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Mr. Dilettante: Ways to interpret MPR gubernatorial poll

While it’s always problematic to look at polls before Labor Day, the latest from Minnesota Public Radio on the governor’s race shows a dead heat between Tom Emmer and Mark Dayton. Both have the support of 34%, with Tom Horner checking in at 13% and 19% not offering an answer.

You can look at this a number of ways. Here are a few things I’d suggest:

  • Dayton and his minions (and I would include Matt Entenza in that collection) have spent millions of dollars demonizing Tom Emmer all summer long, with very little response from the Emmer camp. If the best they are able to do is get a tie, that doesn’t bode well for Dayton.
  • There’s no point in pretending that Emmer’s campaign hasn’t had a few hiccups up to this point. The tip credit flap was an unforced error and he’s been slow to respond to some of the calumnies that have been heaped upon him thus far. While it’s good to see him starting to respond now, his passivity has been puzzling and often maddening. It’s not what we saw in the primary.
  • The current economic conditions in Minnesota aren’t as dire as they are in, say, Nevada, which has allowed Dayton to run the sort of campaign that would have been laughed off elsewhere. That could change, though. One thing worth remembering is that many voters will start seeing the first fruits of Obamacare in October, when they get the bad news about their insurance premiums going up. That won’t help the standard-bearer of the party that is responsible for these increases.
  • Some observers think that Horner will be a big factor, but I’m not convinced of that. He has the same problem that Jesse Ventura has: even if he could get elected, he’d have no friends in St. Paul and would have very little ability to move the debate. While it’s been nearly a decade since ol’ Jesse was in office, there are enough Minnesotans who remember what that was like and won’t relish a repeat.

This post was written by Mark Heuring and originally published on Mr. Dilettante’s Neighborhood.

Comments (4)

  1. Submitted by Brian Simon on 09/01/2010 - 11:14 am.

    Rep Emmer’s ads call for a change, but with the Governorship currently held by the GOP & Emmer’s campaign offering Pawlentyism without the claim of moderation, isn’t Emmer arguing against his own candidacy? In my book, the change we need is less Pawlentyism, not more of it.

  2. Submitted by Erik Hare on 09/01/2010 - 12:09 pm.

    Eh, forget the polls. The deal for the DFL is that they need to turn out about 1.1M voters for their side to equal the very stable number of votes that Republicans have been garnering for the last 20 years.

    This election, like 4 of the last 5, will be more about GOTV more than anything.

    Percentages don’t mean much when you look at it that way. Energy is what counts. That’s where Dayton has a serious problem.

  3. Submitted by Mark Heuring on 09/01/2010 - 12:46 pm.


    I guess that would depend on how one defines “Pawlentyism.” From what I gather, Emmer gives credit to Pawlenty for holding the line against the DFL. Presumably Emmer’s goal would be to do more than that. We’ll find out more in the next few weeks, I’d wager.


    I agree with you about energy. The polls are useful in a limited way for gauging the energy in question.

  4. Submitted by Richard Schulze on 09/01/2010 - 11:44 pm.

    I think the poll says more about the two major party candidates than anything else. It could it be that both Emmer and Dayton are too polarizing to the more moderate DFL and GOP voters? The number of undecideds says it all.

    One thing is certain, this race will be tighter than the belt on Tony Sutton’s pants.

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