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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

2016 Election Analysis - Part 2: Enough Of The Hand Wringing

Category: Congressional Races
Posted: 12/06/16 16:59

by Dave Mindeman

Democrats are hand wringers. It's just a fact. They nit pick and squabble in the primaries. Get uppity about platform minutia - and then start the blame game when the Party loses the election.

With Obama as President, the Democrats still had a vital say in policy for the country. But, the fact is, we have been on a losing streak where it really counts....in the states and in the legislatures.

Republicans have manipulated how we vote, who gets to vote, and in drawing the lines for voting districts. It has been systematic. And it has been effective.

Democrats always seem to be under the false impression that policy and issues are what drives elections. They are only about 30% right in that regard.

While Democrats obsess about climate change, and income equality, and foreign wars....Republicans work the district lines, voter suppression, and purging the voter rolls.

And it works. Clinton is winning the popular vote by over 2.7 million votes, but lost the electoral college because of 1% losses in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. WI and MI have Republican governors and legislatures. PA has GOP Senate and House.

Votes for Democratic Congressional candidates exceeded votes for GOP candidates, yet the Republicans have a big majority in Congress.

And the Senate is still held narrowly by the Republicans.

But the clear problem with Democratic strategy is the continued losses in the state houses. This is where the Congressional lines are drawn - this is where the legislation that most affects people's lives happens.

Hand wringing and assigning blame may be cathartic in a personal way, but it is useless when it comes to solving our problem.

Democrats have concentrated on urban populations and they have been effective in persuading urban dwellers that the Democratic Party is their party. But in rural America, the Democrats have failed. Not in policy...but in getting out a message regarding what the Democrats have done for them. Republicans have not done anything, policywise, to improve the lot of rural America. In many ways, they have fostered the policies that have obstructed their progress. Net neutrality, broadband, agricultural trade, and transportation policies of the GOP are working against rural development.

Democrats have spent so much time on voter ID, technology, and polling, that they have lost the basic elements of any campaign....

Message, narrative, and responsiveness.

Democrats need to focus their future endeavors on building the party from the ground up again. Local races matter. Legislative majorities matter. Governors matter.

Enough of the hand wringing. Enough of the blame.

Fix what matters and begin again.

In the 8th District: Even If You Vote Trump - Nolan's Your Guy

Category: Congressional Races
Posted: 10/24/16 00:34

by Dave Mindeman

The KSTP poll for the 8th District has Stewart Mills III in the lead 45-41. And with Trump up double digits over Clinton in that area.

The 8th District has had plenty of rumblings about the Democrats. And apparently they would like to see Trump tearing up those trade deals.

But be careful what you wish for.

Let's take Trump first. There is no indication that Trump has any real understanding of trade policy. I contend that he thinks a trade deficit with another country is a monetized deficit. He thinks that a $500 billion trade deficit with China means they got that much money from us. I believe that is what he really thinks. I think that is his premise for Mexico "paying for the wall" - he's going to fix the trade deficit with Mexico and get all that "money" back. Do you really want this guy in charge of trade policy?

And although the 8th District is upset about cheap Chinese steel imports (and by the way, Trump used Chinese steel for his casinos)....there is the flip side of this, in that the 8th District does need a healthy export economy. That means we need to get some kind of trade mechanism in place and Democrats have promised to protect labor in those negotiations.

And really, do you honestly think Trump really cares about your jobs up there? He wants to go back to raping the land for minerals, and coal, and oil. Unrestricted without regulations. What would that do to the 8th District tourism industry?

And then there is Mills. Stewart is thinking he can ride that Trump train into Congress, but can you trust him as well? Mills says that he is now against the TPP and wants "fair" trade instead of free trade. This has required a full reversal on his past trade thoughts. After all, his company, Fleet Farm, needs an unencumbered ability to export. And in the past , he has embraced the establishment Republican "free trade" orthodoxy. Do you really trust him to not go back to his old ways once he establishes himself with Paul Ryan and the rest?

It is one thing to compare Trump to Clinton on trade. It is another, when comparing Mills to Rick Nolan. Nolan has established his negative view on the TPP - and he has a record of opposing deals that do not protect American workers. He is already in line with 8th District views on mining and environment. In this political climate, do you really want to be represented by a neophyte and give away a proven track record?

In the real potential event of a Clinton presidency, even Trump supporters should think twice about firing Rick Nolan. You know where he stands. You know that if President Clinton begins to waver on trade that Nolan will have the ear of the President. And you also have in Nolan, a person recognized as one the THE most effective members of Congress.

In the 8th, even if you prefer Trump - Nolan's your guy.

The State Of The MN Congressional Races

Category: Congressional Races
Posted: 10/18/16 22:55

by Dave Mindeman

The Minnesota Congressional races have settled into some patterns of late. The 7th District has been quiet and Collin Peterson looks safe. The same can be said for Tim Walz in the 1st. Ellison in the 5th and McCollum in the 4th have been coasting in Democratic strongholds. And Emmer seems to be safe in the 6th.

The 2nd, the 3rd, and the 8th have all the action this time around.

In a recent poll in the Second Congressional District, Democrat Angie Craig is holding a 5 point lead over Jason Lewis. While that is not an insurmountable lead, Lewis has some structural problems to overcome. He doesn't have a lot of cash on hand and is totally dependent on outside groups to carry the ads. He also has been effectively labeled as the "mini" Trump and continues to defend against a host of past controversial statements. And as the Trump campaign implodes nationally, he will get little help from the Presidential ticket. Lewis' gender gap mirrors the Donald Trump national one and that is going to be a drag in a district where the same poll gives Hillary Clinton a double digit margin.

Angie Craig is running a solid methodical campaign and has plenty of cash on hand - an unusual situation for a Democrat in this district. She hasn't blanketed the district with name recognition ads, but seems to have chosen a strategy to build a solid ground game and save ad money for a late surge. That strategy is working well, because the GOP ground operation doesn't seem to match the Democrats and Lewis can offer little support from his own campaign.

That 5 point margin looks bigger in reality.

The 3rd District had some polling done as well and it shows that Erik Paulsen has a "commanding" (as Tom Hauser put it) 11 point lead over Terri Bonoff. While that is a solid showing, Erik Paulsen has a few structural weaknesses of his own. Hillary Clinton is running ahead of Trump in the District by double digits as well. That means Paulsen is counting on a lot of ticket splitting. And while he still has a distinct cash on hand advantage, Terri Bonoff is a much better funded candidate than he has faced in his entire tenure in the House. His lack of clarity on Trump has also hurt him. No matter which way he sides, he will anger one side or the other of his supporters.

Now Paulsen would normally be in a pretty safe position...in a normal election year. But he is still under 50% and he is just the type of candidate who could be taken down in a wave election. It doesn't quite look like that at the moment, but there are 3 weeks to go and Donald Trump is still talking.

The 8th seems to be the favorite choice of the money changers. Both candidates are being heavily outspent by the Congressional committees and PAC groups. Democrat Rick Nolan has the advantage of incumbency and a Presidential turnout. Strangely enough, GOP candidate Stewart Mills has Trump as a kind of asset. He is popular in the rural range, but Mills can't get too close, because Trump is not popular in urban Duluth.

Nolan should have the advantage and I would rather be in his position right now than Mills. But that Trump factor in the 8th is a hard one to figure out.

When the dust settles, it looks like a 6-2 Democrat majority in the Districts....with Angie Craig joining the delegation. But 7-1 can't be ruled out - not yet.
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