We expect the Democratic candidates for US Senate and Governor will prevail and their margins will be in the mid to high 50’s. We make this assessment based on Minnesota’s realignment back to a two party state where a third party candidate will have at best a nominal effect in an election. If we view a mid-term election as a base vote election then we feel that DFL base is 43% and the Republican 37% with 20% uncommitted to either side, but they generally lean in the same fashion. This means the generic Democratic vote is actually 52% the Republican 44% with 4% going to the remaining third party offerings.
Additionally, there is nothing driving this election, it is rather dull with little controversies other than the odd candidate for the State Supreme Court Michelle McDonald (R) and potentially the combination of sex and politics in the State Auditor’s race with Randy Gilbert (R).
Now unlike the 2010 election, which is an aberration and only occurs every 30 years, meaning there is no statewide federal candidate for office, the turnout will be down from Presidential years. This provides the greatest challenge to Democrats which need to become more and more innovative and drive out their base. One truism is Republican voters are far more committed than are Democratic voters.
The most recent poll in the US Senate race between Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) and Businessman Mike McFadden (R) has Franken with nearly a 50% margin at 49% with McFadden trailing significantly with 36%. With Franken showing such support with eight weeks left in the campaign it is clear McFadden is gaining no traction with voters.
His attempts at humor in his campaign commercials are a poor campaign strategy. He seems to being to trying to out funny the funnyman, while Franken appears serious, stately and actually doing his job. We expect the margins will widen as we approach the election and will be surprised if McFadden clears 46%.
The same Star Tribune Poll has Governor Mark Dayton (DFL) leading challenger Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson (R) with a sizable lead 45% to 33%. This places Dayton as a bit weaker than Franken with the same poll participants, which we find to be a bit odd. Granted Dayton is an oddity in Minnesota politics, but just as everyone has a strange uncle or aunt, so do we and ours is Mark Dayton.
We learned Dayton has 100% name recognition and he like Franken is dependent upon the Democratic based vote. Unlike in 2010, where third party candidate, former Republican Tom Horner (IP) syphoned 12% of the votes, this go round the third party effect will be minimal and there is little Johnson is doing to capitalize. His rhetoric is just generic Republican talking points, lower taxes, smaller government more freedom, more liberty.
If the trend holds we expect Dayton will break the mid-50’s and we expect his numbers will be comparable to those of Franken.