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Smart Politics
 


April 2009


Why Governor Pawlenty Is Not in the 'Danger Zone'

The headline from the latest Star Tribune Minnesota Poll results released on Thursday morning reads: "Pawlenty's popularity loses some luster, edging toward 'danger zone'" The new poll measured Pawlenty's approval rating at 48 percent in the Gopher State, which the Star Tribune writes, "is lower than it has ever been."...

Obama Approval Rating Holding Steady in Minnesota and Blue States, Still Dropping in Red States

Barack Obama's latest approval rating in Minnesota remains in the low 60s - holding essentially, and impressively, flat for the third consecutive month, according to the latest round of polling by SurveyUSA. For the month of April, in a survey of 600 adults statewide, 63 percent of Minnesotans approve of...

Will Arlen Specter Win in 2010?

When Pennsylvania U.S. Senator Arlen Specter switched from the Republican to the Democratic Party on Tuesday morning, the first question asked was not why he bolted from the GOP, but how his change in party affiliation will impact the Democratic majority's quest for a filibuster-proof 60 votes on key legislation...

'Darfur 5' in Little Jeopardy of Losing Congressional Seats

The arrest of Minnesota Representative Keith Ellison and four other members of Congress Monday morning for crossing a police line at the Sudanese Embassy in Washington, D.C. brought front-page attention to the humanitarian crisis and atrocities occurring in the Darfur region of Sudan, but is not likely to bring any...

New Yorker's Jane Mayer to Speak on Terrorism at Humphrey Institute

Author and New Yorker contributor Jane Mayer will be giving a talk on terrorism and the politics of the Barack Obama administration at the Humphrey Institute on Tuesday afternoon. "Can Obama Avoid the Dark Side? Learning from how the War on Terror turned into the War on American Ideals" Jane...

Minnesota's 'McCain 14' Split on House Tax Increase

Although House DFLers were able to push through a tax bill on Saturday to raise approximately $1.5 billion in revenue for the State of Minnesota, 20 percent of its caucus peeled off to join the Republicans in voting against the legislation. The DFL was able to pass the tax hike...

Keith Ellison Campaign Funding Data Revisited: A Response to the Congressman's Complaint

Last Friday, Congressman Keith Ellison's communications director Rick Jauert responded to recent data unearthed and analzyed by Smart Politics that Ellison was receiving an unusual amount of itemized individual contributions from out-of-state, both in Q1 2009 (when he had the highest percentage of such contributions among Minnesota's delegation), and ever...

Iowa Least Affected by Unemployment Increases in the Upper Midwest

Although the unemployment numbers released during the past week by Iowa Workforce Development find the Hawkeye State with its highest seasonally adjusted jobless rate since December 1987, Iowans are not losing their jobs at the rate endured by other Upper Midwestern states. At 5.2 percent, Iowa's current unemployment rate is...

Who Does Keith Ellison Represent? (And Why Aren't Minnesotans Funding His Campaigns?)

The FEC's Q1 2009 campaign finance data reveals several interesting facts about how Minnesota's U.S. Representatives fund their campaigns. Earlier in the week, Smart Politics documented that GOP Representative Michele Bachmann received the largest percentage of contributions from individuals and small donors among the state's U.S. House delegation, and...

Pawlenty's Political Future: When Will We Know?

Although taxes and vetoes are the talk of the town today, reporters at the State Capitol would still like to know the answer to the question: "When is Governor Tim Pawlenty going to announce his future political plans?" Most analysts and pundits, homegrown and in D.C., have come to the...

Why the Bachmann 'Revolution' Is a Grassroots Phenomenon

Heads turned last week upon the release of Congresswoman Michele Bachmann's impressive Q1 2009 fundraising data - outpacing all her Gopher State colleagues by nearly $100,000. Eyes rolled on some liberal blogs yesterday after Smart Politics characterized Representative Bachmann's fundraising efforts as a sign of her success at tapping into...

Bachmann's Media Blitz Increasing Statewide, Not National, Fundraising

When the Federal Election Commission (FEC) released its Q1 2009 campaign fundraising data at the end of last week, the Minnesota media largely focused on how Michele Bachmann lead the Minnesota U.S. House delegation in contributions received. But reports on Representative Bachmann's fundraising success, and growing national profile, missed the...

Wisconsin Unemployment Rate Eclipses Minnesota for First Time Since Summer 2007

For those wondering why Wisconsin’s evaluation of the job performance of President Barack Obama, its Governor, Jim Doyle, and its U.S. Senators, Herb Kohl and Russ Feingold, has been quite critical in recent months, one may only need to stop and consider the record-setting trend in unemployment the Badger State...

Minnesota Unemployment Rate Slows to Smallest Increase Since September

Although Minnesota’s new March unemployment numbers, released this morning by the state's Department of Employment and Economic Development, are the highest since May 1983, the 8.2 percent seasonally adjusted rate marks the slowest rate of decline in jobs in the Gopher State in half a year. Jobless claims rose from...

South Dakota Unemployment Rate Reaches 23+ Year High

South Dakota’s Department of Labor announced the state’s new March 2009 unemployment numbers Wednesday morning – numbers which find the Mouth Rushmore State enduring its highest jobless rate in more than 23 years. The seasonally adjusted March 2009 unemployment rate of 4.9 percent is the highest in South Dakota since...

Political Luminaries Rally in Support of Ranked Choice Voting at FairVote Minnesota Fundraiser

More than two hundred Minnesotans - from party leaders, to legislators, to mayors, to city council members, to interested citizens - rallied in support of ranked choice voting at a fundraising event held for FairVote Minnesota in Minneapolis Tuesday evening. Ranked choice voting (aka instant runoff voting, or IRV) passed...

Minnesota 2nd Most Competitive State for U.S. Senate Elections Since 1990

With the three-judge panel ruling on Monday that Al Franken received more legally cast votes than Norm Coleman, the Minnesota 2008 U.S. Senate race moved one step closer to a final resolution. Coleman has stated he will file an appeal to the Minnesota Supreme Court during the next 10 days,...

The Picture of Mental Health: Minnesota's Unusually Low Suicide Rate

Although Minnesotans may not enjoy the harsh cold weather and long winters the state endures year after year, there is little evidence to suggest Gopher State residents are suffering the degree of severe depression or mental illnesses experienced by many other states across the country – illnesses that sometimes contribute...

Charles Grassley: Folksiness with an Edge

At 75 years old, the longest elected U.S. Senator in Iowa history, the 11th most senior member of the U.S. Senate, and having cast more than 10,000 votes in Capitol Hill's upper chamber, Republican Senator Charles Grassley is just getting started. Or so it seems. Now 34+ years into...

Minneapolis Crime Rates Continue to Fall as Unemployment Rises

As unemployment rises month-by-month in Minneapolis, along with the rest of the Gopher State, serious violent and property crimes continue to fall in Minnesota's most populated city at an impressive rate. Minneapolis' non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rate hit 7.1 percent in February - its highest rate in decades. However, even though...

Upper Midwestern States Bearing the Brunt of Rising Unemployment

Although the majority of Upper Midwestern states are currently experiencing some of the lowest unemployment rates in the country, the rate of increase, particularly during the last four months, has hit this region of the country particularly hard. Overall, three of the five states with the lowest unemployment rates in...

Amy Klobuchar: Steady as She Goes

The latest U.S. Senate approval numbers released by SurveyUSA for the month of March find Minnesota DFLer Amy Klobuchar with the 4th highest rating of the 27 Senators tracked by the polling organization. But that's not the headline. What is noteworthy about these March numbers is how they continue...

Is Minnesota the Most Democratic-Friendly State in the Midwest?

Smart Politics recently examined Governor Tim Pawlenty's approval rating and highlighted its remarkable strength and stability in the face of the current economic crisis. But Pawlenty's popularity is also noteworthy when viewed in the greater partisan environment of the Gopher State. A Smart Politics analysis of state and federal officeholders...

What Do Iowans Think About Gay Marriage?

The Iowa Supreme Court’s decision on Friday to uphold an August 2007 lower-court decision that found the Hawkeye State law limiting marriage to a man and a woman unconstitutional is not likely to be met with strong support statewide, according to public opinion polls of Iowans conducted during the last...

Marty Seifert: His Own Kind of Republican

In a colorful speech delivered at the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs on Wednesday afternoon, Minnesota House Minority Leader Marty Seifert (HD 21A-Marshall) discussed some of the differences between a 'Marty Seifert Republican' and a 'Washington, D.C. Republican' as well as drew some policy distinctions between himself and Governor Tim...

Redistricting Update: SF 182 Heads to Rules Committee

On Thursday morning the Minnesota Senate Finance Committee approved SF 182 on a voice vote, with one Senator dissenting. The legislation, authored by Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller (SD 59-Minneapolis) and Ann Rest (SD 45-New Hope), would establish new legislative and congressional districting principles as well as create a new redistricting...

Pawlenty Approval Rating Defies National Trend; Eclipses 50 Percent Mark Once Again

The 45th SurveyUSA poll measuring Minnesotans' approval of Tim Pawlenty's job performance finds the Republican Governor back once again in familiar, positive territory. Last month, for only the 6th time in 45 SurveyUSA polls, Pawlenty fell below the 50 percent mark at 48 percent. But in the latest poll, conducted...

Former Deputy AG James Comey Views Obama as "Credible" Leader in Counterterrorism Fight

James Comey, the 6 foot 8 inch former U.S. Deputy Attorney General who, in March 2004, stood figuratively and literally between President George W. Bush and the recertification of a NSA domestic intelligence program while Attorney General John Ashcroft was gravely ill, offered both criticism of the Bush administration's counterterrrorism...