Go to HHH home page.
Smart Politics
 


Getting to 15 Percent: Two Different Paths for Dean Barkley (’08) and Tim Penny (’02)

Bookmark and Share

Independence Party nominee Dean Barkley’s U.S. Senate candidacy was of great interest to the media and political junkies leading up to the 2008 election. Could Barkley launch a Ventura-esque come-from-behind victory? Would his presence on the ballot hurt Al Franken more than Norm Coleman? Would he raise enough money to even run television ads - and, if so, would they be as buzzworthy as Ventura's?

Barkley has now all but vanished from the media during a Senate recount of an election for which he nonetheless played a very significant role.

Barkley defied skeptics and academics that thought he would fade into single digits by Election Day. Instead, the former appointed Senator ended up with 15.2 percent of the vote – the largest total for a third party candidate in a Minnesota U.S. Senate race since the DFL merger in 1944.

Though Barkley’s campaign was run much differently than Independence Party candidate Tim Penny's in the 2002 gubernatorial election, they earned a nearly identical percentage of the vote (16.2 percent for Penny in an election Republican Tim Pawlenty won by 7.9 points). (Penny also endorsed Barkley for his Senate bid).

Indeed, Barkley and Penny took two entirely different paths to reach 15 and 16 percent respectively:

Penny not only reached the 30 percent mark in three-way polling as late as the September before the election, but he also won 7 counties (Waseca, Freeborn, Faribault, Fillmore, Mower, Dodge, Olmsted) and came in 2nd place in 8 more (Steele, Wabasha, Houston, Blue Earth, Le Sueur, Winona, Goodhue, Martin).

Barkley, meanwhile, never eclipsed the 20 percent mark in any public poll, and came in third place in each of the state’s 87 counties on Election Day.

Penny, of course, was able to leverage his base support in the southeastern counties of the state – whose 1st Congressional District he served as a DFLer from 1983 to 1995. Penny won two of those counties with more than 50 percent of the vote (Waseca and Freeborn), earned more than 40 percent of the vote in 5 other counties, and 30+ percent of the vote in 7 more.

Barkley, on the other hand, did not earn more than 30 percent of the vote in any county in the state; his highest tally was 26 percent in Sibley County. However, Barkley impressively tallied double-digit numbers in all but three counties statewide (Houston, Rock, and Pipestone).

Because Penny’s support was regionally based, his votes were stretched thin across the rest of the state: Penny received less than 10 percent of the vote in 11 counties – eight more than Barkley (Roseau, Polk, Clearwater, Kittson, Marshall, Beltrami, Norman, Clay, Red Lake, Wilkin, and Pennington).

Barkley and Penny fared about the same in the state’s most populous counties: 14 percent for Penny in Hennepin compared to 13 percent for Barkley and 12 percent for Penny in Ramsey compared to 13 percent for Barkley.

What does Barkley’s more consistent support statewide tell us about his campaign? On the one hand, it could mean that his base of support was strong – and the fact that his polling numbers were very consistent from late September through Election Day might be evidence of this. On the other hand, as Barkley largely relied on the debates for his media coverage to reach voters, it is possible a substantial segment of his voters across the state were folks turned off by the expensive, nasty fight between Coleman and Franken - as their ads did reach every corner of the state.

Whatever the reason, both Barkley and Penny deserve credit for giving the Independence Party an (uninvited) seat at the table alongside the DFL and the GOP in elections to come.

County-Wide Support for Tim Penny (2002) and Dean Barkley (2008)

Percent
Penny
Barkley
50+
2
0
40-49
5
0
30-39
7
0
20-29
7
17
10-19
55
67
0-9
11
3



Previous post: Will Violent Crime in Minnesota Increase Along With the Jobless Rate?
Next post: Crime and the Minnesota Economy Revisited: Brace for Property Crime Surge

Leave a comment


Remains of the Data

Is There a Presidential Drag On Gubernatorial Elections?

Only five of the 20 presidents to serve since 1900 have seen their party win a majority of gubernatorial elections during their administrations, and only one since JFK.

Political Crumbs

Strike Three for Miller-Meeks

Iowa Republicans had a banner day on November 4th, picking up both a U.S. Senate seat and one U.S. House seat, but Mariannette Miller-Meeks' defeat in her third attempt to oust Democrat Dave Loebsack in the 2nd CD means the GOP will not have a monopoly on the state's congressional delegation in the 114th Congress. The loss by Miller-Meeks (following up her defeats in 2008 and 2010) means major party nominees who lost their first two Iowa U.S. House races are now 0 for 10 the third time around in Iowa history. Miller-Meeks joins Democrat William Leffingwell (1858, 1868, 1870), Democrat Anthony Van Wagenen (1894, 1912 (special), 1912), Democrat James Murtagh (1906, 1914, 1916), Democrat Clair Williams (1944, 1946, 1952), Democrat Steven Carter (1948, 1950, 1956), Republican Don Mahon (1966, 1968, 1970), Republican Tom Riley (1968, 1974, 1976), Democrat Eric Tabor (1986, 1988, 1990), and Democrat Bill Gluba (1982, 1988, 2004) on the Hawkeye State's Three Strikes list.


Larry Pressler Wins the Silver

Larry Pressler may have fallen short in his long-shot, underfunded, and understaffed bid to return to the nation's upper legislative chamber, but he did end up notching the best showing for a non-major party South Dakota U.S. Senate candidate in more than 90 years. Pressler won 17.1 percent of the vote which is the best showing for an independent or third party U.S. Senate candidate in the state since 1920 when non-partisan candidate Tom Ayres won 24.1 percent in a race won by Republican Peter Norbeck. Overall, Pressler's 17.1 percent is good for the second best mark for a non-major party candidate across the 35 U.S. Senate contests in South Dakota history. Independent and third party candidates have appeared on the South Dakota U.S. Senate ballot just 25 times over the last century and only three have reached double digits: Pressler in 2014 and Ayres in 1920 and 1924 (12.1 percent). Pressler's defeat means he won't become the oldest candidate elected to the chamber in South Dakota history nor notch the record for the longest gap in service in the direct election era.


more POLITICAL CRUMBS

Humphrey School Sites
CSPG
Humphrey New Media Hub

Issues />

<div id=
Abortion
Afghanistan
Budget and taxes
Campaign finances
Crime and punishment
Economy and jobs
Education
Energy
Environment
Foreign affairs
Gender
Health
Housing
Ideology
Immigration
Iraq
Media
Military
Partisanship
Race and ethnicity
Reapportionment
Redistricting
Religion
Sexuality
Sports
Terrorism
Third parties
Transportation
Voting