Day-after thoughts on the Strib Horner endorsement

Day-after thoughts on the Strib endorsement, which MinnPost’s David Brauer analyzed yesterday.

First, a little raw data. Here are the Strib endorsements from the past six guv races:

  • 1990: Rudy Perpich over Arne Carlson
  • 1994: Arne Carlson over John Marty
  • 1998: Skip Humphrey over Norm Coleman and Jesse Ventura
  • 2002: Tim Penny over Tim Pawlenty and Roger Moe
  • 2006: Mike Hatch over Tim Pawlenty and Peter Hutchinson
  • 2010: Tom Horner over Mark Dayton and Tom Emmer

Couple of tallies:

  • That’s three DFLers, two IPers, and one Repub.
  • That’s four losers and one winner and one to-be-determined.

A couple of analysis points following from the tallies:

  • At least in guv endorsements and notwithstanding its ultra-liberal reputation among conservatives who like to call it “the Red Star,” the Strib tends to like moderates.
  • At least in guv endorsements, the Strib is not very influential. If it does have the power to move voters, its influence is almost greater among liberals. It will be interesting to see if future polling suggests that Horner is moving up and, if he is moving up, if he is doing so at Dayton’s expense.

Yesterday’s endorsement was the most enthusiastic in recent history. The Strib ed-page is all-in for Horner. The Strib even ran a previous pre-endorsement of Horner, urging Minnesotans to give him serious consideration. That piece, plus yesterday’s endorsement, ran on the cover of the Op-Ex section. And the editorial was a week earlier than the traditional date for guv endorsements.  I believe all three of these facts are unprecedented.

The Strib overstated at least one case. Horner has not, as the editorial stated, “attracted an impressive list of bipartisan endorsements.” Horner has a former Repub governor and a former Repub U.S. senator on his team and recently released an impressive list of moderate Republican supporters who served in the Legislature. So far, the most prominent DFLer to go public for Horner is Joan Niemec, a former member of the Minneapolis City Council.

Horner spokester Matt Lewis says an endorsement by a prominent DFLer is in the bag with an announcement coming soon.

Lastly, and this is obviously just a personal reaction, the weakest thing in the endorsement was the unwillingness of the piece to really take on the “wasted vote” problem. This is tough sledding. I don’t know exactly what the Strib could say to relieve the worries of those in the anybody-but-Emmer and anybody-but-Dayton camps that by voting for Horner they will end up voting for a third-place finisher, fail to make their vote count in the lesser-of-two-evils choice, and possibly end up with the greater-of-two-evils.

What the editorial did say …

“Our advice: Talk to your fellow Minnesotans in the next two weeks. Think about the obligation citizens bear to vote their consciences. And don’t let fear cause you to vote for a candidate you consider to be the second-best choice …”

Came across as heartfelt but hortatory and lame.

The Strib has been generally friendly to Instant Runoff Voting as an experiment in Minneapolis and St. Paul, but I don’t know if it has ever called for the expansion of that system to the statewide races. Personally, I favor it, largely because it would enable Minnesotans to vote for their first choice without having to agonize about wasting their vote.

I do assume that if we had that system this year, and if Horner could finish in the top two on the first round, he would surely win the instant runoff. I don’t assume that he would finish in the top two. But whoever won under that system, we would end up, for the first time since 1994, with a governor who had at least some claim to a mandate from the majority of Minnesotans.

Wrong word choice corrected after the fact: Above, I describe the Strib’s endorsement as the most “enthusiastic” in recent history. As first published, I called the editorial the most “fulsome” in recent history, because I thought “fulsome” meant “full-throated” or “enthusiastic.” But “fulsome” is a perjorative term that says something quite different from what I intended. So I changed it to “enthusiastic.” And I apologize.

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Comments (17)

  1. Anonymous Submitted by Anonymous on 10/18/2010 - 01:35 pm.

    Re: “impressive list of bipartisan endorsements.” That’s how right wing authoritarians argue: with lies. The Strib has really sunk to new lows.

  2. Submitted by Paul Landskroener on 10/18/2010 - 02:07 pm.

    Thanks for this, Eric.

    I have been disappointed that there has been too little commentary on the intolerable situation where we are about to elect — for the fourth election in a row — a governor for whom a substantial majority of Minnesotans voted against! And to add insult to injury, the DFL candidate himself did not get a majority of votes of his own party in the primary and is quite clearly the third or forth choice of DFLers state wide. How crazy can this get?

    I have tried, so far unsuccessfully, to ask the candidates in various debate situations whether they would support instand runnoff voting (a.k.a. ranked choice voting) in statewide races. The one (between Dayton and Horner) who says “Yes” with the most conviction has my vote.

    Voting is still a hard decision and I’m not sure that having state-wide IRV would keep me from strategically voting for Dayton even if I preferred Horner; but at least it gives me the opportunity to vote my conscience.

  3. Submitted by Brian Simon on 10/18/2010 - 03:49 pm.

    “I don’t know exactly what the Strib could say to relieve the worries of those in the anybody-but-Emmer and anybody-but-Dayton camps that by voting for Horner they will end up voting for a third-place finisher, fail to make their vote count in the lesser-of-two-evils choice, and possibly end up with the greater-of-two-evils.”

    I vote for Horner in 2010 is no more wasted than a vote for Hatch was in 2006.

    The ‘wasted vote’ syndrome amounts to a mindset of “I think candidate X is better, but I have such a low opinion of other voters, I think they don’t see it my way, so I have to vote for candidate Y to keep the worst of three evils (Z) out.’

  4. Submitted by Richard Schulze on 10/18/2010 - 04:42 pm.

    Brian made an interesting comment a while back that I agree with, it went something like:

    ‘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.’

  5. Submitted by Dan Hintz on 10/18/2010 - 05:15 pm.

    “I (sic) vote for Horner in 2010 is no more wasted than a vote for Hatch was in 2006.”

    That is complete nonsense. Hatch lost a very close and winnable election. In voting for Hatch, you had a good chance of voting for the winner. In fact, it was the “wasted” votes for Peter Hutchinson that may have made the difference. On the other hand, if you vote for Horner, you are one hundred percent guaranteed to vote for a loser.

    “The ‘wasted vote’ syndrome amounts to a mindset of “I think candidate X is better, but I have such a low opinion of other voters, I think they don’t see it my way, so I have to vote for candidate Y to keep the worst of three evils (Z) out.'”

    It has nothing to do with a low opinion of other voters. Its that Tom Horner is an extremely unappealing candidate who is being rejected by the vast majority of Minnesota voters. And some of the small number of people who might otherwise vote for Horner have and will decide that there is a difference between the viable candidates and don’t want to vote for a sure loser in Horner.

  6. Submitted by Mark Viste on 10/18/2010 - 06:10 pm.

    I don’t mind instant runoff. But I’d be equally satisfied with an ordinary runoff held a month later. I think that’s an easier sell, without the need to explain the funny math problems IRV can set up.

    But let’s not pretend that having claim to a majority of votes cast is going to alter the actual level of satisfaction people have with their officials. Plurality elections in Minnesota highlight the dissatisfaction people feel with their elected leaders. They in no way create that dissatisfaction.

  7. Submitted by Joe Musich on 10/18/2010 - 09:26 pm.

    So the strib does a three week Suday filled paperpalooza on the three candidates. So how many column inches on Horner as opposed to the others ? The third Sunday it’s going to be Dayton’s turn for the spotlight and what do they do but endorse Horner ? Humm ? Headline reading Born to Run and inside a poorly written defense of the endorsement. Born to Run intimating he’s only worth his inheritence. The 500 million spent in this election by the forces being protected by Citzens case is the real story on I’m afraid I can only rely on the Onion for honest information.

  8. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 10/18/2010 - 09:52 pm.

    My reaction to the whole ‘Strib endorsement was similar to Eric’s reaction to the statement in the endorsement about the “wasted vote” idea. I thought it was hortatory and lame.

    Minnesotans who think the ‘Strib is some sort of ultraliberal rag need to get out more. Apparently, they’ve never exposed to, or actually seen, a truly liberal newspaper. If they had, they’d know that the ‘Strib is not one.

  9. Submitted by John Windhorst on 10/19/2010 - 08:01 am.

    The Red Star label may be overboard but the paper’s bias is real. Their bias is not obvious in that they don’t publish things wrong but that they don’t publish anything opposing their views. The result is their readers get mislead without recognizing it.


    JohnW-Mtka

  10. Submitted by Jeff Michaels on 10/19/2010 - 08:37 am.

    Okay, I will bite. Which one of the six candidates mentioned is actually a Republican?

  11. Submitted by John Reinan on 10/19/2010 - 08:59 am.

    Amen, Ray. I’ve appreciated hearing your views, informed as they are by your experiences living in other cities.

    I read once that Minnesota has the highest percentage of residents, of any state, who were born here and have never lived anywhere else.

    I was born in Minnesota and lived here through college graduation. Then I moved away and came back 20 years later. I always think it would be good if more Minnesotans got away and came back. As you say, the “Red Star” label is just laughable to anyone who’s been outside Minnesota’s borders. Although the fact is, I have a hard time naming you a metropolitan newspaper that’s truly liberal any more.

  12. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 10/19/2010 - 09:27 am.

    I can’t remember the last time I read a Strib editorial. Even the titles are mediocre.

  13. Submitted by Steve Perry on 10/19/2010 - 11:40 am.

    Horner’s endorsement by the Strib is hardly surprising to anyone who’s read more than just the sport section and comics.

    Since the paper was sold in 2006, there has been a slow, but steady march to the editorial right. Few would place the Strib in the same column as the PiPress, but it is no longer the liberal paper it once was.

    That being said, this Governor’s race is just further evidence that ranked choice voting is becoming increasingly necessary for acceptable governance.

  14. Submitted by DeeAnn Christensen on 10/19/2010 - 01:48 pm.

    Unfortunately, I just heard on MPR that Mike Cirisi has endorsed Horner.

    Cynical I may be, but I wonder if this endorsement was made after this column came out saying, “The Strib overstated at least one case. Horner has not, as the editorial stated, “attracted an impressive list of bipartisan endorsements.” One or even two does not a list make.

    Could MinnPost and Eric Black have this much power?

    “…And so it goes”

  15. Submitted by William Pappas on 10/19/2010 - 10:06 pm.

    Eric, Horner is anything but a moderate. HE is a right wing republican. The only tax he likes is the regressive sales tax and he wants to eliminate corporate income tax and maintain tax cuts for the rich. He is the perfect politician for corporate CEO’s. Anything that’s good for corporations will play well with Horner. In this new age of republican and right wing candidates flush with corporate money laundered through mysterious grass roots organizations nobody has ever heard of, Horner has positioned himself to get a good share of that cash. He is even pimping for the Vikings to get public money. Horner is no moderate. The Strib definitely feels the grip of its new owner and has taken to stumping for its corporate supporters and advertisers by supporting right wing positions. Tice has won the editorial battle at the Strib hands down and even has you calling Horner the moderate.

  16. Submitted by John E Iacono on 10/20/2010 - 05:04 pm.

    So glad to hear from Mr. Pappas that corporations are for Horner.

    But it makes me wonder why they are putting so much money on Emmer then?

    As for Horner, all I have to do project having to listen to his voice for four years to know how I will vote in his regard.

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