The Tom Horner campaign has put out an email to supporters describing Horner’s path to victory. It’s even titled “The Path.”
I’ll append the full text of it below. It needs to be taken as pure campaign propaganda like any other ad or flyer put out by a campaign or a speech by the candidate. Horner knows that one of his most vital tasks, especially with polls continuing to show him running a fairly distant third, is to reassure supporters and potential supporters that there is a path to victory. In the case of this email, he is essentially arguing that his Republican opponent, state Rep. Tom Emmer, is the one who has no path to victory.
The implications of the email are consistent with the last conversation I had with Horner about how he hoped to break through.
The interesting thing to me is that Horner told me (and the email supports this angle) that the key moment for him will come when Republicans decide that Emmer can’t win, and then Horner becomes the only vehicle by which the center and right of the electorate can prevent Mark Dayton from becoming governor.
I don’t have a quote to that effect. We were just chatting after a debate in which I had spent the last embarrassing minutes on my hands and knees looking for my cell phone. (I had left it in the car.) So I wasn’t taking notes. But as I walked away, it struck me as a shift from the conventional wisdom that Horner’s only path was to form a broad coalition of voters who felt Dayton was too far left, Emmer was too far right and who bought the Horner pitch that all kinds of great policies were sitting in the middle of the spectrum.
I’m skeptical, for several reasons. One is that a lot of members of Emmer’s base cannot consider Horner because of his positions on abortion and gay rights, and others consider him a traitor to what has become the fundamental Republican cause of No New Taxes.
But it’s possible that Horner sincerely believes that this is his path, which might help explain why Horner and Emmer have been arguing with each other more during recent debates than either of them has been arguing with Dayton.
The email also claims — based on the results of an internal, unpublished Horner poll the details or even existence of which I have not verified — that Dayton, not Emmer, is the second choice of most current Horner supporters. If true — and this may be one of the subtle arguments the email is making to Republicans — then Emmer can’t win by driving voters away from Horner.
(Of course, Emmer is trying to drive away from Horner only those voters whose second choice would be Emmer. He does that by arguing that since Dayton and Emmer both propose new taxes, they represent the same alternative and only he, Emmer, is a choice for no-new-taxers. Dayton likewise, and especially his allies in the DFL, try to frame the llineup as a choice between one Democrat and two pro-business Republicans.)
Enough. Here’s the text of the email:
“Dear Horner Volunteers:
In recent weeks our campaign paid to commission a carefully researched poll of the true Minnesota electorate. What we found encouraged us. September polling had universally shown our campaign gaining momentum as the other candidates stagnated or began to fall back. We wanted to learn more.
Different polls use different methodologies, and all must be taken in stride. As all candidates acknowledge, and as Minnesota gubernatorial history suggests, even polling two weeks out from the election has been an unreliable predictor in an unpredictable state.
But what we found encouraged our staff. Nineteen percent of likely voters already supported Horner to 38 percent for DFLer Mark Dayton and 27 percent for GOP candidate Tom Emmer. Fifteen percent of Minnesotans remained undecided. Given the bases each candidate entered the race with, we were pleased with the momentum. However, the next round of questioning also showed a clear path forward. An extremely high number of Dayton supporters and a significant share of Emmer supporters were willing to support Horner instead. Enough to win in November.
More than 40 percent of Dayton’s supporters were not wedded to their candidate, with the vast majority of those voters already indicating they would move to Horner. While none of Rep. Emmer’s support indicated it would be willing to vote Dayton, many would be willing to vote for Horner. It is why you have seen or heard two important things in the last week. First, liberal independent groups supporting Mark Dayton are now spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to smear Tom Horner. Second, Rep. Emmer’s own campaign manager told MPR’s Cathy Wurzer that in the end it would be a tight three-person race.
There are also Horner supporters worried about wasting their vote. They too would consider another candidate. But contrary to the fearful narrative being put forth by the Republican party, those supporters would not help the GOP defeat Mark Dayton. Those Horner supporters, our polling found, would break to Dayton by more than a two-to-one ratio. The Star Tribune also found that more votes would break to Dayton than Emmer.
Our poll showed what we suspected. Either Dayton wins or Horner wins. Rep. Emmer has not been able to hold on to Republicans, has not been able to win over independents, and is simply not an electable statewide candidate.
We see a glimpse of that in House District 32B, just highlighted by Republican analyst Scott Johnson at Powerline. It showed Tom Emmer running far behind where his Republican predecessors have previously polled in the heavily Republican district. Too far behind to indicate success.
It is the reason why Rep. Emmer, confronted with similarly sophisticated polling, has spent the last two weeks rallying his base across the state while declining to participate in important and substantive forums with the Alexandria Economic Development Commission, the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits, the Minnesota Environmental Partnership, the League of Minnesota Cities, Minnesota Ready 4 K and St. Catherine University. They are not the base he has run back to. Rep. Emmer is speaking to the base that will indeed vote for him. It is a base comprised of Palin-Bachmann Republicans and not the broad audience of Minnesotans that can move our state forward. How can we expect the standard bearer of a party to lead our state if he refuses to acknowledge that his party’s chair was wrong to condemn an opponent’s supporters to hell?
When Minnesotans go to the polls on November 2, there will be three fine men on the ballot. But the vast majority of those voters will be choosing between two of them. I am confident that they will find Tom Horner, and not Mark Dayton, best equipped to lead Minnesota during these next four years. Over the next two weeks you will hear from a broad cross section of Minnesotans who will publicly say the same thing.”
The last paragraph of the email is a solicitation for funds and support that wouldn’t be appropriate to publish here. The email is signed by Horner’s campaign manager, Stephen Imholte