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How Will the National Media Cover the Franken vs. Coleman Recount?

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As the headline of Barack Obama’s historic victory begins to fade and political reporters and analysts need to turn their attention elsewhere, it is likely the recount in Minnesota's U.S. Senate race will satisfy their cravings and subsequently garner even more national attention.

To date, due to its understandably Obama-centric coverage, the national media has largely made only passing references to the close battle and forthcoming recount here in the Gopher State (as well as the shocking election results in the Alaska Senate race, with convicted felon Ted Stevens in a fight for his political life).

Still, there are a number of reasons the Al Franken-Norm Coleman matchup should begin to draw more of the media’s eye: 1) the race was the most expensive U.S. Senate contest in the nation in 2008, 2) the race features a well-known celebrity in Franken, and 3) the race had the strongest performance by a third-party candidate in any U.S. Senate matchup this year.

The stance of some national media figures will be quite predictable: Bill O’Reilly, a long-time adversary of Franken, has already weighed in on his program, stating last week how he was befuddled as to how any American could vote for this “evil? man. O’Reilly made no mention on his program as to how nearly 50 percent of Alaskans could vote for a (Republican) felon in a U.S. Senate race.

Perhaps some of the media will recast the recount as the 2008 version of Gore vs. Bush. The media tried to do this with Kerry vs. Bush in Ohio in 2004, but the story did not have any legs. The true sequel to Gore vs. Bush in 2004 was Washington’s Gubernatorial contest in which Democrat Christine Gregoire defeated Republican Dino Rossi by 129 votes. That race also featured a highly controversial recount – as well as a rematch in 2008 (which Gregoire won by 7 points; it is doubtful, should Franken lose the recount, that the DFL will give him a second chance to oust Coleman).

Some political reporters will undoubtedly frame their story as another instance of Minnesota wackiness: “This is the state that elected former wrestler Jesse Ventura, so it is no surprise nearly half the state is willing to send a comedian to D.C.…?

The question the media should pose is how it is that Republicans continue to edge out DFLers in high profile races in Minnesota in Democratic wave election years (in 2006 with Tim Pawlenty, and in 2008 with Coleman and 6th CD Representative Michele Bachmann).

Smart Politics will continue to keep an eye and ear on the national media as they descend upon the Gopher State to cover the recount.

Previous post: Green Party Sets Personal Best in Minnesota's HD 61B Contest
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Remains of the Data

Which States Own the Best Track Record in Backing Eventual GOP Presidential Nominees?

Nine states (each with primaries) have an unblemished record in voting for the eventual Republican nominee since 1976 - and not all host contests on the back end of the calendar.

Political Crumbs

Evolving?

When Scott Walker "punted" back in February after being asked if he was comfortable with the idea of evolution he added, "That's a question a politician shouldn't be involved in one way or the other." However, it may very well be a question that is asked at one of the upcoming GOP debates this year. In South Carolina during the first GOP debate in 2012, FOX News' Juan Williams asked Tim Pawlenty, "Do you equate the teaching of creationism with the teaching of evolution as the basis for what should be taught for our nation's schools?" Pawlenty replied, "There should be room in the curriculum for study of intelligent design" but that it was up to the local school districts if it should be in a science class or comparative theory class. At the fourth Republican debate held in California, Jon Huntsman addressed the GOP becoming "anti-science" thusly: "Listen, when you make comments that fly in the face of what 98 out of 100 climate scientists have said, when you call into question the science of evolution, all I'm saying is that, in order for the Republican Party to win, we can't run from science. We can't run from mainstream conservative philosophy."


73 Months and Counting

January's preliminary Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers show Minnesota's unemployment rate of 3.7 percent was once again lower than Wisconsin's 5.0 percent. That marks the 73rd consecutive month in which Minnesota has boasted a lower jobless rate than its neighbor to the east dating back to January 2009 including each of the last 67 months by at least one point. The Gopher State has now edged Wisconsin in the employment border battle for 204 of the last 216 months dating back to February 1997. Wisconsin only managed a lower unemployment rate than Minnesota for the 12 months of 2008 during this 18-year span.


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