Larry Sabato upgrades his rating of McFadden’s chances

Meanwhile, back in Horseraceland:

University of Virginia Political Scientist Larry Sabato, one of the nationally prominent handicappers of political races and head honcho of “Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball,” has changed his rating of the Minnesota Senate from “likely Democratic” to “leans Democratic.” In Sabato’s system, a “lean” rating is one step short of a toss-up.

This puts Sabato, for the moment, out of line and slightly more favorable about Republican endorsee McFadden’s chance of defeating incumbent Dem. Sen. Al Franken than most of the other race-raters. You can read his analysis here. (Scroll down to where he calls Minnesota “The Sleeper.”)

In his writeup, Sabato acknowledges that there is no polling to really justify the ratings change, but I can tell you that there’s a bit of buzz in the universe of the politically-obsessed that the Minnesota race will tighten up. Sabato makes a few points that were already obvious: Franken won last time by the tiniest of margins; Minnesota isn’t as solidly blue, especially outside of presidential voting, as most of the country tends to think; McFadden is positioning himself as a moderate. He concludes:

“Franken is still the favorite, given his gigantic war chest and the power of incumbency, but McFadden appears to be positioned to run a moderate-conservative campaign that could allow him to compete with Franken while not alienating his base.

It may seem odd, given polling and conventional wisdom, to give Democrats better ratings in Michigan and New Hampshire than Minnesota, but if there’s a race this year that develops late, we think it might be here.”

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Comments (15)

  1. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 07/24/2014 - 09:47 am.

    The big ad

    McFadden should wait until this fall when skyrocketing insurance premiums put Obamacare and MNsure back in the news again and then hit the airwaves with the ad with Franken saying on the floor of the senate “People who are happy with their current plan wouldn’t need to change it” which we now know was a blatant lie to get Obama elected.

    • Submitted by jason myron on 07/24/2014 - 01:01 pm.

      Since the CBO

      completely dismantled the GOP misinformation campaign, I suppose this is all you have left, Dennis…the hope that premiums will “skyrocket.” In the meantime, we’ll just file this with the rest of your failed prognostications. The irony of any conservative accusing someone else of lying however, is too delicious to ignore.

  2. Submitted by Joe Musich on 07/24/2014 - 10:46 am.

    That is what ..

    and activiist court will give the electorate! But it is activism you favor Tester so why mention it, hey ?

  3. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 07/24/2014 - 10:58 am.

    ….there is no polling to really justify the ratings change, but I can tell you that there’s a bit of buzz in the universe of the politically-obsessed that the Minnesota race will tighten up….

    Gosh, would we be talking about Sabato’s predictive powers if he didn’t pull that out of his “rear pocket” at this time? Maybe Sabato is just feeling lonely right now.

    Candidates after endorsement and with a pocket full of big money certainly rate higher that un-endorsed, poor candidates (Ole ?)

    • Submitted by jason myron on 07/24/2014 - 12:20 pm.


      if these political wonks weren’t pulling this stuff out of their “rear pockets” to keep things interesting and encouraging click baits to their blogs, there would be no reason for their existence. In actuality, if you look at all the races, the repubs are pretty worried. In their minds they should have been running away with some of these races, but dems are hanging tough. There will be no 2010 sweep this November. They might pick up a few seats, but I’m rather confident that they won’t grab the senate. Tester and company are completely dismissing the pent up anger on the left, from women in particular. The reality is, if the democrats show up and vote, republicans lose.

      • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 07/24/2014 - 09:43 pm.

        Right; nothin to see here folks, keep walking.

        It’s amusing to witness such blind optimism.

        • Submitted by jason myron on 07/25/2014 - 10:15 am.

          and nobody knows the disappointment

          of blind optimism more than the party that continues to lose elections while watching their demographic get smaller and smaller.

  4. Submitted by Ron Gotzman on 07/24/2014 - 11:31 am.

    Remember – AL works for you!…Remember…

    Those “big issue, hard hitting” ads that mention all the “accomplishments” of Al Franken will make the difference for a McFadden win.

    AL may even be a “moderate debt hawk?” Eric Black loves those “moderate debt hawks”

  5. Submitted by Raj Maddali on 07/24/2014 - 11:55 am.

    Al Franken a Progressive ? Really, Really

    You can call me Al….
    You can call me AIPAC Al….
    For i am their pal….
    Oh no not those Pals….

    For my progressiveness is for show…
    For the feel good chats and Wine and Cheese to follow…

    The rest of u Muslims and minorities…
    I’ll give u plenty of nicities…
    But nothing to show…

  6. Submitted by Matt Haas on 07/24/2014 - 12:02 pm.

    Crystal Ball indeed

    I would think its hard to determine that McFadden is running as a “moderate conservative”, especially considering that McFadden has no idea of his own position on virtually every topic of relevance to the voting public. Perhaps Mr. Sabato has some inside knowledge he’d care to share?

  7. Submitted by Mike Worcester on 07/24/2014 - 12:30 pm.

    More than 50%

    With the exception of Amy Kloubachar in 2010, when is the last time a U.S. Senate candidate in Minnesota won with more than 50% of the vote? Not Franken. Not Coleman. Not Dayton. A good number of our recent statewide elections have seen winners with less than 50%. So would it not make sense that rating this race as an easy win for the incumbent a bit premature?

  8. Submitted by RB Holbrook on 07/24/2014 - 12:31 pm.

    Positioning himself as a moderate?

    Mr. McFadden has not enunciated any clear stand on any issues, except some vague conservative boilerplate. His campaign is just showing him as a clean-cut suburban dad–the guy in your cul-de-sac.

    Is that all it takes to be a “moderate” in the Republican world today? Don’t talk about the Bible, don’t brandish a gun, and wear Dockers instead of a cardboard tricorn. His positions can be the same conservative lunacy espoused by any tea partying crackpot, but because he cleans up tolerably well, we’ll call him a “moderate.”

    Either the standard for moderation is too low, or “moderate” is still the most over- and misused word in the political lexicon.

  9. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 07/25/2014 - 09:43 am.


    …to Matt Haas and RB Holbrook. “Moderate conservative” is largely an oxymoronic term in recent years, and since Mr. McFadden doesn’t seem to know what his positions are – or the consequences to the rest of us from whatever those positions might be – it’s difficult to tell if he’s genuinely conservative at all, or simply a tool of his party’s lunatic fringe.

    I liked the Al Franken of “Lies, and the Lying Liars…” much better than the current version, who is far too comfortable with the “Senate as Country Club,” but Mr. McFadden would simply make that worse, not better, and the boilerplate he’s spouted so far tells us only that he doesn’t quite understand some of the issues, or the questions about them. “Wealthy businessman joins ‘World’s Most Exclusive Club'” is a script that’s been written far too often, especially in the past half-century.

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