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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

2012: The Perfect DFL Storm

Posted: 11/08/12 11:27, Edited: 04/24/13 15:28

by Dave Mindeman

How did the DFL manage such a lopsided win in Minnesota?

DFL Chair Ken Martin has to be given some credit. He and I have had our differences but his handling of the 2012 election was nearly flawless.

One of the reasons that DFL turnout was so high is that the Party fully embraced the NO vote campaigns on the amendments. It was a bit of a gamble, but it gave younger voters an additional reason to go to the polls. And when the tide turned heavily against the amendments, the DFL reaped some of the benefit, especially in close races. Some of the Vote NO organizational skills had to rub off on the Party... and there was a ready made cadre of volunteers willing to work on multiple projects.

And this time around the DFL had the money advantage. Although the GOP legislative caucuses were competitive, the GOP Party itself was forced to be absent because of their own monetary problems. Outside groups tried to make up the difference especially from the business sector, but the message was fuzzy because the Democrats were not in power and the legislative results were linked to the GOP. The negative flyers tried to link Democratic candidates to things that happened years ago...which may have worked on low information voters, but I doubt it helped with the general electorate.

All of the GOP strategies came up empty. Putting the amendments on the ballot, which Brodkorb admitted was a base turnout tool, ended up backfiring...turning out the wrong base. The school shift was used by the DFL relentlessly; and the GOP bill that attempted to move some of the surplus to the shift (Garofalo's big idea) lost its effect after being vetoed by the Governor. The school shift was real, the surplus fix was not.

The DFL had a number of superior candidates as well. Former legislators that were defeated a few years ago came back to a friendlier environment. Late GOP retirements happened in areas without a deep bench.

GOP threats to labor, mobilized that segment of the DFL base to a higher degree. The GLBT community was highly motivated. The environmental lobby was tired of not getting any kind of hearing at the GOP table and they went on a mission. Nearly all aspects of the DFL coalition were in sync for this election cycle....and it showed.

Klobuchar and Obama had some coattails, although I'm not sure that was as big a factor as the coattails of the amendment vote.

I think everyone was surprised by the late wave effect of the down ballot races, but there certainly were a number of factors leading in that direction that were not clearly evident during the campaign.

2012 was the perfect anti-GOP storm and I'm not talking about Sandy.
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