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Michele Bachmann Raised More Than $70 Per Vote Won on Election Day

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Incumbent in nation's most expensive U.S. House contest raises $70 per vote won in 6th CD race through mid-October FEC filings

While Congresswoman Michele Bachmann may not have actually been Nancy Pelosi's #1 GOP target in 2010, the controversial Republican was certainly at the top of the list for many Democrats in and out of the Gopher State.

But an analysis of Bachmann's district, her messaging, and her fundraising skills should have warned Democrats that there would be little chance to defeat her in 2010 - even back in early to mid-2009 when the Democratic Party was still in good standing and Barack Obama's job approval rating was flying high during his honeymoon period.

Back in February 2009, when GOP momentum and party ID had nearly bottomed out, Smart Politics wrote a report entitled, "The Unsinkable Michele Bachmann", assessing her 2008 victory which she delivered in the face of increasing Democratic electoral success in her 6th congressional district up and down the ballot.

Despite the 6th CD's electoral trends, and the passion with which liberals were already amping up to defeat the Congresswoman in November 2010, the report concluded that Bachmann was not beatable, 21 months before the November 2nd election:

"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." (Smart Politics, February 26, 2009)

And Bachmann did just that - more than quadrupling her victory margin from 2008 (3.0 points) to 2010 (12.7 points).

The Congresswoman won 52.5 percent of the vote with just 39.8 percent for DFLer Tarry Clark. It was Bachmann's most comfortable victory of her three congressional campaigns to date.

But throughout the last two years, Democrats remained single-minded about defeating Bachmann, and recruited a prominent State Senator - and millions of dollars - to do so.

A fundraising war ensued, with Bachmann ending up raising $70 per vote received on Election Day - a figure that will only rise when post October 13th campaign finance numbers are filed in the coming weeks.

And why did Democrats get into this fundraising war, put Clark's political future on the line, and subsequently lose her 15th Senate District seat as a result?

Some on the left chose to believe Bachmann only won during the Democratic wave of 2008 because of the presence of Independence Party candidate Bob Anderson on the ballot, who received 10 percent of the vote that year.

However, pre-election polling by SurveyUSA in October 2008 found Anderson's support to be equally split among partisans. (Putting aside the fact that Anderson was a right-leaning candidate, closer to Bachmann's ideology than DFL nominee Elwyn Tinklenberg).

As a result, instead of investing more heavily in 2010 in the neighboring 3rd CD, a district with no partisan tilt (the 6th CD is +7 GOP), Democrats and Clark raised a record amount of money for a Minnesota U.S. House challenger, raising over $4 million through mid-October for her 6th CD bid.

Bachmann too set Joe DiMaggio-esque records - with over $11.3 million raised through mid-October.

With 159,949 votes cast for her candidacy, that means Bachmann had raised $69.62 per vote won, compared to $34.82 for Tarryl Clark - with both numbers to rise when data for funds collected after October 13th are submitted.

Amount of Money Raised Per Vote Won in Minnesota's 6th CD Race, 2010

Candidate
Votes
Raised*
Per Vote
Michele Bachmann (R)
159,949
$11,135,363
$69.62
Tarryl Clark (DFL)
120,846
$4,207,920
$34.82
Bob Anderson (IP)
17,698
$0
$0.00
Aubrey Immelman (Ind.)
5,490
$4,220
$0.77
* Funds raised through pre-general fundraising period (October 13th). Compiled by Smart Politics from FEC data.

The amount of money Bachmann's campaign had garnered through the "pre-general" filing period skyrocketed from the previous two election cycles.

In 2006 and 2008, Bachmann had approximately the same ratio of funds raised through the pre-general period to votes won on Election Day - $12.27 per vote in 2006 and $12.86 per vote in 2008 (though the Congresswoman raised a substantial amount during the closing few weeks of the '08 campaign after her Hardball appearance).

In 2010, however, that number more than quintupled.

Bachmann won only 8,701 more votes in 2010's midterms (159,949) than in 2006 (151,248), but raised approximately $9.2 more million dollars to help secure those votes:

Amount of Money Raised Per Vote Won by Michele Bachmann, 2006-2010

Year
Votes
Raised*
Per Vote
2010
159,949
$11,135,363
$69.62
2008
187,817
$2,415,702
$12.86
2006
151,248
$1,856,131
$12.77
* Through pre-general fundraising periods for 2010 (October 13th), 2008 (October 15), and 2006 (October 18). Compiled by Smart Politics from FEC data.

The amount of money raised by Bachmann was certainly more than she would ever need to win the race against Clark in the 6th, and the upcoming FEC filings will likely show a significant amount of money left in her campaign warchest.

After all - how much money does one need to reach the less than 150,000 voters Bachmann needed to win on Tuesday?

And despite a record $16+ million raised by all candidates vying to represent the 6th District in the 2010 election cycle, the number of people voting in the 6th CD was virtually identical to the last midterm in 2006.

In 2006, a total of 302,188 voters cast their ballot in the race featuring Bachmann, DFLer Patty Wetterling, and IP candidate John Binkowski.

Despite the increased attention on the 6th CD race this year, Smart Politics projected last July that there would be no substantial increase in turnout in the 6th CD, predicting 305,711 voters in the 2010 6th CD race.

Tuesday night's unofficial vote tally in the 6th CD finds 304,164 residents voted in the congressional race - or only 1,547 more votes than Smart Politics' projection (+0.5 percent).

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2 Comments


  • From the article: "Back in February 2009, ... Smart Politics wrote a report entitled, "The Unsinkable Michele Bachmann" ... [which] concluded that Bachmann was not beatable, 21 months before the November 2nd election."

    I wrote a similar report, titled "Can a Democrat Beat Bachmann?" (July 27, 2009). In that MN-06 macropolitical analysis, released 15 months before the 2010 election, my assessment was that Bachmann could not be defeated by a Democrat in 2010 and concluded with this best-case scenario for the DFL nonminee:

    "Thus, for a Democrat to beat Bachmann, the economy in November 2010 will have to be broadly perceived as improving, with Obama and the Democratic Congress receiving much of the credit. On the contrary, if the economy remains in recession, Democratic candidates will pay a price at the polls and Bachmann will reap the rewards of opposing not only Obama’s economic proposals, but Bush’s bailouts as well."

    On August 15, 2009, more than 14 months before the 2010 election, I added the comment that "By virtue of simple demographics, it’s incredibly difficult for a Democrat to gain even 40 percent of the 6th District vote."

    In a June 9, 2010 update, I wrote:

    My analysis shows that Bachmann’s core base of support in the 6th District is in the region of 42 percent; however, recent polling shows that 53 percent of Bachmann’s constituents approve of her job performance, with Bachmann leading Clark 55-37 percent in a head-to-head [two-way] contest.

    http://www.immelman.us/news/can-a-democrat-beat-bachmann/

  • From the article: "Some on the left chose to believe Bachmann only won during the Democratic wave of 2008 because of the presence of Independence Party candidate Bob Anderson on the ballot, who received 10 percent of the vote that year. However, pre-election polling by SurveyUSA in October 2008 found Anderson's support to be equally split among partisans. (Putting aside the fact that Anderson was a right-leaning candidate, closer to Bachmann's ideology than DFL nominee Elwyn Tinklenberg)."

    Smart Politics' analysis regarding Bob Anderson's alleged "spoiler" role (for Democrats) in the 2008 election, comports with my own. On Aug. 7, 2009, I commented as follows at MinnPost, http://tinyurl.com/MinnPost-Black-Clark-endorse (comment #6):

    From the article: “Most DFLers seem to think that the IP in general and Anderson in particular cost the DFL the last election in the district (Bachmann, 46.4 percent; Tinklenberg, 43.4; Anderson, 10.04). The logic seems to be that the voters are voting for or against Bachmann and the IP candidate splits the anti-Bachmann vote.”

    That was my thinking, too. But when I work the numbers, the empirical support just isn’t there, or weak at best.

    For Tinklenberg to have defeated Bachmann in a hypothetical two-way race [in 2008], we would first have to assume that all of Anderson‘s 40,643 voters (a) would have turned out at the polls and (b) expressed a preference for either Tinklenberg or Bachmann (as opposed to, say, spoiling the ballot, voting for a write-in candidate, or writing in “Lizard People,” Mickey Mouse, or Ham Sandwich).

    Second, for Tinklenberg to have won, he would have had to gain two out of every three Anderson votes, which would have given him a narrow 50.1 percent to 49.7 percent victory over Bachmann. However, that flies in the face of the well-documented pattern that undecided voters tend to break for the incumbent -- in this case, Bachmann.

    Even if Tinklenberg and Bachmann had split the Anderson vote 50-50 in a hypothetical two-way race, Bachmann would still have won, 51.4 percent to 48.5 percent.

    See also: http://www.immelman.us/news/how-to-beat-bachmann/

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