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Franken Announces Senate Candidacy; Starts 22 Points in the Hole

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On Wednesday Al Franken officially announced his candidacy for the U.S. Senate—aiming to become the DLF nominee to challenge 1-term Minnesota Republican incumbent Norm Coleman in 2008.

As discussed in a February 2, 2007 Smart Politics entry, Franken will have an uphill battle to win both the DFL primary as well as a potential general election match-up against Coleman. An early poll released Wednesday by SurveyUSA indicates Franken begins his campaign with more than a 20-point deficit to Coleman. In a poll of 632 registered voters statewide, Coleman led Franken 57-35 in a head-to-head matchup with only 8 percent undecided.

Franken's low level of support in this poll, however, is more likely a product of the state's generally positive view of Coleman rather than an unfamiliarity with Franken or a distaste for what may be Franken's two Achilles' heels: being a comedian (and therefore not viewed as a serious candidate by some voters) and his far-to-the-left political leanings. Coleman's job approval rating has hovered between the high 40s and mid-50s throughout most of his first 4 years in office.

Attorney Mike Ciresi—who ran a solid Senate campaign in 2000 and is being mentioned as a likely DFL opponent of Franken - also only earned 34 percent against Coleman's 57 percent in the same SurveyUSA poll.

While this poll is 21-months out from Election Day, it will be interesting to see if Franken is able to chip away at Coleman's advantage this year. In July 2001 - when the 2002 U.S. Senate election was 16 months away - Coleman had narrowed the late Senator Paul Wellstone's lead to just 4 points (Pioneer Press / MPR Poll).

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Remains of the Data

Gender Equality in the US House: A State-by State Quarter-Century Report Card (1989-2014)

A study of 5,325 congressional elections finds the number of female U.S. Representatives has more than tripled over the last 25 years, but the rate at which women are elected to the chamber still varies greatly between the states.

Political Crumbs

Final Four Has Presidential Approval

By edging Michigan in the final seconds Sunday, the University of Kentucky guaranteed that one school in the Final Four this year would be located in a state that was not carried by President Barack Obama in 2012. (Connecticut, Florida, and Wisconsin had previously earned Final Four slots over the weekend). Across the 76 Final Fours since 1939, an average of 3.1 schools have been located in states won by the president's ticket during the previous election cycle. All four schools have come from states won by the president 29 times, with the most recent being the 2009 Final Four featuring Connecticut, Michigan State, North Carolina, and Villanova. On 30 occasions three Final Four schools have been located in states won by the president, with two schools 11 times and only one school six times (the most recent being 2012 with Kansas, Kentucky, Louisville, and Ohio State). There has never been a Men's NCAA Division I Final Four in which no schools were located in states carried by the president's ticket.


Three for the Road

A new Rasmussen Poll shows Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker in a dead heat with likely 2014 Democratic nominee Mary Burke. Walker is seeking to win his third consecutive election after prevailing in 2012's recall contest. Eight of his predecessors accomplished this feat: Republicans Lucius Fairchild (in 1869), Jeremiah Rusk (1886), Robert La Follette (1904), Emanuel Philipp (1918), John Blaine (1924), Walter Kohler (1954), Warren Knowles (1968), and Tommy Thompson (1994). Three others Badger State governors lost on their third campaign: Democrat George Peck (1894), Progressive Philip La Follette (1938), and Republican Julius Heil (1942). One died in office before having the opportunity to win a third contest (GOPer Walter Goodland in 1947) while another resigned beforehand (Democrat Patrick Lucey in 1977 to become Ambassador to Mexico). Overall Wisconsin gubernatorial incumbents have won 35 of 47 general election contests, or 74.5 percent of the time.


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