the entire 8th Congressional District in 2014, improving her margins after her vote. To see if Otto’s brave and thoughtful stand on nonferrous mining cost her any votes, we can compare her margin of victory in the 2010 and 2014 races in the Iron Range counties. (Note: The margin of victory is recognized as the best way to compare across counties, etc., because of differences in ballots across different precincts or elections. These data are from the Secretary of State’s office.)
Otto grew her margin in every Iron Range county in 2014 by an impressive average gain of 9.51 points, for a 72% bigger margin across the Iron Range as a whole. Remember, this happened after the controversy on the range, in which Rebecca Otto took what many thought would be the less popular stand, knowing it was the right thing to do. This happened after Otto explained her position and helped people see, through an examination of long term goals and shared values, that her position was the right one for the people of the state in general and the Iron Range in particular. This is a reality that her Republican (and other) detractors on the range do not like to hear about and tend to react rather poorly to, in my experience.
The most important thing DFLers need to realize is that Rebecca Otto was the only Democrat to actually vote for Democratic values on this issue, while others were afraid to. Otto can rightly borrow Paul Wellstone’s phrase, “I represent the Democratic wing of the Democratic party,” when others cannot. If Democrats don’t stop compromising on their key values they will continue to lose like they did in 2016 because there will be no reason for DFLers to vote for them. I believe voters are well aware of this, this and appreciate Rebecca Otto for it.
Was it a fluke? Maybe Otto just had an easier race in 2014. Let’s look at Governor Dayton’s Iron Range performance and see if there is any difference.
Here again, Otto’s 2014 margin of victory on the Iron Range was 1.54 points higher than Gov. Mark Dayton’s and 4.41% higher than Dayton’s across the 8th CD as a whole. While Otto performed better in every county in 2014 than in 2010, Dayton lost points in 5 of 7 Iron Range counties and across the 8th CD as a whole.
When comparing Otto’s margin to Nolan’s margin, Otto’s outperformance becomes even more striking. Here, Otto completely trounced Nolan’s performance in his own congressional district, to a truly stunning degree.
Otto outperformed Nolan by 12.15 points on the very Iron Range that was supposed to cost her re-election. And Otto’s margins were even better on the Iron Range than they were in the 8th CD as a whole, where she outperformed the Congressman’s margin by a stunning 10 points. Otto’s strong popularity is why Nolan asked her to headline or speak at events. Often, she was the only statewide elected official or party officer there for him at these events.
The evidence is absolutely clear and abundant that Rebecca Otto’s courageous stand on nonferrous mining earned her votes on the Iron Range. Suggestions to the contrary are not backed up by the facts.
What about Otto’s appeal in urban and suburban areas? The candidate with the best chance of winning the Governor’s race can appeal to voters in both Greater Minnesota, and in urban and suburban areas. So, let’s look at Otto’s performance in the state’s most liberal, urban, and populous area, Congressional District 5, home of Minneapolis. We’ll use its high-profile Congressman Keith Ellison as our benchmark.
Rebecca Otto and Keith Ellison both began their terms in 2003 as State Representatives. In 2006 when Otto was elected State Auditor, Ellison won the DFL endorsement for a rare open seat in Congress, making him the shoe-in in the general election because of the CD5 DFL index.
The following compares Rebecca Otto’s CD5 performance to the Ellison benchmark in each house district in the congressional district:
It turns out that Rebecca Otto is also an exceptionally strong performer in urban/suburban areas, outperforming Congressman Ellison’s margins in 14 of 20 house districts, and across the 5th CD as a whole. Note that Ellison’s performance in his own district is stellar, so Otto’s comparable but better performance is stellar-plus.
Rebecca’s urban and suburban support is not limited to CD5. In CD4, Rebecca outperformed the benchmark Congresswoman McCollum’s margin in 13 of 21 House districts in, and across the congressional district as a whole.
Because of her strong performance and experience in urban, suburban, exurban and rural areas, Rebecca Otto outperformed the margins of every gubernatorial candidate she has been on the ballot with — Tim Pawlenty, Mike Hatch, and Mark Dayton — in 2006, 2010, and 2014.
Rebecca Otto also unseated an incumbent, and she did it by the largest margin in 112 years, in a race for a seat that had been occupied by Republicans for 134 of its 149 years. This was an enormous and historic upset — on a level that Walz can only dream of.
Otto then made history a second time when she won a tough re-election against the same opponent while being heavily targeted by the Republican Party, and without help from the DFL Party, becoming the only Democrat to be re-elected to the Auditor’s post in Minnesota history. Otto is now in her third term, and made it a third time with her absolutely crushing defeat of Matt Entenza in the 2014 DFL primary.
There is only one candidate with both the electoral experience and the track record of standing up for what’s right without fear or favor, and it is Rebecca Otto. Rebecca is authentic, warm, humble, yet tough, willing to fight for what is right, and these aspects of her character are already widely known. She is widely recognized by State Auditors around the country, winning every major award and serving as president of the national organization of State Auditors. She has Republican support as well as Democratic. In fact, it was former Governor and State Auditor Arne Carlson who first asked her to run for State Auditor. She has strong executive experience at the state level, and she knows how to manage the legislature. On all these measures, Governor Otto would be one of the most qualified new governors on her first day in the State House.
This is a year in which voters are looking for a truly progressive candidate, and it is right that they do so. Voters want a candidate who actually contrasts with Republicans instead of voting like one of them, a candidate who has powerful statewide executive and electoral experience and yet has demonstrated that she won’t sell out progressive values. Rebecca Otto is exactly that candidate.
In a year when so much is at stake, it is time to give voters a strong contrasting choice instead of a Democrat In Name Only practicing familiar old-style politics. It is a year when Minnesota is finally ready to elect a populist female governor, and we have such a candidate with the state executive and electoral experience to make that a reality. With only stunning and historic victories behind her, Gubernatorial candidate Rebecca Otto is in ready to make history yet again.
Tina Liebling Endorses Rebecca Otto for Governor
Liebling calls Otto “bold and progressive,” says she “can go toe to toe” with any Republican>
In the first endorsement of a DFL gubernatorial candidate by a former candidate for the office, State Representative Tina Liebling (DFL-26A) today endorsed State Auditor Rebecca Otto for Governor of Minnesota.
“For too many Minnesotans, opportunity seems out of reach. They know that the economy is rigged against them, and they are looking for a leader who will stand up to the special interests and fight for them,” Liebling said in making the endorsement. “Rebecca Otto is that leader. She has a bold, clear, progressive vision for Minnesota with ordinary people at its center.”
Liebling also said she believes Otto is the strongest candidate electorally. “She can go toe to toe with any candidate the Republicans put forward and will give Minnesotans a real choice in November,” said Liebling. “Campaigns can’t be won without money, but money will not win the campaign. For that we need a candidate who is both progressive and bold. I believe that Rebecca Otto is both, and I am pleased to endorse her candidacy for Governor of Minnesota.
“I have always had great respect for Tina as a smart, progressive leader who is not afraid to tackle issues of great importance,” said Otto. “I am very honored to have her support. Having Tina on our team will be critical to securing the DFL endorsement at the State Convention in June.”
Otto said she appreciated Liebling’s policy expertise on issues she has heard about repeatedly in listening sessions and on the campaign trail. “Representative Liebling has important health care expertise and has worked for years to move Minnesota to a Single Payer health care system,” Otto said. “She will be a great partner in moving Minnesota to a more efficient, cost-effective health care system that is no longer tied to your job – a system where everyone receives high quality health care, where we remove administrative burdens for our doctors and medical professionals and allow them to focus back on our health.”
Otto also acknowledged Representative Liebling’s work and advocacy around the legalization of marijuana. Last session, Liebling introduced a bill that would legalize and regulate personal use of marijuana.
“I respect Tina for leading this important discussion. We need to move away from the failed criminal justice approach to drug use and focus on a public health approach,” said Otto. “Prohibition of cannabis does a lot of harm to our state and disproportionately impacts people of color. As governor I would support decriminalizing marijuana and expunging criminal records for those convicted of non-violent marijuana-related offenses. We need to have a thoughtful, open, evidence-based conversation as a state about how to reduce the harm of addiction while respecting the autonomy of Minnesotans.”
Rebecca Otto was first elected Minnesota’s State Auditor in 2006, unseating a high-profile Republican incumbent by the largest margin in 112 years for a seat that had been Republican for 90 percent of state history. She is the first woman Democrat to be elected State Auditor, and the only Democrat to be re-elected to the office. Prior to that she served as a State Representative from the St. Croix Valley area, and before that as a School Board Member in the Forest Lake Area school district.
A lot of people are offering free advice to the Democratic Party these days. This is natural in the wake of a resounding defeat, especially a defeat that was snatched so clumsily from the jaws of victory.
I gave some advice a while back (see: Why Trump Won And How To Fix That For Future Elections). Since then, I’ve spent a lot of time with a lot of those folks who appeared on the scene, often as members of Indivisible groups, after the election. I see a lot of frustration with the Democratic Party (and our local DFL, which is what we call the Democratic Party in Minnesota). Here are my new suggestions inspired by what I hear people saying out there in the libraries, public meeting rooms, and town halls, at least in suburban Minnesota.
Be A Party
Remember when a judge ruled on an issue regarding voter suppression during the 2016 election? Well, there were a few such rulings, but one had to do with a consent decree against the Republican Party, forcing them to not actively force African Americans and other non-whites away from the polls using intimidation, fear, and misinformation. The concern was that the Trump campaign was doing this, therefore the several years old consent decree should be continued.
The court ruled against extending the consent decree. Why? Because the Trump campaign wasn’t threatening voters? No. They were. Because threatening voters can’t actually change an election’s outcome? No. It can. Because we decided it is OK to exclude minorities from the democratic process officially, not just by default? No. That was not decided.
The consent decree was not extended because the Trump campaign and the Republican party are two different things. Extending the consent decree on the Republican Party because of what the Trump campaign was doing would be like the police arresting you because I rob a gas station.
Crazy, isn’t it? Both major parties have a national organization, plus an organization that helps fund but otherwise has nothing to do with Congressional races. Then, each state has a separate iteration of the party, not quite fully connected to the national party. And, a given candidate’s campaign may or may not have various legal connections with other party entities.
This is actually very complicated, and varies across the landscape.
The point is, regular normal people who are not party insiders can’t really relate to a political party without frequently getting burned or being confused because there is not a political party.
Now, I’m not saying that there should be one entity to serve all the needs of the party across geography and at every level of government. I have no idea if the multi-headed hydra approach is a good thing or a bad thing. I’ve not analyzed that. Perhaps an expert or two will weigh in below, in the comments section.
But I do know this: A sense of oneness, simplicity, and therefore, accessibility to the inside of it, could be engendered to the benefit of the party. The way it works now, individuals can sidle up to what they think is the Democratic Party, then an entity one might easily think is the same entity does some bone-headed thing, and that’s when the regular normal person finds out that their friend, the Democratic Party, has a built in way of making excuses instead of taking responsibility for its actions.
The party asks for unity among its supporters. Fine. But the party should also develop some unity and coherence within itself, so that people can understand it better, and know, that if they are involved at the Congressional District or County level somewhere, that their voices are being clearly heard by the national party as well as the presidential campaign and all of that.
Go read those posts to get the details, but essentially, this: We are experiencing endorsement creep, especially by individuals but also organizations. The creep is towards the early date. Insiders, like elected officials or former elected officials, and key organizations, are starting to give Democratic candidate endorsements before many people have even heard which candidates are running. That is a clear message to the voters and would be party participants: Don’t bother, we’ve got this. Please, please, please, Democratic party activists and operatives and sympathetic organizations. Stop this. You are damaging the party, and forcing people to make what suddenly seems a very justified decision to walk away from the party and consider themselves independent. Or worse.
Again, read those articles to get more details.
Try To Act Alive Even While You Are Resting
Meanwhile, as endorsements are too early, other activities are too late. Many of the Indivisible activists I so frequently encounter are wondering where the Democratic Party is. Well, the Democratic Party is there, and they are having various meetings and such, but they are not very visible and the meetings are generally over rather esoteric stuff. A political party has seasonality, because elections are periodic. So, this makes sense.
But right now, people are scared, angry, frustrated, and are trying to do something about the current horrendous situation in American government and politics. Seasonality be damned, get into action!
Several months from now, the seemingly asleep Democratic Party will lumber out of its cave, look around, and try to decide which Republicans to eat. But by that time the rest of the people will have already killed several awful bills, made a large number of elected representatives rethink their strategy of ignoring the voters in their districts, and generally changed the mode and tenor of politics at several levels across the country. Without help or involvement of the Democratic Party.
The party will turn to those activists and ask for their help. The activists will look back at the party, and say, “Who are you? Oh, right, you are the political party that lost all those races. Don’t worry, we’ve got this.” then turn back to their work. I don’t think the Democratic Party wants that.
Political parties change their modus operendus and culture about every 30 years, a major exception being Tammany Hall, which, as a tightly run organized crime organization, kept going for much longer. Sometimes that turnover is accompanied by the disappearance of one party or the emergence of a new one. Seriously, Democrats, you are facing an existential crisis, and you don’t even know it.
Put People Choosing Candidates Above Other Party Business
A detail, but an important one. Please, at conventions and caucuses, do this. If there is a point at which people are expected to vote on candidates, do that first. I have never been to a DFL convention at which the time given to candidates to speak and the time given to participants to vote or caucus isn’t crunched by party business, at least a little, sometimes a lot. Do the esoteric party business last, even if that means doing it at a different meeting later on. (Fact: All DFL conventions are held in rooms that are available only up to a certain hour, at which time everyone has to be out of the room.)
Make Primaries Easier, Caucuses More Engaging
There has been quite a bit of discussion about this, and I have previously offered a solution, not too different from one being considered. (see: How to fix the Minnesota Presidential Caucus). The bottom line: The caucus is what people really need, and the primary is what the people really want. There is a way to have both, we sort of already have both. We just need to adjust a few things to make everyone whine less, which is about as good as it is going to get.
Acknowledge The Waking Giant
I’ve already said this above, in a different way, but it is worth repeating. I was at an Indivisible Event a couple of months ago at which several thousand people spontaneously showed up to yell at a Republican. The Democrats have never managed that, by the way. I was speaking to a woman who had previously never been involved in politics but who suffered through a major traffic jam and was now standing outside in the breezy cold to make her point. She said to me, “They have woken a sleeping giant. And she is pissed.”
I have yet to see any member of the Democratic Party, in any form, acknowledge this phenomenon. WTF, man? Fail to do this at your peril.
Don’t be a brat, eat a brat
Have more events that get people together. The party tends to have certain events and they tend to do a lot of work at these events.
Indivisible has a lot of events and they do a lot of work at those events. When people walk away from the Democratic Party events, they feel like they’ve been involved in something that could be important. When people walk away from an Indivisible event, they feel like they’ve just left a gathering among friends at which they started to figure out a way to survive an uncertain future.
The Democratic Party should start hosting community meetings of its own, inviting everyone including Indivisible to show up, not to have a candidate listen to the people but to have the people listen to each other.
See you at the Tax March, which was not organized by and seems to have nothing to do with the Democratic Party even though it is an event necessitated by the Democratic Party losing bigly at the national level.
Much has been made of the fact that Sanders got 55% of female votes, more than 44% for Clinton. That is indeed significant. But little has been said about the fact that among males, 66% voted for Sanders and 32% for Clinton. (55% of the Democratic Primary voters were female, 45% male.)
93% of the Democratic Primary voters were white, 2% black, and the numbers are so small that almost nothing can be said about this important distinction among voters. This is unfortunate because this will impact several upcoming races. But grouping all nine of the non-white New Hampshire voters together (I exaggerate humorously) we see that among the 7% of non-white voters, they broke nearly evenly, with Clinton getting 50% and Sanders getting 49%. Some will find that unexpected. Still, it is hard to say what this means for, say South Carolina.
The Youth Vote and New Voters
Much has been said of the age distribution of voters. Sanders took a lot of young votes. Sanders took a majority in age categories from 18-64.
This is good news and bad news for Sanders and for the Democrats. First the good news: Insurgent elections have been won with emerging, excited young votes piling up behind and candidate. This suggests that Sanders can surge across the country, and then, in the general election, do well. It also suggests that if Clinton ends up as the nominee, she will have some newly engaged youth vote behind her, if they stick with the process.
Now the bad news: Young voters seem to have a lower chance of actually showing up at the polls even if they are engaged in the process. This is a long election season. There are constant GOP efforts to interfere with college voters, playing on the residence issue (many young voters move to or from home during the year, and the GOP tries to get them to not vote at all costs.) So, this youth vote may not be as big of an effect in November as it is now. Also, if Clinton ends up as the nominee, will the Sanders-energized youth vote simply stay home, or worse, vote for a Republican?
More importantly, when asked about levels of satisfaction vs. dissatisfaction if a particular candidate won the nomination, the level of dissatisfaction among Sanders supporters is much much higher than among Clinton supporters. If Clinton wins the nomination, she may not carry with her much of the Sanders surge.
83% of the New Hampshire Primary voters had voted in earlier Democratic primaries. 57% of these voters voted for Sanders, 41% for clinton.
17% of this year’s New Hampshire Primary voters had not perviously voted in a Democratic primary. That may be a big number, but it would sure be nice if it was bigger, indicating a bigger groundswell for either candidate. Among those new voters, 78% voted for Sanders, 21% for Clinton, confirming the idea that Sanders is bringing in voters, at least to his side.
Sanders beat Clinton in all family income levels except the top range, but the differences near the top may correlate with, and be caused by, the age distribution of voters. But at the lower end, Sanders did way better than Clinton. He took 71% of the under 30K range, 60% in the 30-40K range, and 64% in the 50-100K range. It was more even in the 100-200K range, but Sanders still won there, with Clinton beating sanders only in the 200+K range.
Sanders voters were generally more liberal, but as we go from very liberal through moderate, the overall balance between the two candidate changes very little. People are not picking Sanders or Clinton on the basis of their own self identification of liberal vs. moderate to a very large extent, though Sanders did do better in the “very liberal” category. There is a difference, it is just not that large.
Astonishingly, shockingly, embarrassingly, and annoyingly, almost unconscionably, NBC did not think to ask about climate change. Just as important, when asked what issues were important to them, voters didn’t seem to mention climate change either. This is bad.
Sanders did a little better than Clinton among those who consider Health Care and Terrorism important, but not more-better than overall in the primary, so there is not a difference here. He did about the same on economy and jobs voters as he did in the overall polling, so again, not a meaningful effect. However, it was Sanders at 70% to Clinton at 29% among voters who identified income inequality as their most important issue. I suspect young, somewhat more male, new, income-inequality (read, perhaps, #occupy) voters brought in by the Sanders campaign that gave him his win in New Hampshire.
When asked “who shares your values” 11% thought only Clinton, 33% thought only Sanders, and 51% thought both of them. This conforms to what I’ve seen as a Sanders-supporter vs. Clinton-supporter difference the vilification/deification ratio. Importantly, though, a slim majority of voters feel that either candidate shares their values.
Both candidates are seen as good for handling health care, in the majority. The ability to handle the economy is a bit more ambiguous, with a starker split between “My candidate only” and “Either.” With respect to handling income inequality, Sanders was seen as the strong candidate by a plurality of voters.
When asked if the next president should continue Obama’s policies, 82% said yes, or be more liberal. Among those who chose more liberal, more were Sanders supporters.
For “cares about people like me” and “is honest and trustworthy” Sanders rolled over clinton by a landslide. For “has the right experience” Clinton trounced Sanders.
Everybody wants to tax the rich, more so among Sanders supporters.
Among those who think general election electability is the most important quality to use in choosing a candidate, 70% broke for Clinton, 19% for Sanders. In a way, one could argue that Clinton is the more electable candidate, but only if she doesn’t win the nomination. That may be the most important message given us by New Hampshire. Thanks, New Hampshire!
The answer: One Republican and One Democrat/Independent.
The Iowa Caucus is pretty much up for grabs in both parties. Over recent days, a clear Trump lead has been erased, and Cruz is now ahead in recent polls. Over roughly the same period, a clear Clinton lead has been erased, and Sanders is now ahead in recent polls.
FiveThirtyEight (Nate Silver) is still predicting a Clinton victory for the Dems, but a Cruz victory for the GOPs. The Clinton victory prediction is of high confidence, while the Cruz prediction is not, and Trump is close behind.
One way to look at the polls is to track changes and put a lot of faith in the most recent information. Another way is to use as much data as seems relevant (even looking outside polls) and assume that this gives a better prediction, and go with that. The latter is the method used by FiveThirtyEight. So, Nate Silver’s method will be a big winner if Clinton and Cruze cinch the Caucus, but not so much if Sanders sandbags Hillary and Trump trumps Cruz.
People put a lot of significance on the Iowa Caucus because it is the first real contest among candidates. But then, after the caucus has become history, they are less likely to care too much about it. How important is it as a predictor of the outcome of the entire primary season?
That depends on the party.
Barack Obama, John Kerry, Al Gore, Bill Clinton, Walter Mondale, Jimmy Carter and George McGovern all won the Iowa caucus (or came in above the other candidates) and went on to be the Democratic Party nominee. Dick Gephardt and Tom Harkin also won the caucus, but did not become the nominee. One might say that the Iowa Caucus predicts the nominee pretty well for Democrats.
Gerald Ford, Bob Dole, and George W. Bush all beat the other contenders and went on to get the nomination. But most of the time, the Iowa Caucus was either won by an unopposed Republican (so we can’t count those years in assessing its significance) or was won by a candidate other than the eventual nominee (such as Rick Santorum in 2012, Mike Huckabee in 2008, and Bob Dole in 1988). Overall, the Iowa Caucus means little in the Republican Party, if we go on history, especially in recent years.
Despite FiveThirtyEight’s claims, based on a good analysis of hefty data, I’m going to say that there has been too much flux in the polling numbers to call the caucus at this stage, just over a week prior.
In the US, political parties have what is called a “platform” which is a list of assertions … “we want this” and “we want that” sort of assertions. The “platform” is made up, quaintly, of “planks” with each plank being about one issue. Like for my local Democratic Farm Labor party unit, one of our Planks is to get the damn road fixed over at Devil’s Triangle, a particularly bad intersection down on Route 169. That’s a local plank, but if we go to a party event, and a gubernatorial candidate is answering questions, she or he is expected to know what the heck is being talked about if someone brings up “Devil’s Triangle.”
The Democratic Party represents true diversity and has elements in it that are as conservative as any Republican on some issues, as well as libertarians and even quasi-anarchists who are willing to bite the bullet and “show up” to have some kind of influence. The Republican Party, in contrast, strictly polices itself and drives anyone with differing opinions into the swamp. A “differing opinion” is one not endorsed by Rush Limbaugh.
Read more at qm.