Go to HHH home page.
Smart Politics
 


The Unsinkable Michele Bachmann

Bookmark and Share

The Rothenberg Political Report came out with its first U.S. House rankings for the 2010 election cycle on Wednesday, and both of Minnesota's competitive Republican-held Congressional districts made the list. Erik Paulsen's 3rd CD and Michele Bachmann's 6th CD are listed as "Republican favored" - two of ten GOP seats highlighted by Rothenberg as likely Democratic targets nationwide.

Bachmann continues to mystify national (and some statewide) observers, by winning elections despite making headlines for controversial statements (e.g. interviews on Hardball, KTLX).

Bachmann's performance in the 2008 election is frequently characterized as "a close race that had no business being close" - in reference to the Republican-leaning tendencies of the district and the subsequent large sums of money that poured into her DFL opponent El Tinklenberg's coffers after Bachmann's infamous exchange on Chris Matthew's Hardball program in mid-October.

However, a Smart Politics analysis of Bachmann's 6th Congressional District since redistricting in 2002 shows that Bachmann was not simply fighting her own indelicate words, but a definite Democratic wave that has bubbled up in her district (just as it has statewide). In short, Bachmann deserves some credit for extending her political half life.

The 6th Congressional District is comprised of 24 House Districts - 12 completely located in the 6th (14A, 15A, 15B, 16B, 19A, 19B, 48A, 48B, 49A, 51A, 52A, 56A) and 12 partially located in the 6th (13A, 14B, 16A, 17A, 18B, 32A, 49B, 51B, 52B, 53A, 56B, 57B).

· In 2002, only 2 of these 24 districts, 15B (St. Cloud) and 51B (Blaine) elected DFL Representatives to St. Paul.

· In 2004, 3 districts voted DFLers into office, adding 14B (Cold Spring, St. Joseph etc.) to the list.

· By 2006, however, in Bachmann's first victory to the U.S. House, 7 DFLers were elected - adding Representatives from Districts 51A (Blaine), 53A (Lino Lakes), 56A (Lake Elmo, Woodbury), and 56B (Woodbury).

· In 2008, Republicans took back HD 51A with Tim Sanders' victory, but lost two more districts along the way: 16A (Baldwin) and 49B (Andover, Coon Rapids), bringing the DFL total to 8.

Moreover, the average Republican margin of victory in these 24 state legislative districts has decreased in every year since redistricting: from 13.4 points in 2002 to 12.9 points in 2004, to 6.9 points in 2006, to 6.5 points in 2008.

Seats by Party and Republican Victory Margin in House Districts Comprising the 6th Congressional District

Year
DFL seats
GOP seats
GOP MoV
2008
8
16
6.5
2006
7
17
6.9
2004
3
21
12.9
2002
2
22
13.4
Note: GOP margin of victory determined by the average net difference between the Republican and DFL candidates in each House District race.

GOP Margin of Victory in House District Races Comprising the 6th Congressional District, 2002-2008

District
2002
2004
2006
2008
% 6th District
13A
21.3
33.9
39.1
16.9
19.6
14A
2.0
24.1
7.9
10.1
100.0
14B
33.8
-4.1
-14.8
-34.3
98.8
15A
14.3
26.5
9.1
7.4
100.0
15B
-18.3
-28.1
-30.1
-34.7
100.0
16A
20.1
8.6
2.7
-0.4
34.6
16B
16.2
23.3
16.3
27.5
100.0
17A
6.5
6.0
1.1
9.6
15.2
18B
13.4
11.4
5.9
17.5
44.1
19A
21.3
16.9
16.5
5.1
100.0
19B
2.3
20.2
21.3
21.8
100.0
32A
35.4
27.0
29.6
32.5
4.8
48A
18.7
15.9
11.9
20.2
100.0
48B
14.5
25.9
21.2
30.4
100.0
49A
28.5
26.1
20.7
18.7
100.0
49B
15.8
12.4
8.8
-13.4
16.5
51A
9.5
10.5
-6.0
4.6
100.0
51B
-21.7
-13.3
-19.4
-23.9
17.7
52A
22.1
18.8
10.1
34.2
100.0
52B
17.6
3.3
3.8
11.3
77.0
53A
15.0
8.6
-0.3
-4.7
57.3
56A
3.9
5.9
-1.3
-5.6
100.0
56B
18.7
9.2
-2.3
-10.1
95.2
57B
10.3
20.9
13.5
14.5
9.9
Note: Final column denotes the percentage of voters in the House District that vote in the 6th Congressional District.

In addition to what was happening down the ballot, the partisan winds of change Bachmann was fighting in her district can also be measured by comparing the 2004 and 2008 presidential races. In 2008 Barack Obama nearly sliced John Kerry's 14.4-point deficit in the 6th CD in half - losing by an 8.7-point margin to John McCain (53.3 to 44.6 percent).

True, Bachmann is a lightning rod for the left. But while it is convenient for some in the media and blogosphere to blame her tightly contested 2008 race against Tinklenberg on her not-so-politically-savvy Hardball comments and her unflinchingly conservative ideology, this DFL-trending data suggests the 6th was going to be a single-digit race regardless (though probably closer to 6 or 7 points than the 3 points by which Tinklenberg eventually lost).

The 6th Congressional District vote in 9 of the 24 house districts has increasingly tilted more Democratic in three consecutive elections dating back to Mark Kennedy's second to last term in 2002: in districts 13A, 14A, 14B, 15A, 15B, 18B, 19A, 52B, and 56A.

Only two house districts have given Bachmann an increasing margin of victory in 2006 and 2008 compared to the margin Kennedy received in 2004: districts 17A (Saint Francis) and 48A (Elk River, East Bethel).

As a result, the number of House Districts in which the DFL U.S. House candidate carried the 6th CD has increased from 1 in 2002, to 5 in 2004, to 6 in 2006, to 10 in 2008: 14A, 14B, 15A, 15B, 51A, 51B, 52B, 56A, 56B, 57B.

GOP Margin of Victory in 6th Congressional District Races by State House District, 2002-2008

District
2002
2004
2006
2008
% 6th District
13A
35.1
40.0
37.2
24.9
19.6
14A
18.6
12.8
12.0
-0.6
100.0
14B
19.1
13.5
11.8
-1.7
98.8
15A
18.1
7.5
5.3
-8.4
100.0
15B
3.7
-9.8
-11.3
-19.5
100.0
16A
22.5
18.3
20.1
12.7
34.6
16B
30.4
17.2
19.2
17.7
100.0
17A
26.7
8.4
9.5
12.3
15.2
18B
29.1
15.1
13.9
13.1
44.1
19A
29.9
14.1
11.8
9.1
100.0
19B
34.2
19.5
19.9
16.1
100.0
32A
38.8
23.5
25.6
20.1
4.8
48A
22.9
10.9
11.6
11.8
100.0
48B
18.5
4.3
4.4
4.1
100.0
49A
29.1
15.2
16.7
14.2
100.0
49B
25.5
6.6
11.0
3.2
16.5
51A
13.4
-1.7
-1.5
-8.1
100.0
51B
-4.0
-15.9
-13.6
-23.9
17.7
52A
21.0
6.3
8.7
5.8
100.0
52B
21.9
0.6
-1.7
-4.7
77.0
53A
19.8
3.0
4.7
1.2
57.3
56A
21.5
-1.6
-3.2
-6.0
100.0
56B
23.6
0.3
0.5
-6.0
95.2
57B
16.8
-9.0
-10.0
-9.4
9.9
Note: Final column denotes the percentage of voters in the respective House District that vote in the 6th Congressional District.

Bachmann's success in defying the upward DFL-trend in her district can also perhaps partially be attributed to the 'Ted Stevens Media Backlash Effect.' Once upon a time, just shy of Election Day, public opinion polls showed the vast majority of Alaskans were not of the mind to reelect GOPer Stevens (or at-large Republican Representative Don Young). Until, that is, the national media told them how they were going to vote (or should vote).

Likewise, the anti-Bachmann media blitz that permeated the Twin Cities metro area and the national stage in the few weeks leading up to the election became to be seen, to some voters, as an attack on the 6th District itself (and certainly on those residents who had voted her into office in 2006). Combine that with the fact that Bachmann's comments on Hardball probably were not seen as that controversial to many 6th CD voters, and one has a backlash in the making.

Alaskans responded by easily reelecting a U.S. Representative into office who was at the periphery of the state's corruption scandal and by nearly reelecting Stevens, a convicted felon, to the Senate.

Minnesotans in the the 6th District responded in kind by holding back the Democratic wave just enough to successfully defend Bachmann's seat, and, perhaps, in their view, their own pride.

As such, despite the fact that many on the left go to bed at night praying Bachmann's recent comments on KTLX regarding the country 'running out of rich people' will be the comment that leads to her undoing, they are going to be sorely disappointed. Bachmann has shown she can not only dust herself off the ground, but she can do so immaculately, even in the face of a Democratic windstorm.

And if there is any movement back to the GOP in partisan ID, Bachmann should win reelection by a much more comfortable margin in 2010.

Previous post: Obama's Economic and Fiscal Crises Address: An End, Or a Means to an End?
Next post: Breaking News Analysis: Minnesota's January Unemployment Numbers Set State Records

13 Comments


  • All this analysis and fancy numbers is meaningless because you ignore the single most important factor in Bachmann winning: a phony IP candiate who ran with the IP designation next to his name on the ballot when he wasn't even endorsed by the IP. This was due to a fluke in our election laws that prohibited Tinklenberg from being identified as a DFL-endorsed and an IP-endorsed candidate. This, even though the IP endorsed HIM and not the phony candidate, who simply gamed the system to get on the ballot under the IP banner by running unopposed in the primary as an IP candidate. He got 10% of the vote--a factor that clearly affected the election, since most of these voters were disaffected Republicans who couldn't stand the thought of returning Bachmann to Congress.

  • So, which argument are you making? This one:

    > you ignore the single most important factor in Bachmann
    > winning: a phony IP candiate who ran with the IP
    > designation next to his name on the ballot when he wasn't
    > even endorsed by the IP.

    Or this one:

    > He got 10% of the vote--a factor that clearly affected the
    > election, since most of these voters were disaffected
    > Republicans who couldn't stand the thought of returning
    > Bachmann to Congress.

    Also, for the record, in the SurveyUSA poll conducted the week before the election, Anderson was receiving the support of 5% of Democrats and 6% of Republicans.

  • Let's face it, her opponent was weak. Tinklenberg was not outgoing, he refused interviews, he wasn't young and vibrant, and he never put himself "out there". Sure he had good ideas and he's not crazy, but people seem to like Bachmann's flubs. Those flubs are exactly what keep her in the news. Up against the very outgoing Bachmann, her opponent needed twice the press, and he didn't get it. I don't blame the media, I blame the candidate. Tinklenberg, in short, was a dud candidate with a very confusing name. Face it, who even wanted to say his name? This is my message to Democrats in the next election: pick a candidate who is young, vibrant and talkative with a short, attractive, easy to remember and say name. Promote the heck out of them and tell them to do every interview that is offered. Tinklenberg was too good for some media that he didn't like and it made him appear aloof. Bachmann is anything but aloof.

    If Democrats pick a young outgoing candidate next time, they will win. I think people are looking for a big reason to not vote for her but she's the incumbant. And I hate to say this, but hardly anyone in central MN watches Chris Matthews and no one will remember her rich people quote by election time. The Dems just need a better candidate to run against her and highlight her many weaknesses.

  • I see two problems with the theory. One is that it doesn't account for the IP candidate taking 10%. If you think that effect was a wash then everything else might hold up, otherwise there's an equally valid theory that non-Bachmann voters split their votes.

    In Alaska, their governor was VP candidate, which could account for higher than expected Republican votes down the ballot.

    These are "could haves", but there's also no evidence for the wounded pride idea.

  • > I see two problems with the theory. One is that it doesn't
    > account for the IP candidate taking 10%. If you think that
    > effect was a wash then everything else might hold up,
    > otherwise there's an equally valid theory that non-Bachmann
    > voters split their votes.

    As I wrote in my comment above, the SurveyUSA poll conducted the week before the election, Anderson was receiving the support of 5% of Democrats and 6% of Republicans - basically splitting the partisans down the middle. Anderson was also a right of center IP candidate, not a "Peter Hutchinson type."

    > In Alaska, their governor was VP candidate, which could
    > account for higher than expected Republican votes down
    > the ballot.

    Though surely all Alaskan voters already knew Palin was the VP candidate in the two polls that were conducted a week before the election that had Begich winning by 8 and 22 points (and had Young losing by 9 points).

    > but there's also no evidence for the wounded pride idea.

    True - i guess it's more of a wounded pride notion combined with the independent / libertarian / no-one-is-going-to-tell-me-what-to-do-especially-the-liberal-media streak, that is prominent in Alaska and, I am hypothesizing, perhaps more prevalent that one thought in the 6th.

  • So, which argument are you making? This one:

    > you ignore the single most important factor in Bachmann
    > winning: a phony IP candiate who ran with the IP
    > designation next to his name on the ballot when he wasn't
    > even endorsed by the IP.

    Or this one:

    > He got 10% of the vote--a factor that clearly affected the
    > election, since most of these voters were disaffected
    > Republicans who couldn't stand the thought of returning
    > Bachmann to Congress.

    I'm making both, and they are not incompatible. If Anderson had not been in the race, Bachmann's high negatives among moderate Republicans in the district suggest that many of those moderate Republicans would have held their nose and voted for Tinklenberg. And most of the Democrats would have done the same, giving Tinklenberg more than enough to overcome the 3% he lost by with Anderson in the race.

    Two years earlier, a legitimate and more visible IP candidate only polled 7% when a far more liberal DFLer was running. In 2008, a more moderate Tinklenberg polled higher than Wetterling did in 2006, indicating that a higher percentage of IP voters were Republicans disgusted with their candidate rather than DFLers disgusted with theirs. With the more moderate Tinklenberg running in 2008, it's likely that most of that 10% IP vote would have gone to the DFL had Anderson not run or had the voters known that Tinklenberg, and not Anderson, was the IP-endorsed candidate. Either that, or they would have just stayed home.


    >Also, for the record, in the SurveyUSA poll conducted the >week before the election, Anderson was receiving the >support of 5% of Democrats and 6% of Republicans.


    You base the entire premise of your argument on a single questionable poll of independent (read protest) voters, thus dismissing 10% of the votes cast in the 6th. Sorry, I'm not buying that, and not many others are either. We can thank Bob Anderson's sham campaign (even he admitted it was a sham, not spending a nickle) for re-electing Michele Bachmann. Call it the theory of unintended consequences if you don't want to point the finger at Anderson directly, but that's where the blame lies.

  • > You base the entire premise of your argument on a single
    > questionable poll of independent (read protest) voters, thus
    > dismissing 10% of the votes cast in the 6th.

    But it's not just one poll. There is evidence from both SurveyUSA polls conducted in late October 2008 that Anderson was splitting partisans down the middle, or drawing slightly more support from the GOP than the Dems:

    * SurveyUSA's October 29-30 poll: Anderson received support of 5% of Democrats and 6% of Republicans.

    * SurveyUSA's October 21-22 poll: Anderson received support of 3% of Democrats and 4% of Republicans.

    Also, your theory presumes that DFL voters who purportedly flocked to Anderson, a) did not know he was a right of center candidate on the issues, and b) if they did know, they didn't care.

    For example, Anderson was an advocate of sending the National Guard to the southern border. He was also not advocating for a quick withdrawal from Iraq (Anderson supported General Petraeus' plan).

    So, which is it? Did these DFL voters have no idea what Anderson stood for, or they didn't care that he held these "Republican-friendly" views?

  • "... Bachmann should win reelection by a much more comfortable margin in 2010."

    I agree, particularly in view of the trend in off-year elections for the party in control of the White House (Democrats in 2010) to lose ground.

    However, Bachmann is not unsinkable.

    She can be torpedoed in Minnesota's open Republican primary by a broad cross-partisan coalition of reasonable Republicans, independents, and cross-over Democrats.

    I ran just such a pilot project in a short, 57-day, self-funded Republican primary challenge against Bachmann in 2008.

    While it's true that I received just 14% of the vote in the Republican primary, it's also true that Bachmann received only a plurality (47.2%) of the total primary vote on Sept. 9, 2008, proving that Bachmann can be defeated with a united anti-Bachmann vote in the Republican column.

    I'm currently in the process of building a broad cross-partisan coalition to defeat Bachmann, but it's a challenge, because no doubt there will be a politically ambitious Democrat who thinks he or she can achieve what neither Patty Wetterling nor Elwyn Tinklenberg after the "Hardball" fiasco could, thus dividing the vote yet again and returning Bachmann to Congress for two more years.

    Bachmann will not be defeated in a conventional political campaign.

  • Michelle Bachmann will loose when the voters of the 6th district decide that they are no longer willing to suffer the embarrassment of electing to congress a member who is nuts when that member is also incompetent. Michelle Bachmann is so totally marginalized by her madness that she useless to her constituents. MB's public comments are so deficient or deceptive in matters of fact that they leave her with no credibility on either side of the aisle.

    In the coming session, as in the past one, Congresswoman Bachmann will accomplish nothing on her agenda; she will not write a single amendment that will be added to any bill that actually passes. I don't know if there ever was a good time, but this is definitely a bad time to send the village idiot to Washington. It's not funny anymore. George Bush ruined that for everybody.

    I have activist friends in D.C. who had more influence on actual legislation in the last session of congress, than Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann and they deliver pizza for a living. They did it by becoming an asset to congressional staffers; by doing the hard work of research and delivering reliable information on matters that mattered to them. There would be no point for an activist to attempt to establish such a relationship with the office of Michelle Bachmann — the positions she takes do not depend upon data.

    Michelle Bachmann is the remnant of an era of right-wing ideology that diverted our attention from serious problems into a litany "wedge issues." Those interminable debates over right-wing moralizing accomplished nothing for anyone; at the same time the intrusive moralists gave thieves the combination to Fort Knox. That lapse of attention to America's business has left us in a terrible mess. Michelle Bachmann's presence in congress contributes nothing to my children's future.

  • Here's a simple plan to defeat Michelle Bachmann:

    1. Cross over into the GOP primary. Unite to help Aubrey Immelman sort her out in that primary... problem solved.

    2. If that fails and MB is the GOP nominee, communicate to Bob Anderson, as I have, that as long as MB is the Republican nominee, he can not run as the IP candidate, without admitting that he is in the race as a stalking-horse, working for the Bachmann campaign.

    3. While El Tinklenberg seems like a competent and very decent man, the Democratic party must either send El to charm school or recruit a stronger candidate. Actually, this is most important. While she continually discredits herself, do not count on Bachmann's self-destruction, prepare to defeat her. MB is a weak candidate. She is mentally, morally and politically weak. Even in a Christian-Right district, nobody takes pride in supporting a liar; nobody wants to vote for a member who routinely fails to show up for important hearings in her ONLY committee. As well as being a public fool, Michelle Bachmann is a professional flake... communicate that clearly and she's history.

    4. Support the good folks at dumpmichellebachmann.org, who do the invaluable work of tracking public expressions of MB's madness and incompetence. They provide a unique and powerful asset in this quest and deserve enthusiastic support from the community they work so hard serve.

  • Part of the reason that Michele Bachmann gets elected, and reelected is that local media (especially the Star Tribune and Pioneer Press) have suppressed stories of her nutty statements and actions.

    Michele Bachmann CAN be defeated with a candidate of the quality of Betsy Markey in Colorado, who defeated the Michele Bachmann clone Marilyn Musgrave. If the DFL wants to defeat Bachmann, they need to invest now in a full time tracker for Bachmann, and more of her interviews on right wing radio need to get rebroadcast to wider audiences.

    Bachmann's active efforts to hurt endorsements of Kathy Tinglestad have earned her some enmity from more moderate Republicans in the area. She has also alienated local officials, and notably, the St Cloud Chamber of Commerce took no position on the 6th District race. This can only be taken as a huge slap in the face to Michele Bachmann. The DFLer who runs has to make efforts to speak at local chamber meetings - especially the St Cloud and Greater Stillwater area Chambers.

  • Hi Congresswoman Bachmann,

    Please share the following LINK with your friends and supporters.
    We might be in the process of discovering a new voice of Leadership. --> Strong, Moral, Clear, Competent, Confident, Humorous, Informed.
    It's a National Leadership Speakers' POLL --

    http://poll.pollcode.com/ztei


    For the record, TODAY, 19 April 2009, the leaders in this poll are --
    Jason Lewis- 15 votes
    Rush Limbaugh, Mike Huckabee- 7 votes each
    Laura Ingraham- 6 votes
    Glenn Beck and Michele Bachmann - 5 votes EACH
    Sarah Palin - 4 votes
    Sue Jeffers, Ron Paul - 3 votes each
    Barack Obama - 2 votes
    The following speakers had 1 vote each:
    Sean Hannity, Mitt Romney, Bill O'Reilly, Newt Gingrich, Joe Soucheray, Geraldo Rivera, Dave Ramsey, Lou Dobbs and Chris Matthews.

    from John Lukens
    Twin Cities, Minnesota

  • Leave a comment


    Remains of the Data

    Which States Have the Longest and Shortest Election Day Voting Hours?

    Residents in some North Dakota towns have less than half as many hours to cast their ballots as those in New York State.

    Political Crumbs

    Does My Key Still Work?

    Much has been made about Charlie Crist's political transformation from Republican to independent to Democrat en route to winning the Florida GOP and Democratic gubernatorial nominations over a span of eight years. Party-switching aside, Crist is also vying to become just the second Florida governor to serve two interrupted terms. Democrat William Bloxham was the first - serving four year terms from 1881 to 1885 and then 1897 to 1901. Florida did not permit governors serving consecutive terms for most of its 123 years prior to changes made in its 1968 constitution. Since then four have done so: Democrats Reubin Askew, Bob Graham, and Lawton Chiles and Republican Jeb Bush.


    No 100-Year Curse for Roberts

    Defeating his Tea Party primary challenger Milton Wolf with just 48.1 percent of the vote, Pat Roberts narrowly escaped becoming the first elected U.S. Senator from Kansas to lose a renomination bid in 100 years. The last - and so far only - elected U.S. Senator to lose a Kansas primary was one-term Republican Joseph Bristow in 1914. Bristow was defeated by former U.S. Senator Charles Curtis who went on to win three terms before becoming Herbert Hoover's running mate in 1928. Only one other U.S. Senator from the Sunflower State has lost a primary since the passage of the 17th Amendment: Sheila Frahm in 1996. Frahm was appointed to fill Bob Dole's seat earlier that year and finished 13.2 points behind Sam Brownback in the three-candidate primary field. Overall, incumbent senators from Kansas have won 29 times against two defeats in the direct vote era. (Curtis also lost a primary in 1912 to Walter Stubbs, one year before the nation moved to direct elections).


    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