Go to HHH home page.
Smart Politics
 


From T-Paw to J-Ram: Is Jim Ramstad the GOP's Answer in 2010?

Bookmark and Share

Tim Pawlenty's decision Tuesday not to seek an unprecedented third 4-year term as Governor of the Gopher State not only emboldened the candidacies of the long list of DFLers already on the campaign trail, but also raised the issue as to what type of candidate the Republican Party should run in an increasingly left-leaning state to give the GOP its best chance in denying the DFL the governor's office for a sixth consecutive election cycle.

As the state Republican Party looks to fill Pawlenty's shoes on its side of the ballot in 2010, one name that has the mouths of many centrists and independents watering is the prospective candidacy of former 9-term Republican Congressman Jim Ramstad from Minnesota's Third Congressional District.

Ramstad, in many ways, would be the nightmare candidate for the DFL - a liberal Republican with a cool temperament and strong name recognition, especially in the Metro area, with moderate to liberal stances on a number of social issues that would undoubtedly take several of the sharpest arrows out of the quiver of whomever emerges as the DFL nominee.

An October 2008 SurveyUSA poll of Ramstad's 3rd CD gave the Congressman extremely high favorability numbers among likely voters of all partisan stripes:

Jim Ramstad Favorability Rating in 3rd CD, October 2008

Party
Favorable
Neutral
Unfavorable
Republican
68
18
8
Independent
62
22
11
Democrat
46
30
12
Total
58
24
10
Source: SurveyUSA Poll, October 6-7, 2008.

But how well could Ramstad perform outside of his district in a statewide race? And how politically reflective is the 3rd District of the Gopher State overall?

As it turns out, the 3rd CD has proven to be a very good thermometer by which to measure the political temperature of the state in recent years. During the last five statewide elections for the presidency (2004, 2008), the governor's office (2006), and U.S. Senate (2006, 2008), the 3rd CD has averaged just 3.3 points off the total vote percentage for the winning candidate statewide. In short, if you can with the 3rd, you can win the state.

For example, in the 2008 presidential race, the difference between Barack Obama's vote total in the 3rd CD (52.4 percent) was just 1.7 points off his total statewide (54.1 percent).

Ramstad's old district ranks right at the top, along with the 1st and 8th CDs, as the most reflective of Minnesota overall in high-profile statewide elections:

Average Difference between Vote for Winning Candidate Statewide and Vote in Congressional Districts in High Profile Minnesota Statewide Elections, 2004-2008

District
Points
8th
2.4
1st
3.0
3rd
3.3
7th
5.8
2nd
6.3
6th
8.9
4th
9.1
5th
18.9
Note: Table averages the absolute value of the difference in the vote for the winning candidate statewide and the vote for that candidate in each congressional district in Minnesota presidential, U.S. Senate, and gubernatorial races from 2004-2008. Table compiled by Smart Politics.

Despite all these positives, Ramstad, to be sure, is not the dream candidate for the conservative wing of the Republican Party. Ramstad has received low ratings in the past from groups such as the NRA, and the Congressman has on occasion self-effacingly referred to himself as a RINO (Republican in name only).

In fact, given the increasingly polarized nature of political parties, Ramstad, like Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania in 2010 and Joe Lieberman in Connecticut in 2006, may no longer be electable in his party's primary - especially for statewide office.

Then again, perhaps Ramstad will surprise everyone and run as an independent. The switch would complement his track record in Congress as a true centrist: back in 2006, the Republican congressman was rated fairly dead center along the partisan spectrum - the 199th most liberal and 231st most conservative member of Congress, according to National Journal.

Follow Smart Politics on Twitter.

Previous post: Are Supreme Court Justices Living Longer?
Next post: Does Marty Seifert Represent a 'Swing District?'

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

Mary Burke: English First?

While multiculturalism and bilingualism are increasingly en vogue in some quarters as the world seemingly becomes a smaller place, one very high profile 2014 Democratic candidate does not shy away from the fact that she only speaks one language: English. In an attempt to highlight her private sector credentials working for Trek Bicycle, Wisconsin Democratic gubernatorial nominee Mary Burke boasts on her campaign bio page how she made great strides in international business dealings...while only speaking English: "Despite not speaking a single foreign language, she established sales and distribution operations in seven countries over just three years." Note: According to 2010 Census data, nearly half a million Wisconsinites over five years old speak a language other than English at home, or 8.7 percent, while 4.6 percent of Badger State residents do not speak English at all.


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.


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