In analyzing the poll results yesterday from NPR, I failed to notice that one of the ten Republican districts they chose as “competitive” was Minnesota’s Sixth CD, represented by Michele Bachmann. My friend Eric Black at MinnPost did notice it and asked the polling firm why they chose one of the few targeted districts in 2008 that Democrats failed to convert in a bad year for Republicans:
The 70 districts are disclosed in the poll’s full report. Of local notice, only one Minnesota district made the list and it is the northern suburban 6th District now represented by sophomore Repub Rep. Michele Bachmann. Greenberg and Bolger apparently believe that the Tarryl Clark challenge to Bachmann represents one of the ten best opportunities in the country for the Dems to pick up a seat. Bachmann is the only Repub incumbent, in a district that was carried by John McCain in 2008, to make the list. And McCain carried the 6th by a comfortable nine percentage point margin.
Coupled with yesterday’s news, that the national Dem House campaign committee had added Clark’s race to their “Red-to-Blue” list for special attention (and special help in fund-raising from national Dem donors), this is more evidence that the Bachmann race will be on the radar screen. I called the polling firm to ask why Bachmann was included. Senior analyst Peyton Craighill told me that it was the fact that Bachmann won reelection in 2008 by a scant three-percentage point margin with less than a majority vote, and the fact that several of the national pundits who try to identify “in-play” races list MN-6 as at least somewhat in play.
But the inclusion of Bachmann is a distraction from the main point of the poll and of this post, which is that, overall, this poll is very promising for the Repubs.
Frankly, if Democrats think that MN-06 represents one of their ten best chances in 2010 for a Red-to-Blue conversion, then this may be a better year than even the NPR poll shows. Bachmann faced a concerted effort to unseat her in 2008, with tons of money flowing in from out of state and Al Franken’s Senate campaign drawing even more national attention to Minnesota. She won that election by a little over three points, but that was in a three-way race against a DFL candidate with statewide name recognition and an Independence Party candidate that drew moderate Republican support away in a bad cycle for conservatives.
In 2010, that district isn’t going to go any more Democratic than it did in 2008. Furthermore, Bachmann has increased her own national standing with her leadership of the Tea Party movement. If that makes her a more attractive target for Democrats, it also makes her a more difficult target, too. She can count on a national outpouring of support that will dwarf anything Tarryl Clark will see. Democrats will talk a big game, but if they commit to serious national investment in a traditionally conservative district when Blue Dogs are drowning across the US, I’d eat my hat.
Of course, Bachmann would welcome the challenge. Big money from the DNC and its affiliates didn’t beat her in a year when Republicans hit their modern nadir, and it’s certainly not going to beat her while Republicans ascend against a big-spending, out-of-control Democratic agenda. If the DCCC and the DNC want to waste their money in MN-06, I’d bet that Bachmann would say: bring it on.