Franken, Dayton lead cut to single digits in MN

posted at 2:01 pm on June 13, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

And now, a word on the midterms from Minnesota — where Republicans haven’t won a statewide election since Tim Pawlenty eked out a 22,000 vote win for re-election in 2006. Thanks to a deliberate strategy to keep his head down and stay serious, Al Franken has looked like a lock for re-election, helped in no small part by disarray in the state GOP organization. Mark Dayton has had a rockier time in Minnesota but also looked formidable in his re-election campaign. According to a new Survey USA poll, though, both incumbents find themselves below 50% in election polling, and Republican challengers within single digits:

Gov. Mark Dayton and Sen. Al Franken survived recounts when they won their first elections to the governor’s office and U.S. Senate. According to our latest KSTP/SurveyUSA poll, they might have to sweat our close races again in 2014. Franken clings to a six-point lead over his closest Republican challenger Mike McFadden, 48 percent to 42 percent. The poll has a margin of sampling error of +/- 3.1 percent.

“This poll is a cannon burst into the Minnesota U.S. Senate race,” says political science professor Larry Jacobs of the University of Minnesota Humphrey Institute.  Jacobs says if the race remains close it will attract millions in outside campaign money.  Franken has a larger lead over another potential challenger, state Representative Jim Abeler. Franken leads Abeler by nine points, 48 percent to 39 percent. “The fact that even Jim Abeler is only nine points behind Al Franken indicates there appears to be a solid base of opposition to Al Franken,” says Jacobs.

Governor Dayton also faces a potentially close re-election bid.  He also leads his nearest competitor by just six points.  The GOP-endorsed candidate for governor, Jeff Johnson, trails Dayton 46% to 40%.  Dayton leads former House Speaker Kurt Zellers by seven points, 46 percent to 39 percent.  Former House Minority Leader Marty Seifert is eight points back (46 percent-38 percent) and businessman Scott Honour is ten points back (47 percent-37 percent).

Franken only got 43% in a three-way race in 2008, winning a contested recount and challenge over then-incumbent Norm Coleman. He only got that close by being on the same ticket as Barack Obama in the presidential election. (Dayton’s recount was much less controversial and mainly pointless, as he had a 9,000 vote lead in his three-way race in 2010.) Franken was not a good campaigner in 2008, although he wasn’t terrible, and underperformed Obama by a wide margin.

Also, in neither race has the GOP completely unified behind a single candidate. McFadden and Johnson won the endorsements at the party convention a couple of weeks ago, but Minnesota also has a primary in August to settle the nominations. McFadden will only face token opposition in the primary, as the party mostly coalesced around his candidacy, but the gubernatorial nomination will remain contentious through the primary. If neither Franken nor Dayton can get to 50% against fractured opposition now, they will have a tougher time when Republicans close ranks after the primary.

Jacobs makes a particularly good point about the Senate race. Until recently, it hadn’t appeared on watch lists for potential Republican pickups for reasons outlined in my intro. If Franken is this vulnerable and Obama’s numbers continue to erode, that could change — and McFadden might be able to nationalize the Minnesota race and get much more resources than he can raise otherwise. That will force Democrats to open another front on defense in a cycle in which they can ill afford to dilute their impact in other races.

It’s still an uphill climb in Minnesota to retire Franken, but it’s not impossible. McFadden looks like a competent campaigner and above-average fundraiser, which is important, and Franken is no Amy Klobuchar in terms of Minnesota tradition either. Survey USA has a pretty good track record in polling the state, but we’ll see soon enough whether this is an outlier — or a harbinger of a massive midterm sweep.

Update: Gary Gross calls this a “defining moment”:

Let’s put this more succinctly. It isn’t just that there’s a “solid base of opposition to Al Franken.” It’s that lots of people haven’t seen Franken make a difference in Washington, DC. It’s like they know he’s there but the average Minnesotan, not the political activists, couldn’t make a list of Franken’s accomplishments. …

Gov. Dayton and Sen. Franken are in the fight for their political lives. Whether they survive depends partly on the quality of their campaigns and partly on the amount of outside money spent. In 2010, ABM [a progressive group run by Dayton's wealthy ex-wife -- Ed] spent tons of money smearing Tom Emmer. This time, they’ll have to decide which races to spend money on. It’ll be difficult for them to help Gov. Dayton and Sen. Franken while trying to hold onto the majority in the Minnesota House of Representatives.


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A lot of chickens are going to roost this Fall.

Another Drew on June 13, 2014 at 2:06 PM

Neither one of these knuckleheads managed to get close to 50% of the vote. Hopefully, we flush them both and go for the trifecta with senator Klobuchar (at least Al Franken has a better hair-do) in four years.

Kidfromjersey on June 13, 2014 at 2:11 PM

Franken was nothing but a lousy comedian before he was elected. I’ll never understand why anybody thought a lousy comedian would make a excellent Representative.

HotAirian on June 13, 2014 at 2:11 PM

Lizard people. They’re the key.

Judge_Dredd on June 13, 2014 at 2:12 PM

The Rs do NOT deserve this.

Here’s laughing at you, Ned.

Schadenfreude on June 13, 2014 at 2:12 PM

Don’t know anything about his R challenger, but hope Franken is defeated. If he is, it’s inevitable a lot of D senators will be going down with him.

cat_owner on June 13, 2014 at 2:13 PM

I’ll never understand how Franken stole the election there in the first place. Republicans need to adopt the same ” Hey lookey here, I found a trunkload of ballots” strategy to win I guess.

Diluculo on June 13, 2014 at 2:13 PM

Maybe I’m not good enough, I’m not smart enough, and doggone it, people don’t like me! -the doubts sneaking into Franken’s mind.

Flange on June 13, 2014 at 2:14 PM

Lizard people. They’re the key.

Judge_Dredd on June 13, 2014 at 2:12 PM

I wanted to say that! Now, I have to do my Stuart Smalley Schlick.

I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me.

Cheese Wheel on June 13, 2014 at 2:14 PM

Franken was nothing but a lousy comedian before he was elected. I’ll never understand why anybody thought a lousy comedian would make a excellent Representative.

HotAirian on June 13, 2014 at 2:11 PM

The same kind of people that thought a communist, er, community organizer would make a good president.

Diluculo on June 13, 2014 at 2:14 PM

Maybe I’m not good enough, I’m not smart enough, and doggone it, people don’t like me! -the doubts sneaking into Franken’s mind.

Flange on June 13, 2014 at 2:14 PM

Dang it! You too!

Cheese Wheel on June 13, 2014 at 2:15 PM

Bishop works on mysterious ways…

ToddPA on June 13, 2014 at 2:15 PM

Franken only got 43% in a three-way race in 2008, winning a contested recount and challenge over then-incumbent Norm Coleman

Ed, do they not do runoffs in Minnesota?

Occams Stubble on June 13, 2014 at 2:20 PM

HotAirian on June 13, 2014 at 2:11 PM

Diluculo on June 13, 2014 at 2:14 PM

This state also brought us Paul Wellstone and Jessie Ventura.

I realize that we get teased about Minnesota almost every cycle. This does sound interesting though.

cozmo on June 13, 2014 at 2:22 PM

Dang it! You too!

Cheese Wheel on June 13, 2014 at 2:15 PM

Don’t be blue Cheese Wheel, it was bound to happen to someone on this thread.

Flange on June 13, 2014 at 2:23 PM

Ultra-conservative or conservative libertarian candidates funded by Dem PACs to appear onstage in 3..2..

yaedon on June 13, 2014 at 2:24 PM

Franken was nothing but a lousy comedian before he was elected. I’ll never understand why anybody thought a lousy comedian would make a excellent Representative.

HotAirian on June 13, 2014 at 2:11 PM

The same kind of people that thought a communist, er, community organizer would make a good president.

Diluculo on June 13, 2014 at 2:14 PM

The same kind of people who think a lousy comedian is an actual news anchor?

yaedon on June 13, 2014 at 2:26 PM

Frankenstein turned out not to be the worst kind of Senator Democrat, despite being a bottom-dwelling sleazeball fraudulently elected by massive lizardmen vote. Apparently, being a comedian uniquely prepares you for participating in American politics. I’d take him any day over “senator ma’am”, Chuckie doll or, doubly so, our local underage prostitute loving scumbag.

Rix on June 13, 2014 at 2:26 PM

Franken only go past Coleman by “finding” just enough votes in various car trunks. He needs to be bounced from the Senate

Whitey Ford on June 13, 2014 at 2:28 PM

The same kind of people who think a lousy comedian is an actual news anchor?

yaedon on June 13, 2014 at 2:26 PM

The dozen people who watch MSNBC?

22044 on June 13, 2014 at 2:29 PM

Time for AZ to send a few thousand unaccompanied Central American children to Minnesota to remind voters what liberalism hath wrought.

Yankee Doodle on June 13, 2014 at 2:29 PM

If coalesceing the GOP after the primary gets them within 3%, turn-out could easily make the difference. It is hard to see someone willing to crawl over broken glass to vote to reelect Dayton or Franken. Some might crawl over broken glass to take Harry Reid out of the Senate Majority position. Will Dayton lose women voters over his unionize the babysitters move?

KW64 on June 13, 2014 at 2:30 PM

The dozen people who watch MSNBC?

22044 on June 13, 2014 at 2:29 PM

Heh. A little stale, but well-played nonetheless.

yaedon on June 13, 2014 at 2:30 PM

That picture is comedy gold.

Schadenfreude on June 13, 2014 at 2:32 PM

People up there must suffer from brain freeze in November. I could hardly believe it when they elected a wrestler and then a comedian to the Senate. Is it possible that they’re mentally retarded enough to re-elect Franken?

cajunpatriot on June 13, 2014 at 2:33 PM

Ultra-conservative or conservative libertarian candidates funded by Dem PACs to appear onstage in 3..2..

yaedon on June 13, 2014 at 2:24 PM

Give that commenter a cigar. Meet Hannah Nicollet, erstwhile Ron Paul acolyte suddenly at the helm of the Independence Party ticket.

Mr. D on June 13, 2014 at 2:34 PM

Both sides, heed this advice.

Schadenfreude on June 13, 2014 at 2:34 PM

Is it possible that they’re mentally retarded enough to re-elect Franken?

cajunpatriot on June 13, 2014 at 2:33 PM

They re-elected Obama in 2012 by almost 8 points, sooooooooo……

yaedon on June 13, 2014 at 2:36 PM

I am scared to hope

gophergirl on June 13, 2014 at 2:37 PM

I am scared to hope

gophergirl on June 13, 2014 at 2:37 PM

gophergirl! Our eyes on the ground. Setting aside your scarediness, what says you?

yaedon on June 13, 2014 at 2:39 PM

The Rs do NOT deserve this.
Here’s laughing at you, Ned.
Schadenfreude on June 13, 2014 at 2:12 PM

Maybe not, Schade, but zero needs to be stopped somehow. If that means a GOP Congress, then so be it.

Newtie and the Beauty on June 13, 2014 at 2:40 PM

Dang it! You too!

Cheese Wheel on June 13, 2014 at 2:15 PM

Don’t be blue Cheese Wheel, it was bound to happen to someone on this thread.

Flange on June 13, 2014 at 2:23 PM

Ha ha!

Cheese Wheel on June 13, 2014 at 2:42 PM

Give that commenter a cigar. Meet Hannah Nicollet, erstwhile Ron Paul acolyte suddenly at the helm of the Independence Party ticket.

Mr. D on June 13, 2014 at 2:34 PM

Hmm, she is way too hot to be a liberal mole. Also, Ron Paul and his adepts might be a pack of loons but they will *not* cooperate with Democrats.

Rix on June 13, 2014 at 2:43 PM

Both sides, heed this advice.
Schadenfreude on June 13, 2014 at 2:34 PM

Is Chrissie Matthews leading the breaking of Dem ranks at MSLSD??

Newtie and the Beauty on June 13, 2014 at 2:43 PM

Hmm, she is way too hot to be a liberal mole. Also, Ron Paul and his adepts might be a pack of loons but they will *not* cooperate with Democrats.

Rix on June 13, 2014 at 2:43 PM

Diana Prince comes to mind.

Judge_Dredd on June 13, 2014 at 2:46 PM

Come on Obama,keep helping us out.

docflash on June 13, 2014 at 2:48 PM

I have to correct one thing: Franken only won because of vote fraud in his favor.

Warner Todd Huston on June 13, 2014 at 2:55 PM

In 2010, ABM [a progressive group run by Dayton's wealthy ex-wife -- Ed] spent tons of money smearing Tom Emmer.

Dayton’s family isn’t quite exactly poverty-stricken either.

whatcat on June 13, 2014 at 3:04 PM

Hmm, she is way too hot to be a liberal mole. Also, Ron Paul and his adepts might be a pack of loons but they will *not* cooperate with Democrats.

Rix on June 13, 2014 at 2:43 PM

Hannah Nicollet isn’t a loon at all. She is, however, the standard-bearer of a party that has caused significant mischief in Minnesota politics over the years. The party began with the remnants of the old Ross Perot movement and was the home of Jesse Ventura. She’ll be on the stage in every debate because the IP is considered a “major” party in Minnesota, even though her political positions have almost nothing to do with the historical mission of the IP. Depending on who wins the primary, she could conceivably drain away just enough voters from the Republican to make a difference. And the surname Nicollet has great meaning in Minnesota — the main street in downtown Minneapolis is Nicollet Avenue and there is a Nicollet County as well.

And you have to understand that the Paul folks had made significant inroads in the MN Republican structure in 2012, but because their candidate for Senate (Kurt Bills) was abandoned by the rest of the party, there’s significant acrimony involved.

Mr. D on June 13, 2014 at 3:04 PM

Give that commenter a cigar. Meet Hannah Nicollet, erstwhile Ron Paul acolyte suddenly at the helm of the Independence Party ticket.

Mr. D on June 13, 2014 at 2:34 PM

Ugh. Third party candidates taking votes from Coleman is how Franken got close enough to steal it in 2008. The margin of Franken’s “victory” was 215 votes found in a car trunk. The two spoiler candidates between them (Libertarian Party and Independence Party) took almost 23,000 votes.

Dems have a strategy here that is very difficult to detect in time and defeat.

Missy on June 13, 2014 at 3:09 PM

I’m thinking November will be a bloodbath for Democrats this November. I actually think the Republicans can get 54, 55, or more seats in their Senate caucus come next January.

Yet, there is still the cynic whispering in my ear saying the Republicans will blow it, and Biden will be the tie-breaker. It doesn’t matter if we get to 51 or 52. Do you not think Harry Reid hasn’t convinced one or two Republicans to switch in the event of a closely divided Senate? McCain? Or one of the Susan Collins? Even Lindsey Graham could be a potential flip once the election is behind him.

Eastwood Ravine on June 13, 2014 at 3:10 PM

The two spoiler candidates between them (Libertarian Party and Independence Party) took almost 23,000 votes.

Sorry, I was WAY off. The THREE spoiler candidates (Independence Party, Libertarian, Constitution) took almost 460,000 votes.

Missy on June 13, 2014 at 3:12 PM

Let’s make the 2010 midterms look like a picnic in the park!!

Who do we hate? DEMOCRATS!
Why do we hate ‘em? THEY SUCK!

RAH RAH RAH!

Tard on June 13, 2014 at 3:12 PM

Gov. Mark Dayton and Sen. Al Franken survived recounts when they won their first elections to the governor’s office and U.S. Senate.

No, Franken didn’t “survive” the recount. He wasn’t ahead after the initial vote, he was behind, and his supporters stole the recount with fraud.

ITguy on June 13, 2014 at 3:14 PM

And remember, Franken was the 60th vote for Obamacare on December 23, 2009.

ITguy on June 13, 2014 at 3:16 PM

Don’t worry about Franken or Dayton. As long as cars have trunks big enough to hold “missing” ballot boxes, they’ll do just fine.

catsandbooks on June 13, 2014 at 3:17 PM

And the surname Nicollet has great meaning in Minnesota — the main street in downtown Minneapolis is Nicollet Avenue and there is a Nicollet County as well.
Mr. D on June 13, 2014 at 3:04 PM

In downtown, it’s the Nicollet “Mall”. It’s where Mary Tyler Moore tossed her cap in the air in the MTM Show’s intro-theme. There’s even a statue of that moment at the spot, on Nicollet Mall and 7th St.

whatcat on June 13, 2014 at 3:23 PM

Do you not think Harry Reid hasn’t convinced one or two Republicans to switch in the event of a closely divided Senate? McCain? Or one of the Susan Collins? Even Lindsey Graham could be a potential flip once the election is behind him.

I dunno. Those three just love being the guys that the Dems can try to woo when the GOP have the majority. I don’t see it.

Maybe other Rs would go along, but if the Dems lose the majority that will mean that Obama will be cut off at the knees and humiliated. Who will want any part of the Dem party at that point when they could be part of a two-chamber Republican majority?

Missy on June 13, 2014 at 3:23 PM

Yes, the Nicollet name recognition would be a big deal, but more so for LIV Dem-leaning voters (because Minneapolis is Dem central) than R-leaning voters in the exurbs and outstate who will be excited to retire Franken. I hope.

But I don’t trust any spoiler candidates in MN after 2008.

Missy on June 13, 2014 at 3:26 PM

Yes, the Nicollet name recognition would be a big deal, but more so for LIV Dem-leaning voters (because Minneapolis is Dem central) than R-leaning voters in the exurbs and outstate who will be excited to retire Franken. I hope.

But I don’t trust any spoiler candidates in MN after 2008.

Missy on June 13, 2014 at 3:26 PM

To clarify, Hannah Nicollet is running for governor against Dayton and the eventual GOP nominee, not senator. Her original plan was to run for Senate, but she changed that at the last minute when she got to the IP convention, which I believe took place at a large corner booth of a Perkins somewhere outstate.

Mr. D on June 13, 2014 at 3:35 PM

The same people who counted the votes when Franken was elected are still counting the votes. More and more, the number of votes actually cast, and the election returns reported, have no physical relationship. The margin of fraud is at least 10%. You have to be working to beat that.

Subotai Bahadur on June 13, 2014 at 3:36 PM

Both sides, heed this advice.

Schadenfreude on June 13, 2014 at 2:34 PM

I cannot believe those words came from Matthews mouth.

Schaden, great advice- lets hope lots of peeps take heed (especially if they also vote)

Lord Whorfin on June 13, 2014 at 3:40 PM

Yes, the Nicollet name recognition would be a big deal, but more so for LIV Dem-leaning voters (because Minneapolis is Dem central) than R-leaning voters in the exurbs and outstate who will be excited to retire Franken. I hope.
Missy on June 13, 2014 at 3:26 PM

I think that sounds about right. Skip Humphrey lost the 1988 election for Senator to the Republican candidate. In 1998 both he and the Republican candidate lost the gubernatorial race to Jesse Ventura. You can’t get much closer to a beloved Minnesota politician than being the son of Humbert Humphrey, but it didn’t help Skip.

And I don’t think the lady in question is related to the Nicollets for whom stuff was named after. Even if she were, only the older and more historical-minded Minnesotan voters would know enough to even care one way or another. That’s old school.

whatcat on June 13, 2014 at 3:48 PM

Baby killers…..

crosshugger on June 13, 2014 at 4:03 PM

Dayton is a buffoon but has money like Trump.

Franken is just a leftist talking points reader. He can throw in a funny line here and there, but I have yet to hear him make an intelligent point on an issue that mattered.

Minnesota is nuts. God save them.

Adjoran on June 13, 2014 at 4:18 PM

I think that sounds about right. Skip Humphrey lost the 1988 election for Senator to the Republican candidate. In 1998 both he and the Republican candidate lost the gubernatorial race to Jesse Ventura. You can’t get much closer to a beloved Minnesota politician than being the son of Humbert Humphrey, but it didn’t help Skip.

And I don’t think the lady in question is related to the Nicollets for whom stuff was named after. Even if she were, only the older and more historical-minded Minnesotan voters would know enough to even care one way or another. That’s old school.

whatcat on June 13, 2014 at 3:48 PM

Skip Humphrey is to Hubert Humphrey as Frank Sinatra Jr. is to Frank Sinatra. He was well known and not well regarded.

Hannah isn’t related to the Nicollets, but that’s not the issue. And while I agree that the Nicollet name is very old school, older and more historical-minded Minnesotans are often the people the Republican Party needs to pull the lever. It wpn’t take many votes to swing this election.

Mr. D on June 13, 2014 at 4:24 PM

Is Chrissie Matthews leading the breaking of Dem ranks at MSLSD??

Newtie and the Beauty on June 13, 2014 at 2:43 PM

It’s ok for them to attack Obumble because they expect to replace him with Hillary. Now they will turn their accolades to her.

crankyoldlady on June 13, 2014 at 4:38 PM

Having watched a few elections in my time, there are 2 states that tease us every election cycle and they never come through. Minnesota and New Hampshire. Ed, I’d like to believe that these are possible pickups for us, but I’m looking at the forest and not the trees. Sorry, don’t think it’s going to happen in either of those states. But you’re the boots on the ground in Minnesota.

COgirl on June 13, 2014 at 5:36 PM

Gov. Mark Dayton and Sen. Al Franken survived recounts when they won their first elections to the governor’s office and U.S. Senate.

Quick! Time to start packing those car trunks with ‘unprocessed mail-in ballots’!

GarandFan on June 13, 2014 at 6:25 PM

Wait. Aren’t the good people of Minnesota thrilled that Al gave them Obamacare?

NYCMike on June 13, 2014 at 6:54 PM

In 2010, ABM [a progressive group run by Dayton's wealthy ex-wife -- Ed]

We have Alliance for A Better Utah out here too. Same MO – hyper partisan progressive and funded by God (for now) knows who.

LL

Lady Logician on June 13, 2014 at 7:45 PM

Franken is no Amy Klobuchar in terms of Minnesota tradition either

Are you trying to tell us something like the fact he was from MN but moved away for about 40 years?(Then only came back long enough to run for senate at which point he moved away again because the senate is in DC.) I know I always say this but why would anybody vote for a guy who moved away and only moved back to run for the most important political position for the state in DC? (Oh right, Minnesota crazy.)

Dave_d on June 13, 2014 at 7:50 PM

Could be NY too, Dave_d.

COgirl on June 13, 2014 at 10:13 PM

A few miscellaneous comments.

1 – It’s questionable that Franken won the race. W/o boring you with details, MN election “law” is very loose to say the least. My fear this cycle is that they Dems (DFLers in MN) will do everything they can to “protect” their candidates.
2 – Dayton clan is split – some support Mark, others don’t.
3 – Dayton’s trust fund is mostly located in South Dakota and outside the US. So, he can live high on the hog with no problem and avoid some of the taxes he is imposing on average Minnesotans.
4 – Franken is good with the press and our leftist media will give him a break. BUT, he only got 43% last time and we don’t see him in MN. He may come, but if he is, he’s spending time with the elitist Dems in MN. And he has a temper – once that appears on video, well, he’s burnt toast.
5 – Dayton goes no where without handlers. I don’t know why but even walking 30′ to a podium often looks difficult for him.
6 – McFadden has the ability to raise money – a key plus in this state. He is his own man – on a vertical learning curve but conservative in many areas – a plus with the western half of MN.
7 – Johnson is as ethical as they come. He’s Norwegian, but this is not stopping him from passion and real caring. He would be a terrific governor!

MN can elect Rs this year – they really can and I expect they will.

MN J on June 14, 2014 at 12:13 AM

I’m still reeling from Lindsey Graham’s win.
So if this liberal trial lawyer can get close to 60% of the vote, what’s stopping the comedian from winning?
Hey, Minnesota, wake up!

Belle on June 14, 2014 at 12:30 AM

Franken has to go. Has no respect in the senate.

Amazingoly on June 14, 2014 at 8:23 AM

MN can elect Rs this year – they really can and I expect they will.

MN J on June 14, 2014 at 12:13 AM

Don’t toy with our emotions, now.

ncinca on June 14, 2014 at 10:26 AM

Please Minnesota, don’t screw this up.

Sigh.

V7_Sport on June 14, 2014 at 7:17 PM

Franken won in 2008 because the third party candidacy of Dean Barkley a former US Senator appointed by Jesse Ventura. Barkley’s 15% of the vote siphoned off votes from the Republican Norm Coleman.

edrebber on June 15, 2014 at 1:08 AM

I always thought that SNL sketches went on too long. Come on, Al, it’s time, get off the stage!

virgo on June 16, 2014 at 1:59 AM