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August 2008


Humphrey Institute to Host Premier Politics & Policy Forum September 1-4

As the Republican National Convention convenes in St. Paul on September 1, the University of Minnesota and the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs is creating the premier forum for independent and respected analysis and commentary during the Convention. America's Future: Conversations about Politics and Policy during the 2008...

Commentary: Why Picking Sarah Palin Was Smart Politics

When I walked into the post office on University Avenue in Minneapolis yesterday, two friendly clerks with whom I’ll occasionally discuss politics exclaimed to me, “You were right!? Well, not quite. For about two months it is true that I have been telling anyone who asked (including my friends at...

We Are Not Traitors: Obama Scores Biggest Applause With Right-Wing Rhetoric

Barack Obama’s speech accepting the Democratic Party nomination was largely well-received and accomplished several things he was perceived to need to do: · Acknowledge Hillary (and Bill) Clinton’s efforts to rally her supporters to his side. · Provide some specifics as to the blueprint of his presidential agenda. · Show...

3rd CD: DFL Experiences Historical Bump in Presidential Election Years

Upon 9-term Republican U.S. Representative Jim Ramstad’s retirement announcement in 2007, the DFL knew Ramstad’s open 3rd CD seat would be a competitive race and a potential pick-up for the party in 2008. (The DFL is running Iraqi War veteran Ashwin Madia against Republican State Representative Erik Paulsen). But the...

Trust in Government Drops By Nearly Half In Minnesota Since 2004

As Minnesotans prepare once again to be at the heart of another competitive presidential election, the Gopher States’ view of government has eroded precipitously during the last four years. According to the latest Humphrey Institute / Minnesota Public Radio survey, only 28 percent of likely voters believe our government can...

Upper Midwesterns Back McCain on Foreign Policy; Domestic Policy Mixed

A series of SurveyUSA polls across the Upper Midwest finds registered voters more confident John McCain can better handle foreign policy issues and immigration, while Barack Obama has the edge on health care. In a surprising turn, Obama ends up with a draw against McCain on economic issues. The polls,...

Obama-Biden: Familiar Bedfellows...Though You'd Never Know It

Most of the weekend’s media coverage of Barack Obama’s pick of Joe Biden to be his vice-presidential running mate focused on two competing, though related, angles: First, that Biden was a good choice because he will shore up Obama’s perceived lack of experience, especially on foreign policy issues; Biden...

Why Dean Barkley Is Hurting Al Franken's U.S. Senate Chances

A new U.S. Senate poll released today by the Humphrey Institute and Minnesota Public Radio finds Norm Coleman and Al Franken virtually deadlocked in the Gopher State’s U.S. Senate race. While Franken’s statistically insignificant 41 to 40 percent lead in the poll comes as a bit of a surprise...

HHH/MPR Survey: Obama Up By 10 in Minnesota

A new poll by the University of Minnesota's Humphrey Institute and Minnesota Public Radio was released today indicating Barack Obama still has the advantage over John McCain in the Gopher State. The poll, conducted over an 11-day period ending August 17th of 763 likely voters, finds Obama leading McCain 48...

McCain’s Momentum: A State-by-State Overview of Recent Polls

After trailing Barack Obama in virtually every national matchup poll from mid-May through late July, John McCain is now running even with Obama or has taken the lead outright, according to several recent national surveys – including a brand new Reuters / Zogby poll that gives McCain his largest advantage...

Smart Politics on WCCO-TV's "Good Question"

Smart Politics' Eric Ostermeier was interviewed by Jason DeRusha on WCCO-TV's "Good Question" segment during Tuesday night's 10 o'clock telecast. DeRusha's Good Question tonight was, "Does the Vice President Pick Matter" Ostermeier explained why a VP pick is not a predictor of how a party's ticket will fare in November...

McCain Nearly Even With Obama in New Poll of Minnesotans

SurveyUSA’s latest poll of likely voters in the Gopher State finds John McCain reaching his second highest level of support in more than a dozen polls conducted since late March 2008. McCain’s two-point deficit, 47 to 45 percent, is just one point shy of his previous peak, when he trailed...

Number of Undecided Voters Increasing in Minnesota Senate Race

In SurveyUSA’s new mid-August poll of the Minnesota U.S. Senate race, Norm Coleman has a 7-point advantage over Al Franken, 46 to 39 percent. The poll continues a trend over the last six weeks revealing there is a substantial number of Minnesotans who are undecided or who plan to vote...

Third Parties Garnering Support In Key Statewide Races

A recent report by Gallup indicates muted support for third party candidates thus far in the 2008 presidential race. In an open-ended question asking likely voters for which candidate they would cast their presidential ballot, only 2 percent cited third party candidates (1 percent each for Libertarian candidate Bob Barr...

Obama Support Falls To Lowest Mark Against McCain in Rasmussen’s Minnesota Polling

As recent state polls across the country indicate a tightening of the presidential race in favor of John McCain, a new Rasmussen poll of 700 likely Minnesota voters finds support for Obama at its lowest margin to date across nine polls conducted by the survey organization since February 2008. The...

Will GOP Controversy Put 16th Senate District In Play for the DFL?

Minnesota blogs have been buzzing in recent days in light of state Representative Mark Olson’s endorsement by the Republican Party for the special election in Senate District 16 held this November. The election is being held to fill Betsy Wergin’s seat, who was appointed to the Public Utilities Commission. Controversy...

Will Minnesotans Turn Out On Primary Day?

Minnesotans have earned a deserved reputation for turning out the vote on Election Day in recent years. During presidential election years, Minnesota has yielded a turnout rate of between 65 and 83 percent since 1952, including increasing totals of 65, 70, and 78 percent during the last three cycles...

Obama Lead Narrows in Iowa While Harkin’s Lead Expands

In another bit of sobering news for the Barack Obama campaign, a new Rasmussen poll of 500 likely voters in Iowa finds his double-digit lead over John McCain from a month ago now standing at 5 points. In July, Obama’s lead was measured at 48 to 38 percent over McCain,...

Pawlenty VP Pick Would Be Rare: Slot Historically Reserved for D.C. Players

Should John McCain pick Tim Pawlenty to be his Vice-Presidential running mate in the coming days, the selection would be a bit of a rarity, given recent political history. During the past 14 presidential elections dating back to 1952, just 2 major party VP nominees had not served in the...

Pawlenty Disapproval Numbers Increasing Amid VP Talk

Although Minnesota Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty is not beloved by all in the Gopher State, he has maintained a consistent level of job approval throughout his gubernatorial tenure. In nearly 60 public opinion polls of Minnesotans conducted since early 2003, Pawlenty has dipped below the 50 percent mark in...

McCain Making Inroads in Wisconsin

A Quinnipiac survey of likely voters conducted in late July showed John McCain neck-and-neck with Barack Obama in Minnesota, but trailing by double-digits in Wisconsin. At that time Smart Politics warned that the political history of the region would make it very unlikely for McCain to perform better in Minnesota...

Iowa House Democrats Eye to Expand Advantage in '08

Iowa Democrats seek to retain control of the House of Representatives in back-to-back elections for the first time since 1988/1990. Democrats won control of the House in 2006 with a 5-seat gain (as projected by Smart Politics), ending a 14-year reign by the GOP. In 2008, Democrats take a 53...

The McCain Surge: Is It Real? Yes.

John McCain’s campaign has had the benefit of running as the underdog during the past few months, with most pundits characterizing the 2008 presidential race as “Barack Obama’s to lose.? Even strategist Dick Morris, hardly a friend to Democrats these days, has stated as late as yesterday that the race...

The Decline of a President: Tracing Bush's Approval Ratings in the Upper Midwest

Despite rising national unemployment rates, high gas prices, and overall economic uncertainty, George W. Bush remains basically no less popular among Upper Midwesterners in 2008 than he was in 2007. A Smart Politics study of nearly 180 public opinion polls conducted between 2004 and 2008 in the region finds Bush’s...

Smart Politics Listed As Top 10 Most Influential Blog in Minnesota

BlogNetNews.com recently rated Smart Politics as one of the Top 10 most influential blogs in Minnesota. Smart Politics is ranked among the top blogs that are "Most powerfully influencing the direction of the Minnesota political blogosphere. On that note, Smart Politics would like to thank its old and new readership...

What Is the Democratic Ceiling Across Upper Midwestern State Legislatures?

The 2006 election saw Democratic takeovers of 3 of the 6 Upper Midwestern legislative chambers previously controlled by the Republicans. Democrats now control 5 chambers (the Iowa House and Senate, the Minnesota House and Senate, and the Wisconsin Senate) with the Republicans controlling 3 (the South Dakota House and Senate...