Stunner: Minnesota’s 8th CD in play; Update: “Great news, not surprising”

posted at 1:00 pm on October 4, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

Or perhaps not so stunning, since Jim Oberstar has lived for almost 50 years in Washington DC rather than Minnesota’s 8th CD.  The working-class, union, and most importantly pro-life district in the northeastern part of the state has sent Oberstar to Congress for eighteen terms, and previous to that, Oberstar worked on Capitol Hill as a staffer since the Kennedy administration.  A new internal poll for Republican challenger Chip Cravaack puts the former Navy pilot and instructor into a virtual dead heat for the seat — and shows the voters in MN-08 ready for a change.

A polling memo from Public Opinion Strategies shows Oberstar in serious jeopardy of enforced retirement:

Congressman Jim Oberstar is obviously a well-known and popular figure in the 8th Congressional district, having held the seat since 1974. However, this survey indicates that this year, voters are ready to make a change. More voters prefer a new person (48%) than think Oberstar deserves re-election (40%). This sentiment is more pronounced among the voters who are up-for-grabs in November. Independents prefer a new person by 49%-35%, and among those who are undecided in the Congressional race want a new person by 50%-19%.

Further, when voters are informed that Oberstar is 76 years old and has worked in Congress for nearly 50 years as a Representative and a staffer, the preference for a new person climbs to 52%.

The survey shows Cravaack trailing Oberstar just three points, 42/45, within the poll’s margin of error.  Furthermore, the 45% showing for a long-term and heretofore popular incumbent is a big red flag for Democrats.  Oberstar has been a fixture in the Iron Range for decades and a towering political figure.  A failure to get to 50% four weeks before the election is a sign that those who know him best have lost confidence in his ability to represent them properly.  Even more stunning, Cravaack has an outright majority among those who show the highest enthusiasm for this election (52%).

The turning point probably came when Oberstar not only defied his proclaimed attachment to pro-life principles and voted for ObamaCare, but when he actively lobbied members of the Bart Stupak caucus to do the same.  His claims to moderation and independence vanished with that vote and linked him inextricably with the radical agenda of Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama — and that’s a bad turn of events in MN-08.  Obama has a 40% approval rating in this district after winning it in 2008 with 53% of the vote, and Pelosi’s is a scant 27%.  Having hitched his star to those wagons, it’s small wonder that Oberstar finds it in a ditch, to borrow one of our President’s favorite metaphors.

If Democrats lose MN-08, they may lose MN-07 (R+, incumbent Democrat Colin Peterson) and perhaps MN-01 (R+1, incumbent Democrat Tim Walz) as well.  Neither of those incumbents have the political clout or history of Oberstar, and their constituencies are similar to Oberstar’s MN-08 (D+3) — rural, conservative, and probably very angry with the direction that their representatives have taken.

I’ll be on a conference call with the Cravaack campaign at noon CT, and will update this post with the highlights.

Update: Cravaack calls this “great news, but not surprising.”  He has been doing a lot of retail politicking, and he hears that constituents really want change.  “Oberstar has lost touch with us.”  With messaging, Cravaack says those numbers change to a 47/41 lead for Cravaack.  ObamaCare is less of an issue than cap-and-trade, according to Chip’s analysis, which makes sense in this mining district.

The poll started off by asking voters to choose one of the candidates, and then walked through the messaging.  This is important, because otherwise that first number — the 42/45 — would have been a result from a push poll.  The polling is therefore more reliable on the first number than potentially in the second, but it’s the first number that the campaign is highlighting.

I asked Chip whether this poll would mean that he would get more national assistance, but Chip says he really doesn’t need it.  The local organization has done a great job so far and that he has a ground game ready to go.  Another questioner says that the DCCC may descend on the district to rescue Oberstar through a huge negative attack-ad campaign, and that Chip may need the assistance from the NRCC to fend it off.  Chip would prefer to be seen as a local candidate with local activists, but notes that the bloggers on the call are all outside of his district, too.  “Bloggers rule,” he said with a laugh.


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CONAN!

greggriffith on October 4, 2010 at 1:03 PM

Many more will fall that are “STUNNING”…the wave is rolling and with all waves it gains steam. AND obama and the dems will keep talking…that will make the wave pick up more velocity.

winston on October 4, 2010 at 1:04 PM

Stunner….not so much. Welcome to the new political reality.

PatriotRider on October 4, 2010 at 1:04 PM

I just don’t see it happening. It would be nice, but…

The closest race he’s ever had was 59-30 back in ’92.

If Democrats lose MN-08, they may lose MN-07 (R+, incumbent Democrat Colin Peterson) and perhaps MN-01 (R+1, incumbent Democrat Tim Walz) as well.

If they lose MN-08, they have bigger things to worry about than MN-07 and MN-01.

Abby Adams on October 4, 2010 at 1:06 PM

I’ll believe it when it happens. Blue collar Dems always cave at last minute and vote their normal pattern. They just continue to buy into the usual class warfare crap every election.

Hummer53 on October 4, 2010 at 1:06 PM

Man, I’m like y’know freakin’ out or something. Maybe the Dems can break off a li’l sum sum of that $16mil to help out Obers.

Christien on October 4, 2010 at 1:07 PM

I have been on many fishing trips to the BWCA, which I believe is locateed in this district. Just based on anectodal evidence (conversations with locals) I have always thought this area was quite conservative.

I am starting to think a 100+ seat pickup is possible.

Norwegian on October 4, 2010 at 1:07 PM

GET OUT – he’s like a lock every two years.

The fact that there is even this conversation is stunning.

gophergirl on October 4, 2010 at 1:08 PM

You see, Jim, there are sinkers, and there are floaters. You’re a sinker.

AubieJon on October 4, 2010 at 1:08 PM

Joe Walsh IL-8th is even or ahead of Melissa Bean in the latest survey. Another “safe” seat down the tubes…and she is labeled a “Blue Dog”….so Oberstar is no surprise.

PatriotRider on October 4, 2010 at 1:09 PM

It seems oberstar is the poster child for term limits!
L

letget on October 4, 2010 at 1:09 PM

The 8th has extended further and further toward the Twin Cities exurbs as the Range has lost population. While the Range and Duluth may vote heavily in favor of Oberspend the rest of the district isn’t in the bag.

Craavack also seems to be an outstanding candidate.

jpmn on October 4, 2010 at 1:10 PM

YESSSS!!!! The Iron Range of Minnesota is one of those regions where voting habits and party ID have been lagging behind political reality.

Oberstar is an old-school porker, nothing more. He’s been elected time after time to bring federal dollars beck to this blue-collar region. These people aren’t liberals, and definitely not Leftist radicals, yet Oberstar votes with the Leftist radicals. Every. Single. Time.

Good on the people of the North. And it bears noting that without the Iron Range, Minnesota almost assuredly flips from a blue state to a red one. Oberstar’s district puts the Dems over the top here. Without them reliably voting Dem, Minnesota is in play in all national elections.

IronDioPriest on October 4, 2010 at 1:10 PM

Now that who the Democrats are is plain for all to see, it boils down to this: you vote for them and are without excuse — you stand shoulder to shoulder with tyranny .

No Democrat from any congressional district anywhere should therefore be elected or reelected on Nov. 2.

FlameWarrior on October 4, 2010 at 1:10 PM

200 SEAT CONSERVATIVE PICKUP OR BUST!!!!

PappyD61 on October 4, 2010 at 1:11 PM

Maybe Oberstar can find another place to build an unnecessary bridge, or a walking path, or a bike lane; it’s the only thing he likes to do.

Bishop on October 4, 2010 at 1:12 PM

That 16 mil from the DNC is gonna get used up in a hurry.

Defending “safe” seats.

Heh.

Bat Chain Puller on October 4, 2010 at 1:13 PM

Now if we can do something about Betty McCollum in MN-4.

Mr. D on October 4, 2010 at 1:15 PM

I have been on many fishing trips to the BWCA, which I believe is locateed in this district. Just based on anectodal evidence (conversations with locals) I have always thought this area was quite conservative.

I am starting to think a 100+ seat pickup is possible.

Norwegian on October 4, 2010 at 1:07 PM

Look at the size of the 8th district here:
http://www.govtrack.us/congress/findyourreps.xpd?state=MN

Around Duluth, it’s very liberal, but the further you get away from Duluth, the more conservative it gets.

RBMN on October 4, 2010 at 1:16 PM

200 SEAT CONSERVATIVE PICKUP OR BUST!!!!

PappyD61 on October 4, 2010 at 1:11 PM

Wouldn’t that be extraordinary!!!

Key West Reader on October 4, 2010 at 1:17 PM

The gales of November come early on Lake Superior this year?

forest on October 4, 2010 at 1:17 PM

Oberstar – Obama – Pelosi

Pound it into the voters’ heads.

Obermelosi

Jaibones on October 4, 2010 at 1:18 PM

Maybe Oberstar can find another place to build an unnecessary bridge, or a walking path, or a bike lane; it’s the only thing he likes to do.

Bishop on October 4, 2010 at 1:12 PM

LOL… I was up in St. Augustine awhile back and saw a Wreckovery.gov sign and it was proudly displaying a brand new 400′ asphalt road that was cut through some palm trees and ends at…
Wait for it…

More palm trees.

Key West Reader on October 4, 2010 at 1:18 PM

The gales of November come early on Lake Superior this year?

forest on October 4, 2010 at 1:17 PM

The Witch of November.

Jaibones on October 4, 2010 at 1:19 PM

The turning point probably came when Oberstar not only defied his proclaimed attachment to pro-life principles and voted for ObamaCare, but when he actively lobbied members of the Bart Stupak caucus to do the same.

Vashta.Nerada on October 4, 2010 at 1:19 PM

Payback. According to a post over at NRO, during the Obamcare votes, it was Oberstar who went around the House floor, picking off the Stupak pro-life coalition one-by-one, one by one, until Stupak himself caved.

Pelosi would have had someone else do it if Oberstar hadn’t, but Oberstar apparently peeled off the votes by saying they could stay pro-life and vote for Obamacare with the executive order, rather than sticking with the Stupak Amendment.

Wethal on October 4, 2010 at 1:21 PM

Obamacare’s passage really pissed alot of people off. Democrats had all the warning they needed to avoid killing their party yet they chose to seize power instead because Americans have always just sort of went along with whatever DC seemed to think was necessary. Not This Time.

Mord on October 4, 2010 at 1:22 PM

The Colorado governor contest is also interesting. Check out the realclearpolitics Colorado Governor poll
The graph shows that Maes is hemorrhaging badly since it was revealed that he misrepresented his law enforcement experience in Kansas during the 1980s. Denver Post survey has Maes down to 15%. Tancredo is shooting up.

scrubjay on October 4, 2010 at 1:22 PM

Obermelosi

Jaibones on October 4, 2010 at 1:18 PM

Isn’t that the meat in the deli counter with all the nasty looking stuff inside?

TugboatPhil on October 4, 2010 at 1:27 PM

Oberstar – Obama – Pelosi

Pound it into the voters’ heads.

Obermelosi

Jaibones on October 4, 2010 at 1:18 PM

The first thing I saw was that it also spells O-O-P-s!

AubieJon on October 4, 2010 at 1:28 PM

Now if we can do something about Betty McCollum in MN-4.

Mr. D on October 4, 2010 at 1:15 PM

And that pesky Ellison who I’ll never get rid of.

gophergirl on October 4, 2010 at 1:36 PM

How about an ad with a family driving in a snowstorm with the tank running near empty. They push the Oberstar button for direction assistance to the nearest station and are told to make repeated left turns. Zoom out and up to show the family driving in a circle. Fade to “Don’t” or another D-word with the D inside the circle.

Christien on October 4, 2010 at 1:38 PM

Then there’s MN-5……….

wright on October 4, 2010 at 1:46 PM

Oberstar is an old-school porker, nothing more. He’s been elected time after time to bring federal dollars beck to this blue-collar region. These people aren’t liberals, and definitely not Leftist radicals, yet Oberstar votes with the Leftist radicals. Every. Single. Time.

IronDioPriest on October 4, 2010 at 1:10 PM

Sounds just like Murtha’s CD in Western Pennsylvania. And, sadly, I predict the results will be the same. These Democrats just won’t vote any other way.

jwolf on October 4, 2010 at 1:48 PM

These polls are all very interesting but since this is Mn. someone had better poll the grave yards to see what the swing voters think. Big Al knew exactly how to approach them last time by promising new flowers and neatly trimmed plots.

inspectorudy on October 4, 2010 at 1:52 PM

I am losing track of all these surprisingly close races..perhaps the site needs to do a consolidation so folk can see what is in play..

JIMV on October 4, 2010 at 1:58 PM

200 SEAT CONSERVATIVE PICKUP OR BUST!!!!
PappyD61 on October 4, 2010 at 1:11 PM

I’ll see your 200 and raise you 235.

I call a 435-conservative-seat pick-up or bust.

FlameWarrior on October 4, 2010 at 2:01 PM

It’s interesting and appalling how many DC pols are Jurassic spawn (Oberstar, Pelosi, Reid, Kerry, the late Ted Kennedy, McCain, Castle ….), born in the heyday of FDR. No wonder they are out of touch with mainstream America- aka: The Tea Party-, having lived in the DC bubble, or hobnobbed with those who do, for decade, upon decade … upon decade, after being born and coming of age in a time that is now AFH. The JFK adminstration? That’s half a century in DC. That’s amazing when you stop and think about it. Half a century! That’s like a millenium in human terms. These are OLD PEOPLE, in the worst sense(s) of the word/term and stuck in their ways. They all must go. Along with their progeny. ALL of them. Now! No wonder they love Barry so much, he’s ‘their child’ with his retro statist policies and mind set.

I say all this as a Baby Boomer who admitedly is old too, but these pols have not remained mentally flexible and open to new ideas and facts which is possible if you continue to learn and exercise your gray matter.

Thanks, Ed. It’s clear to me now. I should have seen this sooner. I guess my age is catching up to me. I need even more gray matter exercise than I’ve been doing. It doesn’t seem like fifty years since JFK was in office to me, but I’ve been busy and not counting the years. Don’t vote for me if I lose my mind and try for office, I’m too darn OLD.

JimP on October 4, 2010 at 2:02 PM

Sounds just like Murtha’s CD in Western Pennsylvania. And, sadly, I predict the results will be the same. These Democrats just won’t vote any other way.

jwolf on October 4, 2010 at 1:48 PM

Burns has a good shot at knocking off Critz this time. We’ll see, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see vestigal union-Democrat porker districts flipping this time.

forest on October 4, 2010 at 2:05 PM

There are no principled Demrats when it comes to abortion, gov’t spending, entitlements, pork, or ballot box stuffing!

They have shown us this year after year and time after time.

Minnesooota? Please the midwest of fruits and nuts, Freakin Frankin, the governator wrestler dude, the absentee ballot box car trunk counting, they lie they cheat and they steal other peoples money.

I’ll believe these dems will get real when I see it. For the Catholics its Party over Principles!

Don’t count on the Dems to save us take two or three like minded previously unengaged to the polls with you and get absentee ballots for those who won’t go. Its’ not hard I’ve gotten three absentees and three to go now my vote counts for 7!

Prove me wrong Minniesoota!

dhunter on October 4, 2010 at 2:06 PM

I’ll see your 200 and raise you 235.

I call a 435-conservative-seat pick-up or bust.

FlameWarrior on October 4, 2010 at 2:01 PM

I call your 435 and raise you the 33 20ish seats up for grabs in the Senate

PappyD61 on October 4, 2010 at 2:06 PM

Indeed, it looks to me like this feeble doofus Oberstar has exceeded his usefulness in congress. The voters are not in a good mood and it would be nice to see Republicans reestablished by clearing out the dead wood.

Keep the faith as the democrats, who are deep in denial, prepare for the flood at the voting booth the first week in November. It is with glee that I say the liberals goose is cooked.

It will be a hoot to greet Cravaack to congress on the heels of a big conservative sweep.

pain train on October 4, 2010 at 2:10 PM

Thanks, Ed. It’s clear to me now. I should have seen this sooner. I guess my age is catching up to me. I need even more gray matter exercise than I’ve been doing. It doesn’t seem like fifty years since JFK was in office to me, but I’ve been busy and not counting the years. Don’t vote for me if I lose my mind and try for office, I’m too darn OLD.

JimP on October 4, 2010 at 2:02 PM

Its the 60′s hippies that have sold us out as the aging socialists in their last gasp to remain relevant have grabbed onto an American Hating Black Liberation Theorist and tried to fulfill their lifetime dreams of fair, free and kum-bi-ya socialist government. They should have to end their miserable lives at the hands of Obamacares DEATH PANELS!
Take away their lifetime pensions and their healthcare and make them use the same system the rest of us have to use….. they set it up and stole the funds from it!

dhunter on October 4, 2010 at 2:12 PM

Sorry Ed, but no frickkin’ way does Oberstar lose.

The Range and the Shore offset the more conservative western part of the district.

Maybe, just maybe, Oberstar gets as little as 55%.

I’m willing to bet my Ranger bonafide’s on this.

If I’m wrong I’ll change my nick to Bruno Packsacker.

(FYI, a packsacker is the lowest of the low on Da Range.)

Bruno Strozek on October 4, 2010 at 2:15 PM

Wish we could get rid of blue dog Jim Cooper in TN-5. There’s a good conservative running against him, but just no name recognition.

TennesseeRed on October 4, 2010 at 2:19 PM

Boy I wish I was in a district that had a chance.Lucky me, I’m in Lynn Woolseys district. She’s gonna be in that seat until the day she dies. She’s a complete idiot.

sandee on October 4, 2010 at 2:23 PM

I have intimate contact with some voters in this district and I believe the numbers, in fact I would say in my informal non-sciencey impression that it is much more positive for Chip that these number indicate.

One of these voters notes that Chairman Oberstar has huge billboards up on the I-35 corridor this year. In past years only some random farmers had homemade DFL posters up in their I-35 adjacent fields.

In a stunning lack of insight the Oberstar people managed to secure a billboard for their guy right next to one of the “Obama shredding the Constitution” billboards.

Sinner on October 4, 2010 at 2:23 PM

sandee,

I lived in that district a long time ago (Rohnert Park) and remember the election where Ms. Woolsey almost lost to a dead guy.

Don’t give up hope!

Sinner on October 4, 2010 at 2:25 PM

scrubjay on October 4, 2010 at 1:22 PM,

Tancredo is pro pot legalization.

http://coloradoindependent.com/62723/tancredo-calls-for-legalizing-marijuana

I think that is going to be the next big issue. And I think the small government types can ride it to victory. Because Ds talk a good game and then do nothing. Cons minds are hard to change. But once they do they are all in.

MSimon on October 4, 2010 at 2:26 PM

Sounds just like Murtha’s CD in Western Pennsylvania. And, sadly, I predict the results will be the same. These Democrats just won’t vote any other way.

jwolf on October 4, 2010 at 1:48 PM

That is always my thought when I see this kind of polling data. Dems may say they want change, but then get in the voting booth and vote for the corrupt socialist as they always do.

angryed on October 4, 2010 at 2:28 PM

Its the 60′s hippies that have sold us out as the aging socialists

This hippie was totally in for Palin. Still am. Proud member of the libertarian wing of the R Party. Until something better comes along.

http://powerandcontrol.blogspot.com/2008/11/window-stickers-hippies-for-mccain.html

MSimon on October 4, 2010 at 2:31 PM

dhunter on October 4, 2010 at 2:12 PM

Now, I LIKE this kind of mandate. Great idea! Can we add tar and feather therapy to it? Maybe a gold plated mandate that includes tar and feathers but also a rail, horse whipping and “adequate” time in the stocks for the populace to hurl rotten veggies etc at thes offenders?

JimP on October 4, 2010 at 2:34 PM

Most of my family is from Hibbing or Virginia and I’ve lived most of my life in Duluth. I’ve got a pretty good read on this election and I’ve been posting this for a few months now so trust me, Cravaack is leading and WILL WIN come November.

Nelsen on October 4, 2010 at 4:02 PM

Nelsen on October 4, 2010 at 4:02 PM

Hope your right.

Make it happen, get as many to the polls as you can who think the same way and bury the curroptocrat liars!

dhunter on October 4, 2010 at 4:04 PM

That is always my thought when I see this kind of polling data. Dems may say they want change, but then get in the voting booth and vote for the corrupt socialist as they always do.

angryed on October 4, 2010 at 2:28 PM

I really think this year is different. I believe that even long-time Dem voters can see that hope was an illusion and the change has been a lie or change for the worse. Yes, there will always be those who vote Dem like zombies, but they aren’t the whole of the party. With energized Republicans, pissed-off Independents and disillusioned Dems…who knows.

Extrafishy on October 4, 2010 at 4:36 PM

Boy I wish I was in a district that had a chance.Lucky me, I’m in Lynn Woolseys district. She’s gonna be in that seat until the day she dies. She’s a complete idiot.

sandee on October 4, 2010 at 2:23 PM

Don’t give up, Sandee! No Democrat seat is safe in 2010! And the Bay Area Patriots (a powerful group of Tea Partiers!) have been doing a great job of introducing Conservatism to Woolsey’s district!

Jim Judd is the Republican candidate who is running against Democrat Rep. Lynn Woolsey in California.

Check out Jim Judd’s campaign website here:
http://www.jimjuddforcongress.com/

Jim Judd has a list of campaign events listed on his website that are happening every day where you can help Jim to defeat Lynn Woolsey!

wren on October 4, 2010 at 5:03 PM

Now if we can do something about Betty McCollum in MN-4.

Mr. D on October 4, 2010 at 1:15 PM

All we gotta do is vote for Teresa Collett! And cough up some bucks. And volunteer. No kidding, she is an excellent candidate, and this is the year!

2ipa on October 4, 2010 at 5:51 PM

I’ve personally known Chip since 1977; he’s a great guy and would make a terrific Congressman!!

Khun Joe on October 4, 2010 at 10:47 PM

It’s interesting and appalling how many DC pols are Jurassic spawn (Oberstar, Pelosi, Reid, Kerry, the late Ted Kennedy, McCain, Castle ….), born in the heyday of FDR. No wonder they are out of touch with mainstream America- aka: The Tea Party-, having lived in the DC bubble, or hobnobbed with those who do, for decade, upon decade … upon decade, after being born and coming of age in a time that is now AFH. The JFK adminstration? That’s half a century in DC. That’s amazing when you stop and think about it. Half a century! That’s like a millenium in human terms. These are OLD PEOPLE, in the worst sense(s) of the word/term and stuck in their ways. They all must go. Along with their progeny. ALL of them. Now! No wonder they love Barry so much, he’s ‘their child’ with his retro statist policies and mind set.

JimP on October 4, 2010 at 2:02 PM

I was 10 when JFK was shot, which makes me old. These alter cockers were already grownups then and some were already politicians. Wow. I hadn’t thought about it that way. Eeuuuwww. Get them outa there!

YehuditTX on October 5, 2010 at 1:11 AM