WASHINGTON — The districts represented by Michele Bachmann and Erik Paulsen are no longer “in play,” according to analysts at the Rothenberg Report.
The change means that Rothenberg is predicting that no Minnesota districts are in danger of changing hands this fall, and that the delegation will remain stable at five Democrats and three Republicans.
“We don’t get wrapped up into how close races are going to be, just the likelihood of them flipping,” said Nathan Gonzales, Rothenberg’s political editor, in an e-mail explaining the change. “So, just because Bachmann is off the list doesn’t mean she’s going to get 60 percent, we just don’t think Democrats are going to defeat her this time.”
The Cook Political Report also has Paulsen safe, though it considers Bachmann and Tim Walz to have more competitive races, judging them “likely” to hold. CQ Politics has Paulsen and Walz as “likely” to keep control, but puts Bachmann’s seat in the more competitive “leans” category. No rating agency has any other Minnesota race in any competitive category.
Those ratings can (and undoubtedly will) change throughout the year — the dynamics in the 6th District particularly will depend heavily on who wins the Democratic race, when, and how much momentum and money they’ve got to enter the general election.
The upgrade for Bachmann comes a day after she posted a staggering $810,000 haul in the first quarter, giving her $1.53 million cash-on-hand. That doesn’t include the more than $500,000 she’s said to have raised from the recent fundraiser with Sarah Palin, which counted for the second quarter.
Of course, DFL-endorsed challenger Tarryl Clark had a banner quarter too, raising $505,000 in what is a record haul for a congressional challenger in Minnesota at this stage of the game. And Democrat Maureen Reed sent a pretty clear signal she’s in the race for the long haul by taking in $204,000 and loaning herself another $250,000, effectively closing the gap with Clark.
All of that is to say that record-breaking amounts of money will be spent to tell voters that Bachmann needs to go, while even more record-breaking amounts of money will be spent telling voters she ought to stay.
Paulsen, meanwhile, holds a sizeable fundraising edge over challenger Jim Meffert. Paulsen raised more than $320,000 in the first quarter, bringing his total cash-on-hand north of $1.1 million. Meffert, who just recently won the DFL’s endorsement over Maureen Hackett, has raised $117,000 for the campaign, according to FEC filings, and has just over $32,000 cash-on-hand.
“If Democrats couldn’t win this as an open seat in ’08, they aren’t going to win it in 2010,” Gonzales wrote.
Rothenberg sees Republicans headed for large gains this fall — and it’s entirely possible they could be big enough to seize control of the House.
We are still seven months until the midterm elections, so there is at least some possibility that the landscape could shift or that Democratic attacks on the GOP could keep Republican gains down to a minimum.
Substantial Republican gains are inevitable, with net Democratic losses now looking to be at least two dozen. At this point, GOP gains of 25-30 seats seem likely, though considerably larger gains in excess of 40 seats certainly seem possible.