Tuesday, October 19, 2010

14 Days to Go

Fourteen days to go to election day. Where are we? Some quick random thoughts.

Horner, Star Tribune, and the Governor’s Race
Did Horner get a boost from Star Tribune and other newspaper endorsements? Not really.
There are several reasons for this. First, at least with the Star Tribune, everyone knew they were going to endorse him ever since the non-endorsement endorsement a few weeks ago. Thus, the impact of this new endorsement was muted. Second, readership of papers is down and their impact is less, especially in a multi-media environment. Third, swing voters, those who have not made up their minds, probably will not pay much attention to the endorsement. Liberals will not change their mind by the endorsement and the same is true of conservatives (DFL and GOP). Finally, the endorsement still does not overcome the spoiler issue. As I argued before, third party candidates such as Horner suffer from the “A Vote for Nader is for vote for my worst fear.” Horner still needs to show he can win and to do that he needs to show that one of the other two main candidates, most likely Emmer, cannot win. The endorsement failed to do that.

The biggest winner here of the Star Tribune endorsement is Dayton? Why? Polls already suggest that Dayton has a majority of the moderate or swing voters with Emmer capturing very few of them. Horner needs to pick them up to win (plus peel off partisans). Maybe the collective endorsements of all the papers pull some moderates from Dayton, but I think the real danger is that it pulls what few moderates are voting for Emmer away from him and to Horner. It may also pull more of the moderate GOP away from Emmer. Phrased differently, the endorsements do more to fragment the anti-Dayton vote.

As I see it now? Dayton still has a slight lead of about 5 points. However his base is less passionate about voting. His task is to motivate the base and swings to support him. Thus, Obama might make sense. Dayton has also shifted from talking taxes to jobs and education which plays well with swings and moderates.

Emmer has a smaller base and is behind. He has few swing or moderate voter support. His base is motivated to vote. He needs to deliver them (thus why Gingrich and Romney make sense) but he also needs to bring more moderates to his side. Bringing partisans such as Romney do little for that and thus the reason for new commercials seeking to moderate an image. It may be too late.

Finally, Horner needs to project the winner image and show another candidate cannot win. Paper endorsements and trotting out support from individuals such as Michael Ciresi help, but I do not know if they will be enough. Unfortunate for Horner is that we live in a poll-driven world. Unless he shows real growth or gain in the next poll numbers he may not get the momentum shift he needs for election day. Standing on your record or platform may not be enough to establish win-ability.

Bachmann and Clark: Shocked about Hypocrisy!
News has surfaced that Bachmann requested surplus money while denouncing it? News? Hardly. If hypocrisy were grounds to exclude people from public office the halls of Congress would be empty. No one should be shocked by Bachmann’s position, the voters of the district know her and her views. This is a $20 million race that Democrats could never win and which long ago ceased to be about issues. It is an ugly expense race where truth seems unimportant to who wins.

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