Author Archives: Jim Ellis

In Minnesota: Klobuchar Strong, Pawlenty Faltering

Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-MN)

Public Policy Polling continues their early 2012 election cycle polling with two surveys of Minnesota voters. Their conclusions are that first-term Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D) is in strong position for re-election; Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN-6) fares best within the state Republican voting base; and outgoing Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) is not as robust among his own party faithful as one might expect, but does lead the presidential pack of candidates even though 3/4 of the likely primary voters prefer another contender.

According to the PPP December 4-5 data (949 registered MN voters), Sen. Klobuchar has majority support against all potential 2012 opponents. Pawlenty fares best against her, but trails 43-53%. Klobuchar has a 14-point lead over former Sen. Norm Coleman, 54-40%; a 17-point advantage when paired against Rep. Bachmann, 56-39%; an 18-point edge over the recently defeated gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer; and enjoys a 52-34% spread over Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-MN-3). In the early going, it looks like Sen. Klobuchar will not be among the most seriously challenged Democratic incumbents in the next cycle.

PPP’s secondary poll surveyed the Republican electorate. Their small-sample poll (387 MN Republican primary voters, released December 13th) produced some interesting patterns. In testing all potential statewide candidates against Klobuchar, Rep. Bachmann easily does the best, claiming the support of 36% of those questioned. Pawlenty was second, but lagged back at 20%. Coleman followed with only 14%. Newly elected 8th district Rep. Chip Cravaack, who has yet to even take office in the House, actually scored a respectable 7%.

None of those candidates tested, however, have expressed any interest in running for the Senate. Still, if these individuals score as poorly as they do against Klobuchar, then it’s unlikely the GOP will be able to recruit another candidate who would begin in better position.

Though the Minnesota Republican survey is a small-sample poll, it does give us some clear points of reference. First, Bachmann, with her strength among Minnesota conservatives, is a viable contender to win a Minnesota GOP nomination. Second, Gov. Pawlenty, though a winner of two statewide general elections, should be doing better among Minnesota Republicans. If his support here is this weak, then a Pawlenty for President campaign will have to quickly gain strength and momentum, particularly in nearby Iowa, if he is going to be a factor in the national election.

Pew: Public Strongly Favors Tax Bill

Though President Obama is fending off strong political attacks from his own base in the liberal wing of the Democratic Party, a new Pew Research Center for the People & Press poll suggests that rank-and-file Democrats strongly support the measure. In fact, their support for the bill is not unlike those who identify themselves as Republicans or Independents.

According to their national survey conducted of 1,011 adults across America over the period of December 9-12, approval of the tax bill compromise receives a 60% approval rating versus just 22% who disapprove. The most notable point coming from the poll is just how consistent the approval mark is across the political party spectrum. Democrats approve of the bill by a 63-25% margin; Republicans favor it by a 62-21% count; and Independents register their support at 60-21%.

However, the most surprising Pew number comes from the self-described liberals. Among the people comprising this cell group, 65% support the Obama-Republican tax package and only 20% oppose the bill. That’s an even better ratio than among conservatives who report a 64-22% support level for the measure.

Indiana Gov. Bayh Won’t Go

Outgoing Senator and former Gov. Evan Bayh (D-IN) announced that he will not run for his old job when it comes open in 2012 because of family considerations. Bayh bid the Senate farewell right before the candidate filing deadline early this year, expressing discontent with the Senate and Congress in general. Until this weekend, however, he had not ruled out again running for Governor. Bayh served as Indiana’s chief executive from 1991-1999 before winning the Senate seat. Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels is ineligible to seek re-election in 2012, as he is midway through his second consecutive term in office.

When the senator announced his retirement, he had more than $13 million in his campaign account. He only contributed about $1 million of that back to the Democratic Party to assist in the failed attempt at electing his would-be successor, Rep. Brad Ellsworth (D-IN-8). Former Sen. Dan Coats (R) easily converted the open seat back to the Republican column, winning a 55-40% landslide victory. Deducting other expenses, Bayh still controls $10.2 million in campaign monies.

There also has been speculation that he might take a shot at the White House, with some going so far as to suggest that challenging President Obama in the Democratic primaries next year was a possibility for Mr. Bayh. Though the president is under fire from the left wing of his political base, Bayh is unlikely to be the favorite of those who think Obama has abandoned his liberal principles.

Throughout his career as governor and senator, Bayh consciously positioned himself closer to the center of the Democratic conference. Thus, he has a narrow path from which to run for President in 2012. The political set-up and timing is simply not right for him at this point in time, so few expect him to run. After Mr. Obama leaves office in 2016, assuming he’s re-elected, the political climate will probably look much different, which might create a better opportunity for a Bayh presidential effort.

In other presidential news from the weekend, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he will not be a candidate for national office next year. His “no way, no how” response when asked if he was moving toward running appears to shut the door on any Bloomberg for President effort.

Poll Confirms Michigan Senate Race as Competitive

Public Policy Polling, a very active national survey research firm throughout the final weeks of 2010, is reporting the results of their just-completed Michigan senate poll. The study, conducted over the Dec. 3-6 period with 1,224 registered Michigan voters via automated telephone calls, shows that two-term incumbent Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D) would be vulnerable to a Republican challenger if the 2012 election were held today.

The person faring best against Sen. Stabenow, outgoing 2nd district Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-MI-2), pulls into a virtual dead heat when the two are pitted against each other in a hypothetical ballot test. According to the large sample results, Stabenow would lead Hoekstra 45-44%. The congressman gave up his seat to run for governor in 2010, but lost the early August Republican primary to Governor-elect Rick Snyder.

Stabenow, who registers the same relative level of support against virtually all Republican potential candidates, is therefore solidly placed in the “vulnerable” category. When paired with Rep. Candice Miller (R-MI-10), a former two-term Secretary of State, the senator clings to only a 43-41% advantage. She leads soon-to-be-ex Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land by a similar 45-41% count. Only against former Gov. John Engler (R), currently the president and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers, does Stabenow have some breathing room. Against Engler she leads 49-42%.

No Republican has officially announced for the seat, but polls such as this will quickly increase speculation as to whom may do so. Republicans need a net gain of four seats to wrest the Senate majority away from Democrats, and must protect only 10 states versus the Democrats’ 23 in the 2012 election. Michigan will factor prominently into the GOP’s offensive national strategy and is certainly in the top tier of potential conversion opportunities, particularly when considering the GOP’s strong 2010 vote performance.

For more detailed insights, to sign up for my daily email updates, or to sign up to track specific issues or industries, please contact me at PRIsm@performanceandresults.com.

The 2010 Elections are Finally Final

The last two undecided campaigns are now officially over. Republicans Tom Emmer in the Minnesota Governor’s race and Randy Altschuler in the NY-1 congressional contest have ended their post-election ballot counting efforts and conceded to their Democratic opponents. Former Sen. Mark Dayton will now become the 40th governor of Minnesota and Rep. Tim Bishop has successfully won a fifth term in the House. Emmer trailed the statewide Minnesota race by 8,770 votes when the recount began. Once the challenge counting pushed Dayton’s advantage to over 9,000 votes, Emmer saw that the trend would not be reversed. In NY-1, it appears Bishop’s margin of victory will be in the area of 263 votes, making it the closest election in the country.

Nationally, the final electoral results are now complete. In gubernatorial races, Republicans won 23 contests in the November election compared to 13 for the Democrats. Independent Lincoln Chafee won the Rhode Island Governor’s campaign. Overall, Republicans control 29 Governors’ mansions and the Democrats are in 20, with the one Independent. In the House, the GOP officially gains 63 seats, meaning the new body will feature 242 Republicans and 193 Democrats. Republicans won 24 Senate races versus the Democrats’ 13, meaning a net gain of six seats for the minority party and a new 53D-47R split.