Latest Strib, Rasmussen polls throw a couple of curves into governor’s race

The two most recent polls on the MN guv race — one from Rasmussen Reports and one from the Strib — portray the race very differently, and both throw a couple of curves, including one Rasmussen curve that the Tom Horner campaign finds particularly alarming (and, they would argue, inaccurate and unfair).

On a headline basis, Rasmussen shows Dayton and Emmer virtually tied (statistically insignificant lead for Emmer) and appears to show Horner taking a sharp drop, compared with other recent polls. The Strib poll shows Dayton with a big, statistically significant lead over Emmer. The Strib also confirms other recent polls that showed Horner rising over the past month and now at 18 percent.

I frequently warn of overreliance on polls (“crack for political junkies”). But:

a) We political junkies can’t stop inhaling them and

b) The particular dynamics of this race increase the always-present possibility that the polls will become a cause of the very effect they purport to measure.

IP nominee Horner’s chance of become a serious contender depend on him demonstrating that he has a real chance to win. The only way he can do it is through his showing in neutral polls.

Let’s be blunt. For several reasons, many DFLers are not thrilled with their party’s nomination of Mark Dayton. But most DFLers and lefties of all stripes are horrified at the prospect of Tom “cut taxes for business owners and programs for the poor” Emmer as governor.

The same is true in reverse. Many Republicans and old-fashioned pre-Tea Party-style conservatives are less than enthusiastic about Repub nominee Tom Emmer, but most will overcome their reservations if that’s the only way to keep Mark “Tax the Rich” Dayton out of the governor’s office.

Pretty much every poll has shown that that neither Dayton nor Emmer has locked down their party base. It makes sense that some Dems who aren’t committed to Dayton, and Repubs who aren’t committed to Emmer are flirting with the idea of voting for Horner.

This “flirting with the idea” bit is both Horner’s opportunity and his problem. If every Minnesotan who was ideologically to the right of Dayton and the left of Emmer were to vote for Tom “I’ll raise taxes less than Dayton and cut spending less than Emmer” Horner, he could pull into serious contention.

But enormous barbed-wire barriers stand between Horner’s current position and that outcome. He is still a relative unknown, does not have the kind of war chest that can buy name ID through massive advertising (nor does he have well-funded “independent” groups buying ads on his behalf as Horner and Dayton both do). The Independence Party lacks the massive computerized membership rolls and party workers to staff phone banks and provide get-out-the-vote operations that the Dems and Repubs have. Although he apparently made it a close question, Horner was unable to prevent the Chamber of Commerce from lining up behind Emmer. That was a blow to Horner.

But one — perhaps the biggest — Horner problem is that many DFLers — even many who might prefer him as governor — won’t vote for Horner if they think it might lead to Gov. Emmer. And the same for  Republicans and the specter of Gov. Dayton.

Wasted vote syndrome
It’s sometimes called the “wasted vote syndrome.” Voting for your second choice to prevent your nightmare candidate from winning is also called “strategic voting.” There’s no way to handicap Horner’s chances without considering that factor, which, although it sends IPers to the moon with frustration, is a serious recurring problem for them.

The only cure is for Horner to convince people that he seriously can win, that a vote for him won’t be wasted. And the only way to do that is to do better and better in public polls.

Recently, that has gone fairly well for Horner. After scoring in the high single digits or low teens during July and August, he rose in three straight polls from 9 percent in a SurveyUSA poll in early August to 10 in an Aug. 12 Rasmussen  to 13 in a Humphrey Institute poll of late August  and then, in a SurveyUSA poll taken Sept. 12-14, Horner scored 18 percent, doubling where he started with the same pollster a month earlier.

Then on Friday, Rasmussen reported its just-completed poll this way:

“The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Minnesota Voters shows Emmer earning 42% support to Dayton’s 41% when leaners are included. Independence Party candidate Tom Horner is a distant third with nine percent (9%) of the vote. Six percent (6%) like some other candidate in the race, and two percent (2%) are undecided.”

“This is the first survey of the governor’s race to include leaners. Leaners are those who initially indicate no preference for either of the candidates but answer a follow-up question and say they are leaning towards a particular candidate. Rasmussen Reports now considers results with leaners the primary indicator of the race.”

The big deal to Horner’s spokester Matt Lewis was that this description of the poll’s finding made it look as if Horner had dropped from 18 to 9 percent.

Horner at this point is something like the proverbial shark, which must move forward and can never swim backward. Polls that show Horner at 18 percent will not be enough to persuade anybody-but-Emmer and anybody-but-Dayton voters to risk a wasted vote on Horner. He needs to move across 20, then 25, and pretty soon. The election is five weeks from tomorrow. But if he drops back, his descent will accelerate as fewer strategic voters feel they can afford to risk him.

In fact, Horner did not drop to 9 percent. If Rasmussen had taken and reported this poll with the same methodology he used in his last MN guv poll, he would have corroborated the SurveyUSA poll (and the Strib Poll that came out Sunday) by reporting that Horner is the first choice of about 18 percent of likely Minnesota voters.

Rasmussen did say that in his writeup of the poll, just after announcing that his poll found the race to be Emmer 42, Dayton 41, Horner 9, when Rasmussen reported that:

“Excluding leaners, Emmer edges Dayton 36% to 34%, and Horner chalks up 18% support. Horner’s loss of support when leaners are added highlights the tendency in most races for supporters of third-party candidates to gravitate to one of the major party nominees as Election Day approaches. Last month, with leaners absent from the totals, Dayton held a 45% to 36% lead over Emmer…  Horner… earned 10% support at the time.”

Can you follow that? I doubt it. I stared at it a long time, talked to some poll-savvy sources and no one could really figure out what Rasmussen was doing. I eventually got the full explanation from Scott Rasmussen himself, but that explanation is not even consistent with the way Rasmussen wrote up the poll.

But here’s the missing element that Rasmussen hinted at in the writeup of its new poll. As explained to me by Rasmussen himself, before Labor Day, his company just asks people whom they support. After Labor Day, they switch to a different survey that attempts to locate what they call “leaners” and attempts to figure out where the leaners will end up.

It goes like this (and bear in mind, Rasmussen employs the robo-dial, automated interview technology, so the likely voter is responding by pushing buttons on his/her phone to choices from a recorded voice):

First it asks you whom you support. (That one came out Emmer 36; Dayton 34, Horner 18. The other 12 percent either favored someone else or were not sure whom they favored.)

In a typical “leaner” poll, those whose first response was that they were not sure whom they supported might be asked if they were “leaning” toward any candidate. If they were, they might be lumped in with the supporters of that candidate or they reported separately as “leaners” toward that candidate. Most pollsters believe that “leaners” tend to end up supporting the candidate to whom they are leaning.

But if Rasmussen was using the traditional definition of a leaner — if only the 12 percent of voters who said “someone else” or “not sure” were offered a second chance to commit to a candidate — it would have been statistically impossible for Horner’s support to fall from 18 to 9 percent across those two questions. You can take my word for it or fool around with the numbers yourself. It just doesn’t work.

But that’s not what Rasmussen did. Respondents who have already indicated a preference for Dayton, Emmer or Horner — without calling themselves undecided — are then asked in a separate question whether they are certain they will vote for the candidate they named. In this poll, 54% of Emmer supporters said they were certain, 59% of Dayton supporters and 53% of Horner supporters said so.

Everyone who didn’t say they were certain was treated as a “leaner.” That’s a much bigger portion — almost half — of the sample.

The voice robot then asks those who were not certain of their candidate a couple of follow-up questions.

Unlike most pollsters, Rasmussen doesn’t release its actual questionnaires and was unwilling to tell me exactly how these questions were worded. It would be nice to know. Rasmussen is often criticized within the profession for this lack of transparency. But the follow-up questions ask the less-than-certain voters to imagine that it is time to make their final choice and say for whom they will vote.

This is the version of the poll that Rasmussen describes as “including leaners.” If Rasmussen is describing his questions accurately to me, it is inaccurate for the Rasmussen writeup of the poll to say that “leaners are those who initially indicate no preference for either of the candidates.” In fact, most of those who are being scored as “leaners” did indicate a preference on the earlier question.

Through a glass, darkly, I can glimpse what Rasmussen hopes to accomplish with this unusual method — especially in three-way races. As the Rasmussen writeup notes, there has been a tendency for third-party and independent candidates who make a strong showing at some point to fade as Election Day approaches. Experience has suggested to him that the “leaner” approach picks up the uncertainty that supporters of third-party and minor candidates are feeling. He didn’t say this precisely, but it’s almost as if in the few minutes they spend being questioned by a recorded voice, voters may go through a compressed version of the process that causes some voters who flirt with a third-party candidate to chicken out and switch to their second choice for fear of seeing the candidate they most dread win the election.

(The 1998 victory of Jesse Ventura in Minnesota should always be noted as a significant if somewhat rare exception to the tendency of third-partiers to fade. Polls did show him surging at the end of the campaign, but he was never ahead in any poll until he won on Election Day.)

As a matter of company-wide policy in all states, Rasmussen treats the complicated “leaner” version of the poll as the best indicator of the state of play after Labor Day. Although Rasmussen is criticized within the polling industry for failure to disclose his questionnaires, he does at least describe the two ways that he is measuring the race and the results he gets both ways. But by indicating the post-Labor Day “leaner included” model is the preferred method, most media references to his poll will adopt that one.

Rasmussen told me Friday that he sees some indications that Minnesota is a special case. Specifically, he said, the fact that Horner had risen from 10 to 18 percent on what Rasmussen calls the “first preference” question, and the fact that the portion of Horner supporters who say they are certain they will vote for him as almost equal to the portion of Emmer and Dayton supporters who say so, are both unusual for a third-party candidate. Rasmussen has decided to look closely at the next three-way poll in Minnesota and may — if those unusual factors continue for Horner — decide to emphasize the non “leaner” version of the numbers. We’ll see. 

But Lewis of the Horner Campaign is correct to argue that the latest Rasmussen Poll does not show Horner fading. Apples to apples, it shows that he has risen over the past month. Lewis does agree that if Horner cannot show continued growth in his support, the traditional wasted vote argument will hurt him down the stretch. “We have to acknowledge that the wasted vote syndrome can be a real syndrome,” Lewis said.

As far as the main thing that the polls are designed to measure, both the leaner and the non-leaner versions showed Emmer barely leading Dayton, certainly within the margin for error. That’s good news for Emmer, who has trailed Dayton in nine out of 14 of the polls in the race going back to March (that includes three of the four previous Rasmussen polls).

On an apples-to-apples basis — using the last two Rasmussen polls and the non-leaner method — the race changed from a Dayton 9-point lead in August to an Emmer 2-point lead in mid-September.

The good news for Emmer was offset two days later by the release of a new Strib poll showing a big, statistically significant 39-30 percent Dayton lead over Emmer (with Horner at 18). This one had a bigger sample (949 likely voters, compared with 500 for Rasmussen) and was taken by the longer established method of actual human-to-human interviews.

The Humphrey Institute’s Larry Jacobs, whose own poll three weeks earlier had shown Emmer and Dayton tied at 34 percent, noted that the Strib was the only poll in Minnesota that was reaching Minnesotans on cell phones. This is expensive, and increasingly important, and more and more younger Americans use cellphones and have no landlines, Jacobs said.

But Jacobs was also concerned that the inclusion of cell-phoners might have overstated support for Dayton and understated support for Emmer because cell-phoners are disproportionately found among the young. And 18-34-year olds are the age group most favorable to  Dayton (in the Strib poll, he carries younger voters by 42-24 percent).

Somehow, the Strib poll ended up categorizing 77 percent of its interviewees as likely voters. It would be very surprising if any state — even Minnesota — had a 77 percent turnout in a midterm election. (Jacobs’ own poll projected roughly a 60 percent turnout. Minnesota led the nation in the 2006 midterm with a 60 percent turnout.)

I should note, although I do not subscribe to them, that there are long-standing Republican suspicions that the Strib’s polling is biased against Repubs; and Dems often make the same argument, in reverse, that Rasmussen’s polls are suspiciously favorable to Repubs.

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Comments (33)

  1. Submitted by Lora Jones on 09/27/2010 - 11:16 am.

    Eric, Dems don’t say Rasmussen favors Republicans — Nate Silver is the one who found a 3.5-4 point pro-Republican “house effect” in Rasmussen polls.http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/search/label/pollster%20ratings

  2. Submitted by Arito Moerair on 09/27/2010 - 11:26 am.

    Tom Emmer will be the governor because Tom Horner will join the ranks of Minnesota’s Spoiler Hall of Shame. I hope Horner is prepared to live with himself after that. But then, I’m sure Tim Penny and Peter Hutchinson are doing fine and learned good life lessons and all that nonsense — while Minnesota suffers because these men could not contain their egos.

    Of course, what does that say about progressive voters? Were they unable to discipline themselves? Do they get a boost to their smug sense of self-satisfaction to know that they voted for whom they “know was the best candidate” — only to wind up living with the worst one?

    Sometimes I don’t know which is worse: the egotistical IP candidates or the numbskulls who vote for them.

  3. Submitted by Jean Schiebel on 09/27/2010 - 12:07 pm.

    You said it all David.
    This would be a much better state if IP candidates had stayed out of all the elections.
    Maybe some day they will learn.

  4. Submitted by Ginny Martin on 09/27/2010 - 12:13 pm.

    I think it’s egotistical and arrogant for anyone to assume they know what’s in anyone else’s mind. Moufgang argues that Horner, Hutchinson, and Tim Penny only ran (are running) out of egotism. We are not mind readers (although based on his behavior I think that fits Ventura). Nor are any of us prophets, another arrogant attitude. You don’t know and no one knows that Emmer will win. I think it’s unlikely, but that is an opinion, not a fact.
    My guess is that Horner could not abide the idea of an Emmer in office as a Republican. Horner has some serious drawbacks apart from being a republican in actuality, one of them being that he has no party organization and no in in the Legislature behind him.

  5. Submitted by Brian Simon on 09/27/2010 - 12:21 pm.

    David Moufang writes
    “I don’t know which is worse: the egotistical IP candidates or the numbskulls who vote for them.”

    As one of those numbskulls, I ask in rebuttal why the DFL continues to nominate such uninspiring candidates that people like me turn to a 3rd party alternative? Likewise for the GOP, of course, which has taken their something-for-nothing, voodoo economics to illogical extremes.

    On the topic, I have noticed that inconsistent polling has not been limited to the MN Gov race. The NY Gov race has likewise thrown the pundits and pollsters for various loops. Is Cuomo 6 points ahead, or 29? My suspicion is that some pollsters will get burned by their ‘likely voter’ algorithms. Here in MN, while I don’t see a whole lot of DFL enthusiasm for former Sen Dayton, there is certainly plenty of anti-Pawlenty enthusiasm, that Emmer is doing a good job stoking by campaigning to Pawlenty’s right. I think a lot of voters are going to cast unenthusiastic ballots this year – whether they’re mostly for Horner or Dayton will be interesting to watch.

  6. Submitted by Arito Moerair on 09/27/2010 - 12:24 pm.

    One other point I forgot. It’s a simple concept and it may sound very cynical, but I believe it’s true. American politics is a lesser-of-two-evils game. Always has been, always will be. Had the Nader Raiders in 2000 known this, our country would be a vastly different place today.

  7. Submitted by John Hakes on 09/27/2010 - 12:26 pm.

    In response to commenter #2 Mr. Moufang, here are a few attributes of Mr. Horner that has this “numbskull” voting for him:

    In my opinion, Candidate Tom Horner:

    1. is by far– the most realistic, grounded, thoughtful and open-minded candidate in the governor’s race.

    2. has yet to utter one word that could leave a prospective voter uttering “that guy is full of baloney” or could be seen as a case of emotional provocation or demagoguery.

    3. has never, not once, made a disparaging remark or taken the bait of a journalist to speak to another candidate’s life troubles.

    4. has dominated most every debate in the eyes of many media folk and members of the different political parties.

    5. is such an acknowledging individual you might even like him were you to meet (by the way, can readers look for someone you do support wholeheartedly in a future post?)

    6. has the political grace to accept & work with people of all viewpoints, unlike the Democrats and Republicans whose political grudge match for one another could well end up deciding this election.

    7. would be the best governor this state has seen in decades, if only people would open up their “never minds.”

  8. Submitted by Arito Moerair on 09/27/2010 - 12:43 pm.

    No matter what any of you Horner supporters say, Tom Horner will never be governor. Are you prepared to vote for a loser? And are you prepared to live with the aftermath when one of the major party candidates, of which you speak so highly, takes over? I urge you to look at the other two and decide which is less evil. Consider life in Minnesota under one of those two candidates. We don’t live in a perfect world, but Tom Horner supporters apparently think that we do.

    Undoubtedly we need more choices in elections, but until Minnesota offers IRV, I can never support a third-party candidate. Since Emmer will be the next governor, I don’t foresee IRV happening anytime in the next decade.

  9. Submitted by Arito Moerair on 09/27/2010 - 12:45 pm.

    @John Hakes:

    I take issue with your point (2). Horner has proposed increasing the sales tax, which is a total joke. That is a regressive tax and Horner knows better.

  10. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 09/27/2010 - 01:02 pm.

    I just have to point out that just like the Nader effect in Florida, the problem Democrats have is not independents, it’s their own ranks. In any race if Democrats simply voted for Democrats the would win almost every election, but they don’t. The thing that always bug me about these erstwhile “liberals” is that their reason for voting for someone else is moderation. Any Democrat who’s thinking for voting for Horner is doing so out some misguided allegiance to “moderation”. Democrats have the only candidate that’s making a honest stab at actually erasing the Deficit. His plan is supported by the majority of Minnesotan’s. And he’s demonstrated a sense of integrity and honesty regarding public policy. Yet they don’t want to vote him, and they’ll blame Horner if he loses.

    Middlism, or moderate bias is the biggest invisible ideology in US history. And it’s the undoing of us all.

  11. Submitted by Lora Jones on 09/27/2010 - 01:18 pm.

    I just took a quick look at Rasmussen’s questions and breakouts. These folks are incredible in every sense of the word! The cell phone exclusion and the framing of the questions are obviously skewing the self-selected sample towards the right. I can’t credit a poll that finds twice as many Minnesotans want the health care reform bill repealed as Americans as a whole do (Rasmussen’s 54% to Kaiser’s 26%). I will say, though, that they left the strongest of the push poll questions until after they’d asked about the governor’s race.

    If you can, Eric, could you find out if Rasmussen included the governor preferences of those who hung up in disgust at being asked about how much they favor repealing the health care bill? My guess is that they were excluded. There’s more than one way to get the answer you’re looking for . . .

  12. Submitted by chris hatch on 09/27/2010 - 01:45 pm.

    all of you third party haters are full of it.

    where is it written that the US must only have 2 parties?

    Where is it written that we must vote our fears?

    If either Emmer or Dayton were better candidates then Horner would be a non-issue in the campaign. The only reason he is important is that the leading candidates are not compelling in any way. Neither one of them wants to make the tough choices which are both deep spending cuts AND increased taxes.

    Personally I liked Horner until he announced his regressive sales tax proposal and then I lost faith in him as a leader, but to argue that people shouldn’t have the right to more than the choice of A or B is ludicrous.

  13. Submitted by Brian Simon on 09/27/2010 - 01:53 pm.

    David Moufang asks
    “Are you prepared to vote for a loser?”

    given that only one of the three candidates will win, and the last three gubernatorial elections have been won with a plurality of votes, its a safe prediction to suggest that the majority this year will vote for a loser. Blame the Hutchinson voters like me if you want, but we all knew the Hatch implosion was coming months before he finally erupted. For imposing Pawlenty on us for a second term, why don’t you blame the DFLers who keep picking weak candidates? In your terms, they’re the real ‘losers’ – they’ve come up short for 20 years now.

  14. Submitted by John Hakes on 09/27/2010 - 01:59 pm.

    @ David Moufang

    If going the sales tax route for raising revenue is a joke, then why has the Star Tribune advocated moving toward it for 20 years?

    And why do groups like the liberal Growth & Justice and the business-led 21st Century Tax Reform Commission both come to the conclusion that getting a tax system to match a modern economy by expanding the sales tax base is the best way to go?

    If the sales tax were a joke, that would also discount the views of such respected lawmakers as Sen. Tom Bakk, Chair of the Senate Tax Committee, as well as Sen. Ann Rest and Rep. John Benson, who are members of key financial committees in their respective bodies.

    True, raising the income tax can lay claim to being slightly more progressive than the sales tax, but the income tax loses the contest with the sales tax in two other important ways:

    1. Business and income taxes are highly volatile when compared to the sales tax, which creates wide swings in state revenue collections that make budgeting & distributing tax dollars consistently and fairly extremely difficult.

    2. Income taxes also put a greater drag on economic growth than the more insulated sales tax.

    Last but not least, high business and individual income earners will always be able to use the power of the purse and legal and financial resources to make them come out ahead. (With the preference of raising income taxes that Mr. Dayton and his supporters espouse, we Horner supporters can rely on real-world applications as the basis for our vote as well.)

    Yes, Tom Horner advances the most practical positions to keep the state out of financial turmoil of the 3 candidates running.

  15. Submitted by Brian Simon on 09/27/2010 - 02:01 pm.

    “Middlism, or moderate bias is the biggest invisible ideology in US history. And it’s the undoing of us all.”

    It amuses me to no end that the ideological partisans find moderates so frustrating. How foolish of us to look for good ideas that produce results, rather than subscribe to a belief system untied to the nuance of the real world.

    Sorry, I vote for the candidate, not the party. If y’all had had the sense to nominate Ryback, I’d be on your side. Dayton, while refreshing in his willingness to buck conventional wisdom on taxes, just doesn’t fill me with a sense of confidence that he’s competent.

  16. Submitted by Gail O'Hare on 09/27/2010 - 02:08 pm.

    I’m disappointed to see Eric Black turn this into a story about Horner. Mark Dayton is winning. Despite the slanted Strib coverage (take a look at the headlines they use for any Dayton story) and the general media bias, most Minnesotans trust Mark Dayton. They know his priorities are their priorities.

    Horner may not be as bad as Emmer on policy, but he’s worse than everyone else who started in this race on experience. He’s an ad man! His idea of a platform is working with his buddies on a stadium. If he somehow managed a 3rd party “victory,” what would he do? He’d fall into the arms of the gimme party, the rightwingers who got us into this mess.

    Mark Dayton will win.

  17. Submitted by Zintis Inde on 09/27/2010 - 02:29 pm.

    A better case for instant runoff voting has never been made.

  18. Submitted by Gary Clements on 09/27/2010 - 02:49 pm.

    Why is it that we can’t see the clear solution to the “wasted vote syndrome”? No doubt many voters who might favor Horner will vote the Dem or Rep candidate because they cannot stomach the thought of the other winning. But their vote would not be wasted if we simply valued the premise that we MUST elect a governor with a MAJORITY vote. Which, by the way, we have NOT done in the past 4 elections, at least.

    Much as I hate to say it, if I knew that Gov. Pawlenty had been the most “acceptable” candidate, even if not the first choice of voters, and had been elected by a majority who voted for him as either first or second choice, I would have found it easier to accept his leadership.
    How can we secure a majority vote? Instand Runoff Voting, or “Ranked Choice Voting”, as it is sometimes called, is the answer. Put the value out there that it takes a majority of votes to elect, and let people express their first choice, and if they choose, list a second and third choice. Then, when nobody gets a majority, the low vote-getter is eliminated, and the second choice of those who voted for that candidate is added to the other candidates… This process continues until someone has a majority.

    This would free us to list Mr. Horner as our first choice. If the one really don’t want gets a majority, well, the people have spoken. But if he doesn’t, then my second choice would eventually come into play. Why is there so much resistance to this simple process. We claim to operate our government by majority rule, while recognizing the voice of the minority. But we really don’t, do we.

  19. Submitted by Michael Hunt on 09/27/2010 - 03:00 pm.

    David, as Paul noted, I’d ask YOUR party (or each of the 2 parties) why it can’t nominate a candidate that can handily defeat the Loonie on the other side? Frankly, I’d rather not have a Governor than to have either of the candidates offered up by the 2 major parties so, yes, I’m more than happy to vote for a “losing” candidate.

    Finally, after reading your posts, you have the audacity to call the IP candidates “egotistical”? As Triumph would say, that’s like poop telling vomit it stinks.

  20. Submitted by Richard Schulze on 09/27/2010 - 03:19 pm.

    I’m one of those that supports Tom Horner. I agree with Brian, if the DFL had put up an inspiring candidate… There is a reason that the DFL has not won in recent years. To push the blame on the IP does not take responsibility for the quality of candidate they have had over the years. And I’m sure the same could be said of the GOP candidate this year.

    Otherwise I believe Mr. Hakes sums it up very well.

  21. Submitted by Rosalind Kohls on 09/27/2010 - 03:32 pm.

    Back in the 70s, when Al Quie, IR, ran against Rudy Perpich, DFL, the Minnesota Poll results showed Quie would lose 45.5% to Perpich’s 49.5%. Once the actual votes were tallied, however, Quie won 52.3% to Perpich’s 45.2%. It’s not surprising that the poll was wrong. What aggravated me to no end, was that the raw data for the poll showed that voters preferred Quie. The analysts who compiled the data, once they crunched the numbers, came to the opposite conclusion. It looked as if they wanted Perpich to win, so they misrepresented the results. I’ve distrusted the Minnesota Poll ever since.

  22. Submitted by r batnes on 09/27/2010 - 03:45 pm.

    While I agree that the crop of candidates is less than stellar, anyone that disparages a vote for an IP candidate with statements like “Tom Horner will never be Governor” has a short memory. I’ve got two words for you: Jesse Ventura.

  23. Submitted by Arito Moerair on 09/27/2010 - 04:10 pm.

    As they say, pride goeth before the fall. It’s a tough thing to do, to swallow one’s pride. The choice is simple. If you want Tom Emmer to run the state further into the ground than Tim Pawlenty ever dreamt in his wildest fantasies was possible, then by all means, vote for Tom Horner.

    There’s this thing in politics called pragmatism. You have grand visions of what you want done, yet you work within the confines of reality to produce practical results.

    I didn’t want Dayton either. I wanted RT Rybak, the only DFLer in the ten years that has inspired any kind of fire in me. Then the party imploded and nominated Kelliher. I really lost heart. I told myself I’d hold my nose with both hands and feet to vote for her. Then we got Dayton, who’s barely a step up.

    The one fire in me is that I sure as hell don’t want Tom Emmer continuing down this disastrous path that Pawlenty has charted. We must do everything in our power to prevent this dangerous rightwing reactionary from taking office. I’m the first to admit that politics here is about *preventing* bad things from happening instead of making good things happen. That’s the unenviable position in which we find ourselves, but that’s reality. And I’m prepared to deal with it by voting for the candidate who I feel will build the biggest wall against the orchestrated, malicious destruction of Minnesota.

    That man is Mark Dayton.

    (And maybe if gets in, we’ll finally get IRV, and we can finally put this discussion to rest.)

  24. Submitted by Jeff Klein on 09/27/2010 - 04:18 pm.

    “If y’all had had the sense to nominate Ryback, I’d be on your side. Dayton, while refreshing in his willingness to buck conventional wisdom on taxes, just doesn’t fill me with a sense of confidence that he’s competent. ”

    I think that’s worth repeating and I mostly agree. The only difference is I will vote for Dayton and be a little irritated while I do it.

    I’m not a third-party hater by any means, but as has been partially pointed out here, if you want a third-party governor, elect the Democrat now who will be more likely to let IRV happen, and *then* do it. It’s simply the mostly likely path to success.

  25. Submitted by Brad Lundell on 09/27/2010 - 04:26 pm.

    Ron, there’s a difference here and we’ll probably know early on election day what Horner’s chances are. When Jesse ran in 1998, the actual voter turnout was 5 or 6 percentage points above the estimate. My guess is a sizable majority of the increment about expected turnout voted Ventura and swung the election to him.

    I think a similar effect put Arne Carlson in office in 1990, as Perpich v. Grunseth didn’t seem to have voters all that excited. Grunseth has to drop out, enter pro-choice Arne, disaffected suburban voters show up en masse, voila, Carlson and Wellstone elected!

    Anyway, I digress. We’re 12 years away from the election of Ventura and the political environment is different. No candidate can win on a platform of reduced license tab fees and reduced regulation of personal watercraft. Things looked so great in 1998 that people thought “Heck, even a professional wrestler/conspiracy buff can run Minnesota.”

    We’re not there today. Horner is going to have to get more votes out of an existing pie as opposed to counting on energizing a bunch of folks who ordinarily wouldn’t vote, as happened in 1990 and 1998.

    I’m not saying it can’t be done. I am saying it’s quite a challenge.

  26. Submitted by Jeanne Massey on 09/27/2010 - 04:52 pm.

    Thank you, Eric, for clarifying the numbers in the Rasmussen poll. Very helpful.

    Both the Rasmussen and Star Tribune polls attempt to get at voters’ second preferences and the potential of tactical voting, i.e., the tendency to vote for your second preference for fear of wasting your vote or helping elect the candidate you like last.
    Eric Black describes this dilemma well.

    But the polling of second preferences is done indirectly. Rasmussen asks voters who are undecided or who are not totally certain about their first choice to indicate which way they are “leaning”.

    The Star Tribune asks voters a second question: Who would you vote for if Horner weren’t in the race?

    A simpler, more direct and likely more accurate way would be to ask respondents to rank the candidates in preference order.

    Ranked polling would give all candidates a truer indication of first-choice support and who their second preferences would be if their first preference were no longer a candidate in the race.

    As many have written above, hopefully, the day will come soon when we can use Ranked Choice Voting in our state elections — as we now do in Minneapolis and St. Paul — and provide more choice to voters without the destructive consequences of “wasted” votes and “spoiler” dynamics.

  27. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 09/27/2010 - 06:25 pm.

    //How foolish of us to look for good ideas that produce results, rather than subscribe to a belief system untied to the nuance of the real world.

    Moderates reject actual solutions in favor of mediocrity, it’s not nuance, it’s lack of imagination. What’s funny is that moderates like to pretend they’re thinking outside the box when they’re actually rejecting the most creative and effective ideas most of the time. Moderates like to pretend that the status quo represents innovation, it does not. Horner appeals to moderates precisely because he’s not threatening to do anything that will actually change anything one way or the other. Moderates pretend this is realism but it’s really just timidness.

    I’m not a Democrat, and Dayton wasn’t my first choice either. I would rather have seen Rybak or Rukavina. I’ve voted for third party candidates many times. Listen, if you think your pushing the envelope with Horner, or if you think Horner is closer to Rybak or Rukavina than Mark Dayton is, all I can say is you gotta be stoned man.

  28. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 09/27/2010 - 06:59 pm.

    Whew! Lots of strong feelings here, but I note very little admitted enthusiasm for Emmer, which seems curious. As others have noted, Mr. Emmer among them, the only poll that REALLY counts is the one on November 2nd, but it’s interesting to speculate, nonetheless.

    While I usually lean left politically, I’ve never been a party loyalist, and have voted for candidates of both major parties, as well as an occasional independent, though the latter was always in a local or state legislative race, never for something statewide. I like the idea of ranked-choice voting, and would like to see it implemented, but at the moment, ranked-choice voting isn’t an option available to me, so I have to choose among three very different gubernatorial candidates.

    I’m not quite ready to climb on the “You’re wasting your vote!” bandwagon, but I do think there are practical difficulties that weigh against Tom Horner, not least of which is that we have genuine problems that need solutions, and as far as I can tell, the IP doesn’t have broad representation in the legislature. Horner seems a businessman’s Republican, rather than an ideologue, so it seems reasonable to suppose that he would lean in that direction.

    But what’s good for business, despite the famous line from the GM chairman decades ago, is not necessarily good for the society as a whole.

    I’m inclined to go with David (#24) on this one. My first choice was Ryback, as well, and Kelliher was next, so yes, I’d have preferred a different DFL candidate, but I’ve watched the debates and read everything published here on MinnPost as well as in the ‘Strib, and I have no qualms at all about voting for Dayton on November 2nd. The alternatives, for very different reasons, seem unlikely to be able to work with the legislature which, it bears pointing out, also reflects the will of the voting public. The state’s problems will not be solved by gridlock under the capitol dome in St. Paul, and I certainly hope that DFL legislators will not peacefully cooperate with either a sell-out to corporate interests or a return to nullification and the antebellum South.

    It would be tragically ironic if the First Minnesota Volunteer Regiment’s sacrifice at Gettysburg was rendered irrelevant 150 years later by a Governor from the same political party – in name, if not in spirit – as Abraham Lincoln. I’m inclined to agree with David’s 4th paragraph. I’m a relative newbie to the state, but this does strike me as an election that’s more about preventing more bad things from happening than making good things happen.

    Emmer may win whether I like it or not, but at my house, at least, someone who proposes a return to the doctrine of nullification in the guise of the Tenth Amendment is not qualified for any sort of statewide office.

  29. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 09/27/2010 - 09:08 pm.

    Horner used to be a Republican, and his politics are what used to be the Republican main stream.
    So, the choice is between a reactionary Republican, and moderate Republican (still well to the right of center) and a moderate Democrat.
    There’s no real centrist in the race.

  30. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 09/27/2010 - 11:02 pm.

    OK, I’m late to the game, here, but two things strike me after reading the article and all the comments: both things regarding the polls, themselves. First, it does, indeed, seem as if the Rasmussen polls are suspect both because of methodology and because of results which, time after time, seem to skew in the Republican direction.

    Second, in my experience, its not just the younger demographic but forward-looking, progressive people in every age range who have decided that it doesn’t make sense to continue the expense of two phone systems and, hence, have dumped their land line and gone with cell-only phone service (even out here in rural Minnesota).

    I can’t help but wonder if this is also a common pattern with those who are unemployed and watching their spending very carefully. A cell phone, after all, makes you available wherever you go, whereas a land line limits your availability to potential employers to reach by phone.

    All of which leads me to conclude that the Strib poll, in including cell phone users, a larger sample, and a much more straightforward and reliable methodology, seems more likely to be accurate than the Rasmussen poll which, as stated above, leaves out cell phone-only individuals and uses a far more questionable (and easily-manipulated) methodology.

    After all, if Mr Rasmussen can’t even convincingly explain how his poll gathered their raw numbers, nor how they crunched those numbers (all of which came suspiciously close to sounding as if it were an attempt to minimize Mr. Horner’s chances and thus drive moderate Republicans back to Emmer), I have a hard time trusting the accuracy of his results. In fact his explanation almost sounded as if he was making it up as he went along.

    It will indeed be interesting to see whose poll numbers turn out to most closely match the outcome of the election, especially as we grow closer to November 2nd.

  31. Submitted by John Clawson on 09/28/2010 - 10:49 am.

    Another late-to-the-game voice, but…..

    1) DEMOCRATS on the matter of Democrats not voting for Democratic candidates, we all recall Will Rogers’ comment, “I don’t belong to an organized political party; I’m a Democrat.” Thids issue has been going on for seventy years or better in our party

    2) THIRD PARTIES [1] In many respects I like Tom Horner and his candidacy, but, as noted above, he will have NO constituency in either a Republican or Democratic legislature, and really has no constituency in Minnesota. He is, like all IPers to date, I think, a man with some ideas who is strong enough to stand up and out and give vcoice to them. But that is about all there is to it. Parties are movements and the middle-way/IP view of life is not a movement. In the end his only lasting contribution may be tyhat he inspires R or D officeholders to adopt some of his good ideas.

    3) THIRD PARTIES [2] It is nowhere written that the United States has a two party system. It’s just that that is the way it is and has been since long before the U. S. was even born. We did not evolve a parliamentary/coalition form of political discourse/government as many other countries. For reasons I do not pretend to understand entirely, our political culture reflects the binary/bi-polar that is the essence of human nature: you say poTAYto, I say poTAHto…build the canal/don’t built it…fight the Frernch/don’t fight the French…slave/free…abortion choice/no abortion choice, etc. Compromise is not in our blood. Never has been. It’s just human nature.

    4. THIRD PARTIES [3] There is no IP party p[eer se in Minnesota. Just 5-10% of voters who don’t like the Dem/Rep candidate. Jesse Ventura? He was a comic TV character who spit in the eye of the establishment, and a lot of us like and admire people like that. His policies and programs? Doesn’t make any difference/don’t care/doesn’t need’em. He was wild and weird, and for many that was enough. My experience was that I was an election judge in that election and our precinct was SWAMPED with voters (many of them young’uns who had never voted before) whose sole and explicit mission was to vote for Jesse and who left the downballot unvoted. Horner is no Ventura; the only similarity is that he is a strong man with ideas and is contra (though hardly outside) established thought and convention.

    5. WHY CAN’T IT BE DIFFERENT? The political system in our country and state is what it is. To a large extent asking to have it behave differently than it does is like asking why we can’t get water to boil at 185 degrees so we can save some energy. Good idea; not going to happen. People are binary by nature when they start discussing public policy. Except for the Founding Fathers who made some pretty creative and interesting compromises to found the country; after that, however…….

    6. PROPORTIONAL VOTING. Who votes for that/IRV in the Legislature, the Dems or the Reps? Which gubernatorial candidate will sign that bill into law? Emmer (not bloody likely)…Horner (who knows?)…Dayton (most likely I think)

  32. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 09/29/2010 - 11:03 am.

    The winner takes all nature of our election structure forces us into a two party outcome. Once and while a third party displaces one of the two parties but they just become the second of two. The other thing that encourages two party outcomes is low voter turnout. You’ll note that here in MN where we have traditionally high turnout, we produced the DFL. The distinction between the DFL and the national Democrats is no longer recognizable but there was a time, and I think those days may be returning.

    Ranked voting might help but the theory is that third party voting will force the two parties into modifying their platforms to garner the third party votes. I’ve been watching this experiment for years and I’ve noticed that while the Republicans appear to be vulnerable to extreme right third party voters, the Democrats seem to willing to lose elections rather than move to the left. I’m not sure why this is, I suspect it’s actually a manifestation of capitalism, but there you have it. Every once and while Democrats actually embrace liberalism for while but these periods are to short and far apart. Liberals have had the solution to all the problems the nation has been facing for the last 30 years from budgets to the environment but Democrats have steadfastly refused to adopt those policies. Progressive intellectuals have been advocating a two-state solution to the Israeli Palestinian conflict for 40 years for instance and Democrats are just now getting behind that. Instead Dems have adopted Republican-Light proposals and the problems we had in the 70s and 80s have simply expanded and enlarged, the only exception being the end of the Cold War. And even there the opportunity to re-deploy military spending was missed leaving us with bloated military budgets.

    It may be hopeful that Minnesotan’s appear to be voting for honest to god liberals again in stead of the milk toast and mediocre moderates the Democrats have insisted on promoting for almost 30 years. Ironically, the shift towards liberalism has upset some Democrats who now say they are considering Horner instead of their own candidate.

    I think this simply tells us what many of us already knew, there is a significant number of Democrats who are really Republicans. These Republocrats complained about Franken and Dayton being to liberal and didn’t think they were electable. Turns out they are electable precisely because they are liberals. Republocrats preferred candidates like Mike Hatch and Ciresi who were uninspired moderates. Kelliher talked like a liberal but when you actually looked at her plan she was closer to Horner to than Dayton. I think if the Dems had gone with Kelliher Horner would be looking at possible win right now.

    Obama got elected because he promised a liberal approach to problem solving. He’s in trouble because he didn’t deliver that approach, the abandoned it almost immediately. Meanwhile the liberals who continue to fight the liberal fight, Franken, Ellison, etc. are still supported by the electorate who voted them into office. Maybe Dayton is the will the next liberal prove that liberals can win elections. How many times will that have to happen before Democrats finally accept the fact?

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