Franken in trouble in MN for 2014?

Don’t get too excited about the latest St. Cloud State University poll in Minnesota, but it does at least offer a glimmer of hope for a Minnesota Republican Party that still finds itself in financial and organizational straits. Just a year after getting blitzed in the 2012 election, Minnesotans find themselves less than enchanted with Democratic officeholders. And 2014 incumbent Sen. Al Franken fares the worst of all:

In the poll released this week, 44% of Minnesotans polled said Governor Mark Dayton is doing excellent or pretty good. That’s a 9% drop from last year, which political analyst David Schultz says may have something to do with football.

“I think he’s getting a lot of blowback on the Vikings stadium,” said Schultz, “especially in the financing mechanisms, and I think he’s starting to feel some of the repercussions and some of the negative approvals coming off of a deal many people are thinking was not best for state of Minnesota.” …

In the Senate Democrat Al Franken shows only a 39% in terms of a pretty good or excellent rating. He too is up for re-election next year. Last time Franken only eked by Norm Coleman in a recount.

Franken has kept a low profile in the past five years since his disputed election in 2008, which has served him well back home, at least until now. He only gives interviews to Minnesota media, and after a couple of incidents in his first few months of attempting to pick fights on the floor of the Senate, he has become a natural backbencher. Minnesotans aren’t terribly impressed with public-relations stunts from their politicians, with the temporary exception of Jesse Ventura, and the low profile has protected Franken from questions about his lackluster track record and rubber-stamp approach to the Obama agenda.

That, however, has backfired of late, thanks to the ObamaCare disaster. Barack Obama has also nose-dived in a state which he won handily a year ago, dropping nine points as well to 38% who give him “excellent” or “pretty good” marks on job approval. That kind of linkage — if supported by more polling — might force people to rethink the risk Democrats run in 2014’s midterms, especially for Senate seats.  Most people would have considered Minnesota a fairly safe bet for Franken’s re-election, and Republican disorganization might still prove that true. But if ObamaCare drives numbers this far down in blue Minnesota, which states will still be safe for Democrats in 2014?

Small wonder, then, that Franken told Minnesota Public Radio last week that he’d back a delay in the individual mandate if the incompetence continues at HHS.  Franken might be forced to raise his profile in order to do something he hasn’t done in the past five years — distance himself from the Obama agenda. He won’t be the only one doing so, either, if this disaster rolls into January.

Eric Ostermeier analyzes the buyers’ remorse arising in Minnesota:

Polling has been sparse in Minnesota’s 2014 U.S. Senate race – a contest that a year ago was seemingly a slam dunk for one-term DFL incumbent Al Franken.

Franken’s seat currently sits on the ‘watch list’ of D.C. prognosticators Charlie Cook and Larry Sabato – both identifying the race as a ‘likely’ hold for Franken, with the caveat that the race may yet become competitive.

Such caution seems validated in light of a new St. Cloud State University poll that was released on Wednesday, which shows Franken receiving a job approval rating of just 39 percent among his constituents – 18 points behind the state’s senior delegation member Amy Klobuchar at 57 percent.

Fifty-one percent of Gopher State residents rated Franken’s job performance negatively.

I’m still skeptical of a flip in Minnesota, but I’d have laughed out loud two months ago.

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