MN, NM, and TN: Population by CD

Today and yesterday’s Census data dump is of three states that didn’t gain or lose seats but will need some internal adjustment to reflect population movement from the cities and the rural areas to the suburbs: Minnesota, New Mexico, and Tennessee. (It also included three states with at-large seats that we won’t need to discuss: Alaska, Montana, and North Dakota.)

Minnesota barely made the cut for retaining its eighth seat (13,000 fewer people statewide and it would have lost it), which you can see in its very low new target: 662,991 per district. (That’s up from about 615K in 2000.) Despite the fact that Michele Bachmann lives there, people keep pouring into MN-06 in the outer-ring suburbs and exurbs to the north, west, and east of the Twin Cities. Only it and MN-02, taking in the southern suburbs/exurbs, will need to shed population, giving part to the rural 1st and 7th, and part to the urban 4th and 5th (and suburban-but-boxed-in 3rd). With split redistricting control, look for the parties, if they’re able to agree, to settle on incumbent protection.

Talk of moving the college town of St. Cloud, currently in MN-06, into MN-08 (which would enable Tarryl Clark to run there) may be premature, as MN-08 gained enough population that it can remain about the same. In fact, the fact that it did so may say a lot about last year’s election; the 8th’s growth has been happening at its southern end, where the MSP exurbs begin and where new Rep. Chip Cravaack hails from, and the population growth in this area has outpaced losses in the dark-blue Iron Range to the north, Jim Oberstar’s traditional turf.

District Rep. Population Deviation
MN-01 Walz (D) 644,787 (18,204)
MN-02 Kline (R) 732,515 69,524
MN-03 Paulsen (R) 650,185 (12,806)
MN-04 McCollum (D) 614,624 (48,367)
MN-05 Ellison (D) 616,482 (46,509)
MN-06 Bachmann (R) 759,478 96,487
MN-07 Peterson (D) 625,512 (37,479)
MN-08 Cravaack (R) 660,342 (2,649)
Total: 5,303,925

New Mexico’s target is 686,393, based on staying at three seats (up from 606K in 2000). Not much change needs to happen between the districts; the largely rural NM-02 will need to gain some population, probably from the southern suburbs of Albuquerque in NM-01. New Mexico has become appreciably more Hispanic over the last decade, though maybe not as dramatically as the other three border states (California, Arizona, and Texas), moving as a state from 45% non-Hispanic white and 42% Hispanic in 2000 to 40% non-Hispanic white and 46% Hispanic in 2010. That means that, since 2000, it has become the first state with a Hispanic plurality. The movement was fairly consistent among districts, with the 1st going from 42% to 48% Hispanic, the 2nd going from 47% to 52% Hispanic, and the 3rd going from 36% to 39% Hispanic (the 3rd, though, is the least-white of the three districts, thanks to an 18% Native American population, which stayed consistent over the decade).

District Rep. Population Deviation
NM-01 Heinrich (D) 701,939 15,546
NM-02 Pearce (R) 663,956 (22,437)
NM-03 Lujan (D) 693,284 6,891
Total: 2,059,179

Tennessee stays comfortably at nine seats, and its new target is 705,122 (up from 632K in 2000). It, like Minnesota, has seen a big population shift from cities and rural areas to suburbs and exurbs, as seen in the huge growth in the 6th (which half-circles Nashville on the east) and the 7th (a thin gerrymander that hooks up Nashville’s southern suburbs with Memphis’s eastern suburbs). In particular, western Tennessee, both in the city (TN-09) and the rural areas (TN-08) were hard-hit, with the 8th barely gaining and the 9th outright losing population. The GOP controls the redistricting process for the first time here, but with them up 7-2 in the current House delegation (and with Memphis unfixably blue), look for them to lock in current gains rather than getting aggressive with TN-05 (seeing as how Nashville could be cracked into multiple light-red urban/suburban districts, although that has ‘dummymander’ written all over it).  

District Rep. Population Deviation
TN-01 Roe (R) 684,093 (21,029)
TN-02 Duncan (R) 723,798 18,676
TN-03 Fleischmann (R) 692,346 (12,776)
TN-04 Des Jarlais (R) 688,008 (17,114)
TN-05 Cooper (D) 707,420 2,298
TN-06 Black (R) 788,754 83,632
TN-07 Blackburn (R) 792,605 87,483
TN-08 Fincher (R) 658,258 (46,864)
TN-09 Cohen (D) 610,823 (94,299)
Total: 6,346,105

Redistricting outlook: Mass.-Minn.

Now that it’s 2011, the redistricting games will soon begin in earnest, with more detailed Census data expected in the coming weeks and some states holding spring legislative sessions to deal with drawing new maps. Long ago I planned to do state-by-state rundowns of the redistricting process as soon as 2010 election results and Census reapportionment were clear. Now that time has arrived, and it’s time to look at Massachusetts, Michigan, and Minnesota.

Previous diary on Alabama, Arizona, and Arkansas

Previous diary on California, Colorado, and Connecticut

Previous diary on Florida, Georgia, and Hawaii

Previous diary on Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, and Iowa

Previous diary on Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, and Maryland

The rest below the fold…



Districts: 9 (down from 10 in 2002)

Who’s in charge? Democrats

Is that important? Not from a partisan perspective, no

For a state with an all-Democratic delegation being remapped by Democratic lawmakers, there’s been a surprising amount of drama in the Bay State over whose district will be cut. It was hoped that an older member would announce his retirement, allowing a clean elimination without any messy incumbent vs. incumbent primaries. But Financial Services Committee ranking member Barney Frank, long speculated to be the next retiree, announced he will run again, and so far no member of the congressional delegation appears ready to challenge Sen. Scott Brown, though Mike Capuano’s name is still in the running. Should he go for it, his Boston seat will simply be split up between Frank and Stephen Lynch. In any case, all nine districts should remain strongly Democratic-leaning.



Districts: 14 (down from 15 in 2002)

Who’s in charge? Republicans

Is that important? Yes

As was the case ten years ago, Republicans will draw the lines in Michigan, but unlike then, they really have no room to make gains, only to eliminate one more Democratic incumbent. In most estimations, that incumbent will be two-termer Gary Peters, the only Democrat (other than Hansen Clarke, whose district is VRA-protected) in the state’s delegation elected after 1982. A likely scenario is that his Oakland County swing district will be combined with Sander Levin’s heavily Democratic Macomb County territory in a safe blue seat. Levin’s liberal record and thirty years of seniority should make him a prohibitive favorite over Peters in the Democratic primary, but I suppose at 81 he will be prime congressional retirement age. Other than that, the GOP cannot afford to get too cute with boundaries — they already hold several marginal seats (the 1st, 7th, and 11th come to mind).



Districts: 8

Who’s in charge? Split (Dem Governor, GOP Legislature)

Is that important? Surely

Democrats are counting their lucky stars that Mark Dayton won the gubernatorial race, as the GOP has long aimed to combine Minneapolis and St. Paul into one heavily Democratic seat and now will presumably not have that opportunity. Ten years ago, a three-way deadlock between Independent Gov. Jesse Ventura, a Democratic Senate, and a Republican House forced the courts to step in, but many hope for compromise this time around. Since the state’s high Census participation rate saved it from losing a seat, status quo will probably win the day, with safer seats for Tim Walz, Chip Cravaack, and perhaps Collin Peterson. Ironically, Minnesota just held on to its eighth seat at the expense of fast-growing but lower-participating North Carolina, which was the controversial winner over Utah for the last seat allocated in the 2000 Census.

Minnesota Redistricting Part 1

Well, seeing as how I just finished a short research paper on Minnesota congressional districts for one of my classes, I thought it would be a good idea to give the diary thing a try before I get too busy with finals. This is the first in a series of Minnesota maps, some possible and others, unfortunately not. The first map is below:

My goal with this map was to predict the outcome of the redistricting process given the current situation – Republican legislature and Democratic governor. I assumed that Minnesota will keep its eigth seat becasue new estimates suggest that will happen and Minnesota had a very high census response rate. I may have been too optimistic by drawing Craavack out of the 8th (God I hope that happens) but if that were to happen to anyone, it would be him since he has the least seniority and influence. Close ups of the districts are below. In some of the close ups, green represents new additions to the district and purple/pink represents areas that were lost.

First District – Blue – Walz (DFL)

Likely DFL

The 1st remains largely unchanged, picking up Sibley county (53-30 Emmer, 58-39 McCain) and small pieces of Le Sueur, McLeod, Goodhue for population balance. This new district voted 40-46-13 Dayton/Emmer/Horner but reelected Tim Walz. Obama would likely have one this district in 2008 as well since very little has changed.

Second District – Green – Kline (R)

Safe R

Not much happens to Rep. Kline’s southern suburbs district either. It pulls out of Washington and Carver counties to make way for the urban districts to expand. It takes West St. Paul back from the fourth to preserve county lines and gives up a few precints on the southern edge for population balance. Emmer won this district 38-49-19 as well as McCain. The new Chariman of the Education and Labor Committee won’t have a problem holding this.

Third District – Purple – Paulsen (R)

Likely R

Hennepin County has lost some population and so Paulsen’s district has to expand outward. It picks of Carver County and a small part of Anoka County that used to be in the fifth district. This district currently has a PVI of D+0 but the expansion into Carver County (57-42 McCain, 28-58-13 Emmer) it becomes more Republican. This may be winnable for a moderate Democrat in a good year but otherwise, Paulsen should be safe.

Fourth District – Red – McCullom (DFL)

Safe DFL

This district gives its part of Dakota County back to the second district and picks up the southern half of Washington County. I wanted to add all of Washington so that Bachmann’s home would be here but that isn’t realistic to expect the Republican legislature to agree to that. It may happen if the courts draw the lines and only pay attention to population but that is unlikely. This district is currently D+13. It may have dropped slightly in this map with the addition of part of Washington County but not significantly.

Fifth District (College) – Yellow – Ellison (DFL)

Safe DFL

There isn’t much to see here. The fifth district gives up the little piece of Anoka County (Fridley and Columbia Heigths) and picks up a slightly bigger piece (population wise atleast) in the southwest inner suburbs (Edina). This district is currently D+23 and probably would stay that way.

Sixth District – Teal – Bachmann (R)

Likely R with Bachmann, Safe R with anyone else

Bachmann’s district undergoes the biggest changes. The sixth district trades Sherburne and part of Stearns (St. Cloud, home of Tarryl Clark)for Isanti and Chisago (Chip Cravaack’s home). It also picks up Meeker County and small parts of Anoka, Washington, and McLeod while giving up part of Washington to McCullom. With the loss of St. Cloud and the addition of Meeker, this district becomes more Republican. Since Bachmann is so crazy, this may be likely R with a great DFL candidate and a good year. This would definitely be safe with any other Republican. Cravaack also lives in this district but would Bachmann would easily defeat him at the district convention or primary.

Seventh District – Grey – Peterson (DFL)

Safe DFL with Peterson, Lean R when open

This district is mostly the same with just few changes in central Minnesota. It picks up the rest of Beltrami as well as all of Hubbard, Cass, and Wadena from the eigth district. It loses Meeker, Sibley, and part of McLeod to balance out the population. This mostly rural district voted for McCain 47-50 and likely voted for Emmer over Dayton. This is Safe DFL with Peterson running but would probably be lean R at best when he decides to retire.

Eigth District (Home) – Slate Blue – Cravaack (R)

Lean DFL

A few weeks before the election, I confidently declared that Jim Oberstar would not lose. Unfortunately, I was wrong but now Rep.-elect Chip Cravaack is high on the target list for 2012. His new district trades Chisago and Isanti for part of Stearns (St. Cloud) and Sherburne. Cravaack no longer lives in this district but could easily move 20 miles up I-35 if he wanted to. Drawing Cravaack may not be possible with the Republican legislature but, since he has no seniority and very little influence, pretty much everyone has little incentive to listen to him. With Cravaack as the incumbent, this district is Lean DFL and woud be Likely DFL if the incumbency effect was not in place.

Overall, this map produces a 5DFL-3R split that would hold up in all but the worst years (like 2010). Once Peterson retires, it would become 4DFL-4R unless the DFL could find a moderate/populist to run.

Any suggestions and comments are welcome. this is my first complete map and diary so any insight would be greatly appreciated especially since I’m young don’t know a lot about the history of politics in Minnesota and how that might affect the results using this map or any historic district boundaries. Any information on that would be helpful too. Thanks!

Optimistic Take On Minnesota’s Political Future

Shocking as it may be to see an expression of optimism from me, I’m gonna do exactly that regarding Minnesota’s political future for Democrats.  Particularly now, less than a week after the DFL supermajorities were transformed into Republican majorities in the state legislature, this may seem counterintuitive, but having crunched the numbers over the past five days, I feel as though the condition of the state’s politics is less troublesome that it may look from an outsider’s perspective.

Bad news first.  The DFL got vaporized in the legislative races.  This is effectively the fourth wave election out of five with the current legislative district lines and to an extent, should have been predicted.  Back in 2002, after months of feuding over redistricting between the DFL Senate, the Republican House, and the Independence Party Governor, the stalemate was broken when the process was handed over to a nonpartisan panel of judges.  They drew up a genuinely competitive map that proved to be very volatile to the political mood of the time.  In 2002, shortly after the Wellstone memorial debacle, the GOP scored a supermajority in the House and came within two seats of taking over the Senate.  In 2004, in a generally neutral political climate, Democrats shocked everybody and gained 13 seats, one short of a majority.  In 2006, a Democratic tsunami hit Minnesota and they ended up with massive and unsustainable gains deep into red territory.  With just the House up in 2008 and the wind still at the their back, Democrats gained a few more seats.  

We were overdue for a correction in 2010, but it was largely than even I suspected.  Looking at the breakdown of legislative races, however, it really shouldn’t have been that big of a surprise.  With the current district lines, the vast majority of terrain in rural and suburban Minnesota consists of districts that fall somewhere between the range of 52-48% DFL advantage and 52-48% GOP advantage.  Just the slightest of breezes is enough to trigger dramatic change, and this year’s Republican tide was far more than just a slight breeze.  As a result, there were few surprises among the legislators that were felled, and as usually happens in wave elections, just about all the close races went to the party on the winning side of the wave.  

The unfortunate and obvious downside is that the Republicans will now commandeer redistricting.  Dayton, likely the next Governor, will veto anything too overreaching, provided Pawlenty doesn’t follow through with his “martial law” gambit while the Republicans delay a recount.  I wouldn’t be surprised if the end result is another nonpartisan judge-drawn redistricting plan, most likely resulting in another 10 years of dramatic swings from left to right and back in Minnesota’s local politics.  Sadly, however, we blew our chance to get rid of Michele Bachmann as the new legislature will never agree to a map that doesn’t keep her safe in her exurban cocoon.

So what gives me cause for optimism?  There were four statewide races in Minnesota this year and the Democrats won all of them, even with a weak-performing Mark Dayton at the top of the ticket.  Three of the four races were close, and frankly I’m surprised the DFL held onto both the Secretary of State’s office and especially the Auditor, but they stayed in the Democratic fold because population centers Hennepin and Ramsey Counties continue to harden for Democrats.  I’ve always considered second-ring Hennepin County suburbs Bloomington and Minnetonka to be Minnesota’s bellwethers.  If the DFL candidate wins them, they win the state.  All four statewide DFL candidates were victorious there in a year where conventional wisdom was they’d lean Republican.  When Democrats are winning Hennepin County by more than 15 points and Ramsey County by more than 25 points, as occurred this year in every statewide race, it’s a herculean lift for Republicans to make up that much elsewhere.

Aside from Hennepin and Ramsey Counties, two other places stand out as cause for Democratic optimism.  The first is suburban Dakota County in the southeastern metro area and the third most populous county in Minnesota.  It’s historically been a swing county, became more Republican than the statewide average last decade, but now seems to be slowly moving back to the center.  Republicans did win here in 2010, but by nowhere near the size of the margins they did back in 2002.  In the close Mondale vs. Coleman Senate race, Coleman won Dakota County by 16 points.  In a similar close race this year, Emmer was only able to win Dakota County by 9 points, which is comparable to what both Pawlenty scored in his 2006 re-election and what Coleman beat Franken by in the 2008 Senate race.  Largely due to the rising ethnic diversity in Dakota County, it now seems as if the Republican ceiling in the county is a nine-point victory, and in the other three statewide races, the Democrat won there in the Attorney General’s race, and the Republicans were victorious in the other two with four-point margins.  It’s almost impossible to win statewide in Minnesota as a Republican if you’re only winning Dakota County by four points.

Next on my list of causes for optimism is Rochester, now Minnesota’s third largest city.  It’s a city that is historically the Republican stronghold of the state but in the past 10 years, demographics have been pushing it to the left.  It’s population is exploding with young educated professionals as well as ethnic minorities, and is now pretty close to being a 50-50 town.  Now old-school GOP moderates can still do very well here, even among the newcomers, but as the Republican Party continues its deranged march to either social conservatism or economic Know-Nothingism, Rochester won’t be around for the ride, at least not with the numbers it has been historically.  Tim Pawlenty represented this decade’s high-water mark for Republicans in Olmsted County, winning the county by 17 points in 2006.  Emmer won it by 10 points.  That’s nothing to sneeze at, but in a Republican year, I would have expected Emmer to overperform Pawlenty’s numbers in a Democratic year.  Furthermore, I haven’t yet crunched the numbers exclusive to the city of Rochester, which is typically several points less Republican than Olmsted County at large.  Based on the numbers I’ve seen in Greater Olmsted County, I’m betting the city of Rochester itself was no better than a five-point win for Emmer.  And like Dakota County in the last paragraph, if a Republican is winning Rochester by only five points, an inside straight is required to come up with the votes in the rest of the state necessary to win a statewide election.

Exurbia continues to be a big problem for Democrats in Minnesota, but less of a problem than I anticipated it to be in 2002 and 2004 when it looked as though the growth in exurban Minnesota would be endless and the raw numbers of new Republicans would ultimately swamp Democrats.  Since 2004, however, the housing bubble has burst and the blistering growth rates in these Twin Cities collar counties have slowed.  And with the slowed population growth has come a stalled Republican insurgency.  Emmer is the perfect exurban candidate if there ever was one.  He’s from the heart of Michele Bachmann country out in Wright County and espouses the “we got ours…to tell with the rest of the state” ethos articulately.  Yet he didn’t overperform Pawlenty in these areas, at least not by much.  And the Republican margins in the other three statewide offices were on par with traditional voting patterns even in a strong Republican year.  Unless these counties become even more Republican and restore their growth rates from the early part of the decade, the GOP’s ability to win statewide races will be diminished.

Outstate Minnesota was pretty much split again this year, although leaning towards Republicans perhaps a little more than usual.  The 2000 election was the ugliest showing outstate Minnesota gave Democrats in my lifetime, with Bush burying Gore in counties where Democrats frequently win by double-digit margins.  Nowhere did we see Democratic candidates perform that poorly in 2010, and if Democrats are performing generally on par with recent trendlines this year, it bodes well that rural Minnesota is not gonna undergo the same rightward transformation that rural Missouri did anytime soon.

I can’t finish the diary with commenting on the state of affairs in northeastern Minnesota, one place where I maintain some pessimism.  As I feared, a perfect storm finished off Jim Oberstar.  His district has been slowly trending Republican for a generation now but has still been virtually impossible for a Republican to win even in the most perfect situation up until now.  With that said, Oberstar underperformed all four statewide DFL candidates in the 8th district, all of whom won the district.  In Dayton’s case, his victory is the direct result of overperformance in northeastern Minnesota.  With MN-08’s growth zones becoming more Republican by the day and it’s Democratic strongholds losing population, it’s not a good sign for the Democrats’ prospects in snuffing out Oberstar’s successor Chip Cravaack.  The great white hope is legislator Tony Sertich, but he’s a native Iron Ranger who will run with the baggage of the Minnesota Legislature and is a native Iron Ranger which isn’t gonna be an asset in the south side of the district.  State Senator Tony Lourey from further south in the district might be a better bet, at  least demographically.  Either way, it’s an almost certainty that the district will inherit even more Republican areas after redistricting, so it could well take a Democratic wave to install another Democrat in the Congressional seat, and his or her hold on the seat will most likely be far tenuous than was Oberstar’s.  

Generally speaking, the Democratic Party looks poised to have the upper hand in Minnesota, although by far narrower margins than in its 1970s and 1980s heyday.  But interestingly, as the state becomes less lopsided in its Democratic advantage, it’s strangely harder for a Republican to win a statewide election than it was back in the days when Dave Durenberger and Rudy Boschwitz were winning handily.  In the very long-term, if my predictions of a political realignment almost exclusively on generational and ethnic lines comes to pass, then all bets are off and majority white Minnesota could very well turn crimson red.  For the foreseeable future, however, I like my odds running as a Democrat in Minnesota much more than I would running as a Republican.

Handicapping MN-Gov

I noticed today that Nate Silver crunched the numbers for the Minnesota Governor’s race and determined that Democrat Mark Dayton had a 77% chance of victory.  Pretty generous.  With the exception of the 1994 Arne Carlson reelection landslide, Minnesota has had 20 years worth of gubernatorial elections that have had so many dramatic twists and turns that they could have been made into movies.  One actually was!  Given this record of volatility and other specifics of this contest, I think Nate’s traditional calculus needs to be thrown out.  This race is far from over, and all three candidates still have a viable path to victory.

If recent Minnesota gubernatorial elections are any indication, the great equalizer will be the late October televised debates.  Polls moved in double digits in both directions in a matter of a week based on Minnesota gubernatorial debates.  If you impress there, you’re golden.  If you fail to impress, you’re ruined.  And that’s true almost wherever your poll numbers may currently be.  The Independence Party’s articulate 2006 candidate Peter Hutchinson was not in a position to win, but he nonetheless impressed in the debates and managed to surge at Mike Hatch’s expense, handing victory to Pawlenty.  With that in mind, let’s get back to 2010.

Let’s start with the least complicated candidate, both in terms of intellect and his position in the race.  That would be Republican Tom Emmer.  He’s been rendered a kook by a solid majority of the electorate and, in a three-candidate race, has a ceiling of about 42% with a basement that could conceivably go as low as 30%.  On the plus side for him, however, is that it’s gonna be a Republican year and more low-information voters than usual are likely to pull the lever for whoever has the (R) next to his name.  I suspect this will be especially true outstate where Emmer’s hard-right social values are less likely to offend than they would in the suburbs, but whose economic values would devastate them.  Emmer’s pathway to victory comes from wedging Horner vs. Dayton and picking up the slack.  Right now, Horner is probably taking more votes away from Emmer than Dayton.  If Emmer can reverse that and pit Dayton versus Horner, which is entirely doable in a year like this, he can simultaneously lift Horner’s numbers and plummet Dayton’s, allowing Emmer to squeak by with a 35% or better plurality.

Moving onto Dayton whose position of strength is based on three things.  First, he’s held office in Minnesota going back to the 1980s and is the only candidate with statewide name recognition, especially among senior voters who tend to view him most favorably.  Second, he’s exceeding expectations with the seriousness of his gubernatorial run after his disastrous Senate tenure had initially hurt his favorable ratings.  Having watched early debates, he seems most in command of the issues, and when his numbers are proven to not add up, he quickly fixes them in a way his opponents won’t do.  And lastly, the right and center-right are divided between Horner and Emmer, meaning Dayton doesn’t need a majority or even a strong plurality to win.

With all that said, Dayton’s support is incredibly thin, as was proven when he eked out a one-point primary win in August that he was supposed to win by double-digits.  My fear is that when the spotlight’s on in the ninth inning, voters will find “the other guy” more appealing.  While Emmer’s basement of support is very unlikely to sink below 30%, Dayton’s basement could conceivably drop to Kendrick Meek levels.  If Horner is able to pick off soft Dayton voters, Dayton could easily go the way of 1998 Skip “28%” Humphrey at the hands of Jesse Ventura. Even in the best-case scenario, however, I strongly reject the premise of a 77% likelihood of victory for Dayton.  As Dan Rather would say, his lead is “shakier than cafeteria Jell-O”.  And seeing that poll earlier this week showing Jim Oberstar with a scant three-point lead in MN-08 makes Dayton’s standing seem all the more fickle given that northern Minnesota (Oberstar country) would most realistically be the place where Dayton would run up the score.  If voters up there are that cool towards Oberstar, I expect they could just as easily turn on Dayton.

Now, onto Tom Horner, whose position in this race is very complicated but nowhere near dire enough to proclaim his chances of victory at zero as Nate Silver’s calculation suggests.  Horner has a number of advantages and disadvantages in the hand he holds and only time will tell which direction the 2010 political environment will pull him.  Working to his benefit more than anything else is the endless free advertising his campaign gets from Minnesota media, particularly the left-leaning Minneapolis Star Tribune which blows kisses to Horner on a literal daily basis and never misses a chance to piss on Dayton.  In my decades of reading the Star Tribune, never have I seen them work so hard to get a candidate elected as they are for Tom Horner.  Secondly, his opponents have been successfully caricatured as an extreme liberal and an extreme conservative, given Horner a huge opening to present himself as the guy in the middle when he gets his moment in the spotlight.  Any other year, Horner would not be likely to catch on, but as a center-right candidate in a center-right year facing off against two uninspiring foes who are both seen as ideologues, he might be the right guy at the right time.

Horner has serious downsides though too.  Charismatic Jesse Ventura was able to be the third-party hero during the 1998 economic boom on a painless platform.  Tom Horner has little to none of Jesse’s charisma and, given the budgetary armageddon facing the state, has nothing to offer but pain.  And while Horner is widely praised for his comprehensive budget plan, the pain is all reserved for the same groups of people who’ve been on the receiving end of the pain after eight uninterrupted years of budget crises under Pawlenty.  It’s always the working class and middle class expected to take a haircut, and Horner has carefully crafted his plan to make sure the wealthy that have been spared from sacrifice in the past eight years aren’t required to make a proportional contribution this year either.  Furthermore, Horner’s made a lot of money as a consultant to corporate heavies in the last decade, and if he catches on, it will be pointed out by his opponents that Horner’s tax plan effectively amounts to their payola.

And there’s one more wild card in play here.  Remember the 2008 Presidential map for Minnesota?  Where about 18-20 counties in Minnesota’s northwestern, southwestern, and southeastern corners showed tremendous growth for Obama even as much of state saw little improvement from Kerry’s numbers in 2004?   The explanation behind that phenomenon was that Obama monopolized the Fargo and Grand Forks, ND, Sioux Falls, SD, and La Crosse, WI, media markets while John McCain monopolized all of the Minnesota media markets.  In statewide races in Minnesota, voters in these Dakota and Wisconsin media markets are completely blacked out from Minnesota state politics, meaning these parts of the state tend to be unfamiliar with any of the candidates and are likely to base their votes on name ID and generic party preference.  This dynamic proved to be an advantage even to Skip Humphrey in these areas in 1998, and should really benefit Dayton in 2010 given his opponents, both of whom could just as well be named Bob Smith given their limited profile to these voters.  Horner in particular has little chance at getting more than 10% in these areas of the state and represent one more obstacle he’ll need to overcome, and even though they make up a small percentage of overall voters, they could easily be the difference in a close election.

With all this in mind, who’s gonna win?  It’s almost impossible to predict where a Minnesota gubernatorial election will go until the final few days, but it’s hard to deny Dayton still has a long-term advantage.  I see Horner gaining at Dayton’s expense in the weeks ahead…and perhaps a little bit at Emmer’s expense as well.  It’s not hard to imagine Horner soaring to a load or a position of serious competitiveness, but the fact that it hasn’t happened yet makes me more skeptical than I was two months ago that it every will.  

My best guess is the county map will look similar to the 2002 and 2006 gubernatorial race county maps, but with a few important caveats.  Dayton will win solid majorities in Minneapolis and St. Paul, but with Horner in the mix, he won’t dominate there.  I suspect Horner’s best numbers will come in the second and third-ring suburbs…places like Bloomington, Minnetonka, Blaine, and Eagan that tend to be the bellwethers in modern Minnesota elections.  However, Horner is not currently poised to win by enough there to compensate for his shortcomings elsewhere.  Still, my money is on a 25% showing from Horner in the state’s five most populous counties (Hennepin, Ramsey, Dakota, Anoka, and Washington) based on his strength in the moderate suburbs.

Emmer will dominate in exurbia scoring solid majorities in counties like Sherburne, Wright, Carver, and Scott.  Horner will probably keep Emmer from winning these areas with more than 60% or even 65% as he would in a one-on-one race with Dayton, but it will clearly be the foundation of Emmer’s strength in the statewide race.  As for outstate, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a couple of the independent-friendly rural counties like Sibley, Renville, and Kanabec go for Horner, but by and large it’ll be a two-candidate race outstate with a county configuration similar to the Hatch-Pawlenty race of 2006.  Emmer will pull in a narrow plurality outstate, but not enough to make up for his deficit in the core five counties of the metro area.

So there’s my take.  Lower Mark Dayton’s advantage from Nate Silver’s 77% to about 47% and raise Tom Horner’s from 0% to 20% and I think you have the state of the Minnesota gubernatorial election.  But again, ask me again on November 1.  In Minnesota, gubernatorial politics are very seldom this simple.

CO, CT, GA & MN Primary Results Thread #3

4:19am: One last update from beyond the grave: Dan Maes wins the Republican gubernatorial nomination — joyous news for Democrats everywhere. The final margin, according to the AP, was 50.7% Maes, 49.3% McInnis.

3:17am: The SSP news team is calling it a night. Hopefully we wake up tomorrow to find Dan Maes as the GOP nominee in Colorado and Karen Handel and Nathan Deal locked in a drawn-out recount battle. (One is allowed to dream, right?)

2:48am: Deep Thought: Have Colorado’s ballot-counters been kidnapped by the UN’s armada of black helicopters? We may never know…

2:47am: We’re now at 94.2% reporting, and Dan Maes by just shy of 5200 votes. Come on, you whacko, let’s blow this thing and go home!

1:37am: With 91% reporting, Dan Maes in CO-Gov has a lead just shy of 4,000 votes. By the way, somewhere along the way, the AP finally called CO-03’s GOP primary for Scott Tipton (56-44), not that you were probably agonizing over that one.

1:33am: Ah, now the AP has made it official on their own site. Dayton will face Tom Emmer (and IP nominee Tom Horner) in November, in a pretty interesting political second act.

1:30am: While the AP’s site itself doesn’t have the red check mark, Politico is saying that the AP has called MN-Gov for Mark Dayton. (Looks like they can do the same math, regarding Duluth, that I can.) 95% are reporting, and Dayton has moved into a 4,000 vote margin (still 41-40), with 135/178 of St. Louis now reported.

1:25am: Things are pretty stable for Dan Maes in CO-Gov, with 90% reporting. Maes leads 50.5%-49.5%, outside auto-recount territory. He has an almost 4,000 vote margin. That’s with all of Denver having reported, and the outstanding precincts coming in Maes-friendly counties like El Paso and Douglas.

1:20am: Apparently auto-recount territory in Minnesota is also one-half of one percent. Dayton is at 40.8%, while Kelliher has 40.3%. So we’re literally right on the cusp. (Although if things keep going for Dayton, he’ll soon be out of the zone.)

1:17am: Now things are really moving in Dayton’s direction. He’s up to a 1,000 vote margin, with 94% reporting. St. Louis is at 100/178 now, which is pushing things for Dayton.

1:10am: Mark Dayton has moved into the lead in MN-Gov. Just barely… it’s 41-40 in his favor now, with a 400-vote margin. But that seems likely to increase, with St. Louis still with only 68 of 178 reporting. That’s with 91% reporting overall. Seems to be mostly rural counties filling in the gap, so Duluth will be the icing on Dayton’s cake.

12:44am: Also regarding CO-Gov, the only counties that were really keeping McInnis in this at all were the ones in his old CO-03, like Mesa (72-28 McInnis) and Pueblo (53-47 McInnis). Denver is 51-49 McInnis and all the other suburban/exurban counties are going for Maes. Mesa (Grand Jct.) and Pueblo are done reporting, while there are still lots of outstanding precincts in El Paso, Arapahoe and Jefferson (suburbs), Douglas (exurbs), and Larimer (Ft. Collins): all Maes counties.

12:40am: Via the twittermajig, Jennifer Duffy points out two helpful things: one, the recount level in Colorado is one-half of one percent. Right now, Maes is up, believe it or not, 50.26%-49.74%, so he’s just outside that zone. (That’s with 79% reporting.) Second, though, she points out that he’s expected to run strongest in El Paso County (Colorado Spgs.), where there are still a couple hundred precincts outstanding, so it’s looking more like Maes will win this thing recount-free.

12:34am: Things are verrry slowly converging in Minnesota. 87% are reporting now, and it’s 41-40, MAK over Dayton, but that’s with only a 600 vote lead. And St. Louis still hasn’t added any more precincts! Most of the new votes seem to have come in from Stearns Co (St. Cloud), where Dayton leads 42-34.

12:23am: Go, crazy bike-hating campaign-finance-law-violating guy! Dan Maes, with 78% in now, has padded his advantage, up to a 1,600 vote lead over plagiarist Scott McInnis. I’m not familiar with Colorado recount law, but that’s a 50.2%-49.8% advantage.

12:17am: Sifting over Minnesota results with a fine-toothed comb, it looks like Beltrami Co. (Bemidji) is the second biggest clot of outstanding precincts. (7 of 62 have reported.) Dayton has a narrower edge there, 41-38. There’s also some smaller counties (Pine, Pope, Roseau) that haven’t reported anything (all of which have 40-some precincts, all of which are rural counties… again, not that there’s a clear pattern among the rural counties, but the general trend in such counties seems to favor Dayton.

12:12am: Actually, I take that back, I am sensing a pattern. The biggest clot of outstanding votes are in St. Louis County (Duluth and the Iron Range), where only 49 of 178 have reported. Hennepin and Ramsey (the Twin Cities) are done reporting. Dayton seems to have an advantage in St. Louis, seeing as how he was previously elected statewide, whereas MAK has a small Twin Cities constituency. Dayton’s winning 54-30 in St. Louis, so if he can keep those numbers up, he might actually pull this out in the end.

12:10am: Things are very close in Minnesota now, with 81% reporting. MAK leads Dayton 41-40, with Entenza at 18. It’s less than a 4,000 vote lead for Kelliher, out of about 375,000. I can’t discern a pattern among the counties… Kelliher and Dayton are both from the Twin Cities… so it’s hard to see how much of a trend is at work here.

12:02am: Rocky Mountain high? Looks like they may be taking a ganja break in Colorado, where the needle’s been stuck on 75% reporting for a while. Dan Maes still has about a 1,200 vote lead over Scott McInnis.

11:39pm: OK, now the AP has called it for Ken Buck, for those of you keeping close score at home.

11:37pm: Things are staying fairly stable but close in Minnesota. With 67% reporting, it’s MAK 42, Dayton 39, Entenza 18. It’ll be a while till we know what’s what here.

11:36pm: And the GOP gubernatorial primary in Colorado keeps puttering along, at 50-50 with Maes currently up by 1,050.

11:35pm: In Colorado, various twitterers are saying Ken Buck has won, but the AP hasn’t graced us with a red checkmark yet. He’s up 52-48 with 76% reporting, though, so it looks pretty locked in. Kind of a faceplant for John McCain, who extended a lot of political capital to ally Norton the last few weeks.

11:20pm: 75% in in Colorado. Things are looking slightly better for Dan Maes, or better yet, for a protracted recount that ends with a Maes win. It’s 50-50 with a 1,300 lead for Maes.

11:16pm: Wow, things are definitely tightening in MN-Gov. It’s now 42 MAK, 39 Dayton, 18 Entenza. That’s with 55% reporting. Nate Silver just tweeted that he sees this coming down to a few thousand votes. (Currently Kelliher’s lead is about 10,000.)

11:12pm: 2897 out of 2898 precincts have reported in Georgia. I think that’s about as complete as we’re going to get… and no call from the AP. Deal leads 291,713 to 289,353. Karen Handel had better hope there are 2,500 Handel votes in that last precinct. That’s 50.2%-49.8% for Deal, so we are pretty certainly heading for a recount.

11:10pm: Somewhere along the way, the AP called the CO-07 GOP primary for Ryan Frazier, 65-35. He’ll face Ed Perlmutter in an uphill fight in November.

11:08pm: Although 52-48 qualifies as a close race, it’s pretty mundane compared with the excitement in GA-Gov and CO-Gov. Ken Buck leads Jane Norton by 4%, or by 10,000 votes.

11:06pm: Let’s take one more look at Colorado. In the Gov GOP primary, it’s Dan Maes up by only about 500 votes, at 50-50. Could we possibly see two recounts between GOPers? Best possible outcome, recount followed by Maes victory, and him fighting to bitter end. 73% are reporting.

10:52pm: MAK now leads Dayton by 43-38 with 42% in.

10:48pm: Irish eyes are smiling (I guess) — Tom Foley has won the GOP gube nomination in Connecticut.

10:44pm: We’re up to 99.4% reporting in GA-Gov. Deal leads by 3,500 — or 0.6% of the vote. We’re definitely in the recount zone here.

10:42pm: It’s worth noting that Taryl Clark is only getting 65% of the vote against Maureen Reed. Perhaps some Reed supporters didn’t hear the news that she dropped out of the race two months ago.

10:38pm: MAK’s lead over Mark Dayton has fallen even further, to 44-38 with 32% reporting.

10:37pm: With 67% in, Ken Buck is now up over Jane Norton by nearly ten grand. Maes still leads McInnis by one g.

10:33pm: The AP went on a binge in Connecticut, calling CT-02 for ex-TV anchor Janet Pecinpaugh, CT-04 for Dan Debicella, and CT-05 for Sam Caligiuri. The Republican gubernatorial primary is still un-called, with Tom Foley leading Michael Fedele by 43-38 (74% of the vote in).

10:30pm: Over in Minnesota, the Dem gube primary is narrowing slightly — MAK leads Dayton by 45-37 with 28% in.

10:27pm: Bicyclists beware, Dan Maes is back up in the GOP CO-Gov primary. He leads McInnis by 1000 votes with 65% reporting.


     Colorado: Associated Press | Politico

     Connecticut: Associated Press | Politico

     Georgia: Georgia SoS | Associated Press | Politico

     Minnesota: MN SoS | Associated Press | Politico

CO, CT, GA & MN Primary Results Thread #2

10:24pm: Time to move this party over to a freshly baked thread.

10:24pm: Guess who’s happy in Georgia? Roy Barnes. The GOPers seem possible that they’ll enter into an automatic runoff, with 97% reporting. It’s a 50.5%-49.5% advantage for Nathan Deal.

10:22pm: We’re up to 23% reporting in Minnesota, and things seem to be solidifying: MAK is still in the lead at 46, with Dayton at 36 and Entenza at 17.

10:16pm: No calls yet in CO-03 and CO-07, but Tipton leads McConnell 55-45 and Frazier leads Sias 65-35, not much drama left there.

10:15pm: By contrast, things are spreading a little more in CO-Sen R. Ken Buck now leads 52-48 over Norton.

10:14pm: Uh oh. McInnis has pulled back into the lead in CO-Gov, at least according to the AP. It’s 50-50, with a McInnis lead of 2,000.

10:12pm: Andrew Romanoff has reportedly called Michael Bennet to concede.

10:10pm: Just keep in mind: Georgia has an automatic recount for results within 1%. With 96% reporting, Handel has tightened things a little, to a 50.4%-49.6% race. 4,500 votes separate them.

10:08pm: Here’s a useful tidbit: the AP has called the IP primary in MN-Gov for Tom Horner. I’d heard reports that random GOPers (with no major primary of their own) were thinking of crossing over to sandbag Horner and try to get someone less appealing there, as the center-right Horner seems likelier to spoil things for Emmer than the Dem nominee.

10:07pm: We might also expect a call soon in CT-04 (where Dan Debicella’s at 64%, although only about one-third is reporting) and maybe also CT-05, where 75% is reporting and Caligiuri keeps gaining a little more daylight: he now leads Bernier and Greenberg 41-31-29.

10:03pm: The AP has called the CT-Sen GOP primary for Linda McMahon. She beats Simmons and Schiff 49-29-22. Still not sure I understand Simmons’ gambit, but at this point, it doesn’t matter. Let’s get ready for Blumenthal and McMahon to rumble.

10:01pm: Could Minnesota be another primary that the pollsters all got wrong? With 15% reporting, Margaret Anderson Kelliher is actually adding to her lead. She’s leading the lazy men at 47, with 35 for Dayton and 17 for Entenza.

9:58pm: The AP hasn’t called CO-Sen D, but the Denver Post have, and they probably know their state well. They just called it for Michael Bennet, who will not be joining Bob Bennett in the retirement home.

9:57pm: With ballots going to be counted over the coming days (Washington-style, they’ll count anything with today’s postmark), it may be a while till we know who wins either the R primaries in CO-Gov or CO-Sen. On the Senate side, it’s also Ken Buck 51, Jane Norton 49. For the Dems, it’s Michael Bennet 54, Andrew Romanoff 46.

9:55pm: Switching back to Colorado: it looks like they’re losing a little momentum in the count, as after quickly reaching half they’re only at 56% reporting now statewide. In the Gov GOP primary, Dan Maes still has a 51-49 lead over Scott McInnis.

9:54pm: I know you were on pins and needles about the wingnut-vs-wingnut duel in GA-07. The AP has called it in favor of former John Linder CoS Rob Woodall, 55-45, over Jody Hice.

9:52pm: We’re closing in on done in Georgia. (Apparently the Fulton County website is the one that’s right, and 75% there have reported.) Overall, 93% are in, and we’re still not close to knowing who won GA-Gov R. Deal still leads Handel 51-49, with a 7,000 vote lead out of more than 500K.

9:50pm: In CT-05, Sam Caligiuri is picking up a little speed. He’s at 40, vs. 30 each for Bernier and Greenberg, with about one-third reporting.

9:49pm: I wonder how Rob Simmons would be doing if he hadn’t done the weird Ross Perot-style angry dropout and half-assed return? Although it’s looking like Linda McMahon will win comfortably, Simmons plus Peter Schiff are keeping her below the halfway mark: 48-30-22.

9:47pm: It’ll be a while till we get a call in the GOP gube race in CT. Fedele’s definitely keeping things interesting, having had a late surge of his own. He’s at 37 to Foley’s 43, with 20 for Griebel.

9:45pm: The Hartford Courant is reporting that Ned Lamont has conceded the gubernatorial primary. (Guess who’s heaving a sigh of relief? Joe Lieberman.) And the AP just called the race, too. It’s 58-42 Malloy, with a little less than half reporting.

9:44pm: A little weirdness to note in Fulton County, Georgia. Their county website say they’re reporting 75% in, but they only have a few thousand more votes reported than according to the AP… and the AP says Fulton is only 21% reporting. We’ll have to see how this resolves itself.

9:42pm: We’re up to 2% in in MN-Gov’s DFL primary now, and things have switched here too. Kelliher’s now in the lead at 44, with Dayton at 33 and Kelliher at 22. A lot of Ramsey Co. (St. Paul) votes have come in, and they’re going for MAK by a wide margin.

9:40pm: Sad news for rematch fans. In GA-13 (not an interesting race, except for Base Connect enthusiasts), Deborah “The Defrauder” Honeycutt has lost her GOP runoff. The AP calls it for Mike Crane, 68-32; Crane will face David Scott in this safe Dem district.

9:39pm: There’s also those wee House races in Colorado. In CO-07’s GOP primary, Ryan Frazier seems to have this under control, beating Lang Sias 65-35 with more than half in. And with about a quarter in, Scott Tipton is way ahead of Bob McConnell, 58-42.

9:37pm: Also in Colorado, where we’ve shot past 50% reporting (to 56), things have swapped around in the Senate race. Ken Buck now leads Jane Norton, by a narrow 51-49 (133K to 127K), and Michael Bennet now leads Andrew Romanoff by a more convincing 54-46 (129K to 109K).

9:35pm: As things progress in Colorado, Dan Maes is starting to pull into the lead in the GOP gube primary. He leads Scott McInnis 52-48. That’s extremely good news, as Maes won’t drop out (while McInnis might, allowing a salvageable replacement) and will see this through to the bitter end.

9:32pm: The CT-04 GOP primary isn’t too remarkable (Dan Debicella is at 62% against two Some Dudes), but CT-05 is a three-way barnburner. Sam Caligiuri currently has a small edge, with 20% reporting. He leads Justin Bernier and Mark Greenberg 37-33-30.

9:30pm: Meanwhile, on the GOP side in Connecticut, Tom Foley is keeping his edge; he leads Michael Fedele and Oz Griebel 45-36-19. (Griebel, as the least known but also apparently least objectionable of the three, also seems to be overperforming.)

9:28pm: Dan Malloy is starting to put a little distance between him and Ned Lamont in the Connecticut governor’s Dem primary. Malloy now leads 58-42 with 28% reporting. Looks like Malloy’s way overperforming the polls, although the polls did capture his late surge.

9:25pm: We finally have some numbers in Minnesota, although it’s only a fraction of a percent of precincts reporting, from bellwether Anoka and Dakota Cos. in the MSP suburbs. Mark Dayton is at 43, with Margaret Anderson Kelliher at 36 and Matt Entenza at 20.

9:23pm: Insert Dan Ratherism here about the closeness of the Georgia GOP gubernatorial runoff. Nathan Deal leads Karen Handel 51-49 with 79% in, with about a 9,000 vote margin out of over 450,000 cast.

9:21pm: Looks like we have a few AP calls down in the Peach State. Tom Graves will get to stay in the House for another two years without having to face Lee Hawkins again; Graves wins GA-09 56-44. And in GA-12, Ray McKinney will get to take his nuclear power plant project management skills to the general election against John Barrow; he defeated Carl Smith 62-38. No call in GA-07 yet, although Rob Woodall leads Jody Hice 55-45 with about two-thirds in.

9:19pm: We’re racking up the numbers pretty quickly in Colorado now. Over in the Governor’s GOP primary, with almost 20% in, McInnis leads Maes by less than 1,000 votes, at 51-49.

9:11pm: Quite a few votes are reporting in Colorado, and Romanoff leads Bennet by 51-49 with 14% of precincts in. Norton leads Buck by 54-46 so far.

9:09pm: We’re at 70% reporting in GA, and Deal leads Handel by 237,146 to 229,295.

C’mon baby, let’s go!


     Colorado: Associated Press | Politico

     Connecticut: Associated Press | Politico

     Georgia: Georgia SoS | Associated Press | Politico

     Minnesota: MN SoS | Associated Press | Politico

CO, CT, GA & MN Primary Results Thread

9:01pm: Now that MN and CO are closed, let’s move this party over here.

8:55pm: 64% in, and Deal leads by 212,126 to 201,445.

8:50pm: Fulton County fans should know that they have their own results website, featuring a mind-bogglingly annoying auto-scroll feature. Enjoy!

8:47pm: So we’re up to 61% reporting in GA, and Deal leads Handel by 194,074 to 185,254.

8:44pm: Back in Connecticut, Malloy leads Lamont by 57-43 with about 10% in. Foley is up on Fedele by 46-45. Janet Peckinpaugh leads Daria Novak by 43-37 in the 2nd, and Caligiuri leads Greenberg by only 35-33 in the 5th.

8:37pm: 54% reporting in GA, and Deal’s lead has closed to 168,784-162,623.

8:26pm: We’re now at 43% reporting in Georgia, and Deal now leads Handel by 123,489 votes to 114,045. Deal’s keeping his 4% lead steady.

8:21pm: Over in the Nutmeg state, Foley leads Fedele by 46-34 with 2% of town precincts reporting. Malloy is up by 56-44 over Lamont, and McMahon has a 48-27-25 lead over Simmons and Schiff. In the 5th CD, Sam Caligiuri has a 36-32-32 lead over businessman Mark Greenberg and Afganistan vet Justin Bernier.

8:18pm: We’re up to 34% reporting in GA, and Nathaniel Deal is holding onto a 83,957-77,554 lead.

8:10pm: Deal is now leading by a full 4%, 72,107 to 66,595, with 31% reporting. Handel’s even losing Gwinnett County narrowly to Deal, which she won by a large spread back in July.

8:09pm: If you’d like to compare tonight’s results to the first round of voting, check out this handy table of county results.

8:05pm: Again, this seems to be a rare night where the Associated Press (and, therefore, the Politico) are getting lapped by the Georgia SoS. With 28% in, Deal now leads by 56,437-53,131 (3%).

8:03pm: So back to GA: Deal now sports a 48,814-46,354 lead over Handel with 26% in.

8:02pm: Polls have now closed in Connecticut.

7:57pm: Look out! Deal just took a 0.6% lead, according to the SoS. 24% of precincts are now reporting.

7:53pm: The crew over at SSP Labs is still setting up the mainframe, but we should get some projections to you once the boys in the long white coats are good and ready.

7:52pm: Deal’s now pulled even (according to the SoS office), trailing Handel by just over 40 votes, 24,739-24,693. 18% reporting.

7:48pm: In the House races, Rob Woodall leads Jody Hice by 10% in GA-07, incumbent Tom Graves leads Screamin’ Lee Hawkins by 14% in GA-09, and Ray McKinney leads Carl Smith 10% in GA-12. Oh, and Deborah Honeycutt is getting thrashed by Mike Crane in the 13th.

7:46pm: Handel now leads by just under 1000 votes (2.6%) with 15% of precincts reporting.

7:35pm: It’s now 9,630 Handel, 8,899 Deal (a 4% lead) with 9% of precincts reporting, according to the SoS. Only 1% of e-day votes have been counted so far, though.

7:20pm: We’re up to 3% reporting (according to the SoS office), and Handel’s lead over Deal is now 2,240-2,052 (that’s 52%-48%).

7:13pm: The GA SoS has our first taste of results for the night, with Handel leading Deal by a mere 28 votes.

Polls have now closed in Georgia, and SSP Headline News will be using this thread to follow the returns. Connecticut closes at 8pm Eastern and Minnesota and Colorado close at 9pm Eastern. We’ll touch base with those states later.


     Colorado: Associated Press | Politico

     Connecticut: Associated Press | Politico

     Georgia: Georgia SoS | Associated Press | Politico

     Minnesota: MN SoS | Associated Press | Politico

August Primaries to Watch

After a slow few weeks in late June and July, August promises to be quite exciting, primary-wise!

Here are some races to watch in August:


MO-Sen (R) – Blunt v. teabagger

MO-04 (R) – Free-for-all

MO-07 (R) – open seat

Proposition C – It’s about NULLIFICATION!

KS-Sen (R) – Moran/Tiahrt

KS-01, 04 (R) – open seats

KS-03 (R) – Yoder v. Lightner

KS-04 (D) – will Raj Goyle get VicRawl’d?

MI-Gov (D), (R)

MI-01, 02, 03 (R) – open seats

MI-07 (R) – Rooney/Walberg

MI-09 (R) – Rocky v. Welday

MI-12 (D)

MI-13 (D) – Kilpatrick weak

8/5: (hey, two primaries in one week!)

TN-Gov (R) – open seat

TN-03 (R) – Wamp’s open seat

TN-04 (R) – clusterfuck

TN-06 (R) – open seat

TN-08 (R) – Kirkland v. Flinn

TN-09 (D) – impending Willie Herenton fail


CT-Gov (D) and (R) – Lamont/Malloy and Fedele/Foley

CT-Sen (R) – ghost of Rob Simmons?

CT-02, 04, 05 (R)

CO-Gov (R) – McInnis and Maes double fail

CO-Sen (D) – Bennet v. Romanoff

CO-Sen (R) – the devil wears prada?

CO-03, 07 (R)

GA-Gov (R)Palin Handel v. Newt Deal

GA-07, 12 (R) – more runoffs

GA-09 (R) – Graves v. Hawkins round 3

MN-Gov (D) – Dayton v. Kelliher




WY-Gov (D), (R)


AZ-Sen (D), (R)

AZ-03 (R) – Shadegg’s open seat

AZ-01, 05, 08 (R)

VT-Gov (D)

FL-Gov (R) – (yes!!!!!!)

FL-Sen (D) – Meek v. Greene

FL-12, 25 (R) – open seats

FL-02, 08, 22, 24 (R)

FL-02 (D) – challenge to a Blue Dog from the left, v4.1

FL-17 (D) – Meek’s open seat

AK-Gov (R) – Parnell and the ghost of Palin?

AK-Sen (R) – Murkowski v. Palin proxy


LA-Sen (R) – Vitter v. Traylor

LA-02 (D) – Lafonta v. Richmond

LA-03 (R)

WV-Sen (D), (R) – Byrd special primary

Cost of War is budgetary ‘Elephant in the Room’

In challenging times like ours, it is important to step back and look at the big picture. In the Senate we wrestle with painful choices to balance the state budget. Some factors affecting the budget are outside of our control, some we can control, and others fall somewhere in-between. While most legislative work addresses things we have direct control over, we should at least understand other factors influencing the resources available.

The cost of the Iraq and Afghan wars is the budgetary “elephant in the room.” It’s enormous and it’s right in front of us, yet we don’t talk about it as we face our economic woes. We don’t need to get into arguments about the wars to consider the burden war places on our economy.

President Dwight Eisenhower, one of our nation’s greatest military leaders, late in life, expressed deep concern about what he called “the military industrial complex.” Eisenhower stated, “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.”

During World War II, people were told that the war would require blood, toil, tears, and sweat — real sacrifice, not just for soldiers overseas, but also for the people back home.

In contrast, for the current Iraq and Afghan wars, people were told they wouldn’t have to sacrifice at all; taxes would be cut, not raised. President Bush told people after 9/11 that the patriotic thing to do was to “go shopping.” Perhaps that was due to delusional ideology, or perhaps it was a trigger-happy leader who recognized that if people understood the true cost, the war would be unjustifiable.

What this means for Minnesota’s economy is clear. In addition to the incredible sacrifices made by so many military families, Minnesota’s share of the cost of the wars now exceeds $5 billion for every two-year state budget cycle. Think of the investments that could be made in our communities if the federal government invested that money in the states instead of in the war. We could have avoided the layoffs of teachers and police and firefighters and health care workers. Think of the investments in living wage jobs, the investments in nursing homes for seniors, the investments in early childhood and helping at-risk kids succeed, the investments in public infrastructure.

Minnesotans working to build a better future face growing setbacks: Young people on the “six year plan” to get a two year college degree because they work two jobs to pay tuition. Parents struggle to find a safe place for their young kids during the workday because of cuts in sliding-fee child care. Employers unable to hire older workers because their pre-existing conditions would send the employer’s insurance premiums through the roof. People with disabilities face shrinking state programs that once covered them.

Those setbacks occur because states are unable to help people get a fair shake due to budget problems. It is time to press Washington to change its priorities away from war and into facing human needs in our communities.

The military budgets of all other nations of the world combined, barely exceeds the $693 billion the U.S. will spend on the military this year. And the $693 billion doesn’t include the $42 billion for Homeland Security, nor the undisclosed budget for the National Intelligence Program.

Based on population, Minnesota’s share of total military spending, including the two wars, is almost $12 billion every year. That’s two-thirds as large as our entire state general fund budget of roughly $17 billion/year. Imagine what we could accomplish if we cut our military spending by half. The savings would balance the state budget and make huge investments in education and community development.

President Eisenhower said, “I hate war, as only a soldier who has lived it can, as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity.” He was clear in his message: “This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hope of its children.”

Sixty years later, we can see that the endless war has a real cost here at home. For the first time in our history, we are losing ground: High school students today have a lower graduation rate than their parents’ generation. Fewer young adults have access to health care than their parents have. Today’s workers will be less likely to have a decent pension than their parents enjoy. Eisenhower warned us. In spending money on war, we are truly taking away the hope of our children.

If we care about our future, ignoring the economic cost of war is just as foolish as ignoring the human cost.


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