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As Coleman Toils, Klobuchar Sails

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As Norm Coleman’s campaign continues to fight with Al Franken for every vote (and seemingly every procedural move) in the highly watched Senate race recount, his DFL colleague Amy Klobuchar remains the most popular figure in Minnesota politics.

Prior to his 15+ round heavyweight fight with Franken, Senator Coleman too was a reasonably popular figure in Minnesota politics, boasting favorability ratings in the mid-50s as late as April of this year. Those ratings would plummet by the end of the campaign to the low-40s after several fierce debates and a controversial advertising campaign. Coleman’s job approval ratings also sunk, from the low 50s in April down to the high 30s by the end of the campaign in October.

Since Election Day, his early declaration of victory aside, Coleman has tried to distance himself from the controversies surrounding the recount (leaving that to his campaign and attorneys), by continuing to cast key votes on Capitol Hill. (Should Coleman get re-elected, he does not want his approval or favorability numbers to have sunk even further).

Klobuchar, however, has enjoyed what looks on the surface to be a two-year honeymoon period: the junior Senator’s approval ratings have ranged in the high 50s to mid-60s in sixteen consecutive polls dating back to July 2007 through October of this year. Klobuchar’s disapproval rating has yet to reach 40 percent in her tenure in D.C.

Klobuchar has some inherent advantages over Coleman that would tend to make her more popular in the Gopher State, not the least of which is that the state tilts blue – although that is only probably good for a few points. Klobuchar’s perennially sunny disposition (and a smile that appears much more natural than Coleman’s) is the embodiment of Minnesota Nice, which might also be good for a few more points.

But if one examines each Senator’s voting record, Coleman has been vastly more bipartisan than Klobuchar – something that Minnesotans should tend to reward, with the high percentage (30+ percent) of independents in the state. When Klobuchar was running for her Senate seat in 2006, a poll conducted by Rasmussen two months before the election found only 42 percent of Minnesotans viewed Klobuchar as having a liberal political ideology (a near equal amount, 37 percent, viewed her as a moderate). According to Congressional Quarterly, however, Coleman has broken with his party leadership more than most Senators in D.C. (at 21 percent), and at a far greater clip than Klobuchar (7 percent); still, the same Rasmussen poll found a greater percentage of Minnesotans viewed Coleman as conservative (46 percent) than Klobuchar as liberal. Perhaps those numbers will change in future polls now that Klobuchar has a concrete voting record in Congress.

Should Coleman emerge victorious in his political (and legal) battles with Franken, despite his history of bipartisanship, the Senator will undoubtedly be viewed as more partisan and less favorable than Klobuchar as well much more negative than he was before the 2008 campaign heated up last spring. (Coleman's unfavorability numbers still exceed 50 percent, according to a December 4th Rasmussen poll).

With dozens of millions of dollars spent on the U.S. Senate race to date, Coleman hasn't been able to afford to play Minnesota Nice, and that legacy, unfortunately for the Senator, may ultimately overshadow his own bipartisan voting record - at least in the near future.

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  • I think this article misses the resurrection of two events hurting Senator Coleman. One, getting an upscale Washington apartment from a political friend, far below market value and including utilities, and Two, $75,000 illegally sent under the table, from another political friend, to help with the $414,000 remodeling of his home.

    These incidents show very serious lapses of judgment when "pay-to-play", quid-pro-quo, and political favors trump his legal responsibility to the people of Minnesota. If Coleman is found guilty of these crimes, he should be entitled to have his rent reduced even more at the "graybar hotel."

  • > I think this article misses the resurrection of two events hurting
    > Senator Coleman.

    On the flip side, Klobuchar benefited from a blow-out victory in 2006 and was therefore able to emerge from her campaign with an image that was rather unscathed. Although, one might argue her positive, 'Minnesota Nice' image contributed to that blowout margin.

  • Klob trundles into the Senate on her name, the populist images of an Iron Range heritage Minnesotans keep in the present mythology. Of course, she has real experience as Attorney General, 'tough on crime,' (Is anyone soft on crime?), a product of DFL machinery. What in her background makes her ready? The history eludes me, after years of eager consumption of DFL filtered news.

    Mr Coleman, on the other hand, has worked a bit harder. He has a record of entering the fray and winning. His story is more compelling. Yet, what has the DFL filter told us of his work higher up? Nothing but "...9X% in line with BUSH..."

    He was just wonderful stuff in St Paul as a Democrat. Switch parties, stay on message, and keep working: Minnesotan's don't like the product as much. Just curious, but writing about "SMART" politics dotes on smiles and cultural name tags that are demonstrable baloney (Mn Nice is a trite, dull claim that hides a bigotry just as cold as any other).

    I challenge this blogger to reach further into their ambitions for us, the consumers, to teach us from the facts instead of sophmoric stuff about smiles. Klobuchar's smile is just as practiced and phony as any other I've seen. For the political class, I liken their toothy distractions to the famous line from a TV show of the past: "I've learned that behind every smile is a row of very sharp teeth..."

    Now, where'd that dental plan of mine go...

  • > I challenge this blogger to reach further into their ambitions for
    > us, the consumers, to teach us from the facts instead of
    > sophmoric stuff about smiles. Klobuchar's smile is just as
    > practiced and phony as any other I've seen.

    I've seen both Senators speak several times, and let's just say there is a big difference in how each walks into a room and the effect they have on the audience (whether the disposition, at its core, is contrived in either case). These (somewhat subjective) comments about 'sunniness' and other character traits are undeniably actual components in determining an officeholder's constituent favorability rating. And Klobuchar's is trouncing Coleman's at this point in time.

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    Remains of the Data

    Who Has Won the Most Votes in US Senate Electoral History?

    Only three of the Top 10 and nine of the Top 50 vote-getters of all time are currently serving in the chamber.

    Political Crumbs

    Six for Thirteen

    Collin Peterson remarked last month that he is leaning to run for reelection to Minnesota's 7th Congressional District in 2016. If he does and is victorious, he will creep even closer to the top of the list of the longest-serving U.S. Representatives in Minnesota history. The DFL congressman is only the sixth Minnesotan to win at least 13 terms to the U.S. House of the 135 elected to the chamber in state history. Peterson trails 18-term DFLer Jim Oberstar (1975-2011), 16-term Republicans Harold Knutson (1917-1949) and August Andresen (1925-1933; 1935-1958), and 14-term DFLers Martin Sabo (1979-2007) and John Blatnik (1947-1974). Andresen died in office, Sabo and Blatnik retired, and Knutson and Oberstar were defeated at the ballot box in 1948 and 2010 respectively. At 70 years, 7 months, 11 days through Monday, Peterson is currently the ninth oldest Gopher State U.S. Representative in history. DFLer Rick Nolan of the 8th CD is the seventh oldest at 71 years, 1 month, 23 days.

    Seeing Red

    Congressman Nick Rahall's failed bid for a 20th term in West Virginia this cycle, combined with a narrow loss by Nick Casey to Alex Mooney in Shelley Moore Capito's open seat, means that West Virginia Democrats will be shut out of the state's U.S. House delegation for the first time in over 90 years. The Republican sweep by two-term incumbent David McKinley in the 1st CD, Mooney in the 2nd, and Evan Jenkins over Rahall in the 3rd marks the first time the GOP has held all seats in the chamber from West Virginia since the Election of 1920. During the 67th Congress (1921-1923) all six seats from the state were controlled by the GOP. Since the Election of 1922, Democrats have won 76 percent of all U.S. House elections in the Mountain State - capturing 172 seats compared to 54 for the GOP.


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