A Tied Up Tossup in Minnesota

Over the past week there have been a couple of nice developments in the Minnesota Senate race that are worth noting here at MyDD. First, Rasmussen Reports released a poll, their second in as many months, showing the race to be within the margin of error.

The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Minnesota voters found Republican Norm Coleman regaining a statistically insignificant lead over Democrat Al Franken in the race for the United States Senate. The incumbent Senator leads the comedian 48% to 46%.

A month ago, Franken had a three-point lead over Coleman. Since then, Democratic candidate Mike Ciresi withdrew from the race. Ciresi was just two points behind the incumbent.


The race in Minnesota is close among unaffiliated voters, with Franken holding a small lead. The comedian does very well among politically moderate voters, leading Coleman 56% to 38%.

With numbers like these, it's little wonder that the political prognosticators are taking note. Here's a snippet from Jennifer Duffy of The Cook Political Report (subscription required), which has bumped this race from "leans Republican" to "tossup."

There is nothing more difficult than changing the rating of a race in the aftermath of a flawed poll like the Minnesota Public Radio survey.   However, given Ciresi's exit from the race, Franken's ability to be a serious candidate and to raise money, and the overall political environment that continues to work against Republicans, all combine to produce a race that really doesn't lean in Coleman's favor but is too close to call.   It moves to the Toss Up column.

Franken has a lot of support from the netroots, as well as the broader grassroots community. In an interview here on MyDD from last year, I think you can get an idea why.

Jonathan Singer: Final question, kind of getting back to the politics. What's the message that you'd like to send to the progressive blogosphere, if there's one? Is there something you'd like to hammer home to the netroots today?

Al Franken: I'm one of you. Air America is certainly something that was attempting to counter the incredible right wing dominance of the dialogue in this country and we tended to have people from the netroots on our show.

So I kind of think I'm one of you.

It would be really great to see Franken in the Senate speaking truth to power in a way that would make Paul Wellstone, may he rest in peace, proud. And judging by the looks of it, Franken has a real shot at winning in November.

Tags: Al Franken, Minnesota, MN-Sen, norm coleman, Senate 2008 (all tags)




I really appreciate the state race info, Jonathan.

I'm a Minnesotan, and I've been incredibly proud of our politics lately.  What with the Override 6 Republicans sticking it to Tim Pawlenty, the ouster of Lt. Gov. Molnau from MN-DOT, the election of Keith Ellison, and the faint hope that Gov. Pawlenty will be chosen as a VP candidate by McCain and humiliated on a national level, things have been looking up for us.

Franken is a weirdo, but he's our weirdo, and he's been taking this campaign very seriously.  Coleman, by contrast, had an advertisement where he said that he was "an independant voice for Minnesota."


When I stopped laughing, I realized that he was trying to be serious, which is by far more boggling than the latest Clinton/Obama horserace drama.  Coleman indpendant?  When Cheney mutters "release the hounds!", Coleman gets led out on a leash.  Yes, we all appreciate your tireless efforts to save us from the United Nations, Norm.

Franken needs to win this.  While I've been somewhat on the fence about Klobuchar (still peeved about FISA, even though it's sorta turned out okay), the opportunity to put Minnesota in the Clean Senate Sweep column for the Democrats is too important.

Thanks again.

by Dracomicron 2008-03-24 12:35PM | 0 recs
Minnesota moving back to solid blue

I too am proud of our Minnesotan politics over the last year and plus, starting with great Democratic victoris in the 2006 election (Pawlenty reelected aside). I don't think McCain has a shot to win this state unless he picks Pawlenty as VP, and even if he does he might not win it. We have a great chance to oust Norm Coleman as Franken is proving to be a strong challenge. We are moving from a purble back to a solid blue state, and I'm so grateful for that.

by Christopher Lib 2008-03-24 01:36PM | 0 recs
Re: Finally!
I was a faithful listener of Al's when he was on Air America, I was always impressed with how well informed he was on the issues, and the interviews/conversations with the guests he had on, he had the best show on AAR, as far as I'm concerned.
He showed a level of intelligence and knowledge about the issues rarely seen in many politicians these days. He was also one of the first out of state campaigns I donated to, so I'd love to see him win.
Go Al!
by skohayes 2008-03-24 02:32PM | 0 recs
Re: A Tied Up Tossup in Minnesota

Al has run a very good campaign. His humor is still there but it is more in the vein of "when a man loves a woman" then the broad SNL version. The "I'm serious about ..." is a great tag line, it doesn't deny his history but moves past it. As he moves past the nomination conventions the Media will actually start to look at how the issues separate he and Norm. That will for the first time in a long while make Norm defend his actual record (something he has avoided for quite a while). Norm just may be at the height of his possible favorables right now. A very good sign for Al.

by Judeling 2008-03-24 12:39PM | 0 recs

Ventura was a good governor.  We were prosperous and he signed off on the light rail that we'd been waffling on for so long.

He wasn't an embarassment, he just had trouble getting Democrats and Republicans to cooperate because they resented that he beat them fair and square.

Quite honestly, I just didn't have much faith in Hubert "Skip" Humphrey III.  Legacy candidate?  What could POSSIBLY go wrong?

Ciresi was a good contender and I hope he runs for something else, but I'm 100% behind Franken.  If it takes a little star power to make both Minnesota senators blue, then so be it.  At least they'll have an entertaining debate.

by Dracomicron 2008-03-24 12:41PM | 0 recs
Re: Hey,

You know most people outside of Mn don't understand that if Jesse would have run again he would have won.

by Judeling 2008-03-24 12:54PM | 0 recs
Re: Hey,

Ahhh, all the polling at the time says that's not true, but OK.  I didn't mind the guy that much when he was in office, but he was not a fan of progressive policies by any stretch.  So maybe we shouldn't talk "the body" up too much.  

by HSTruman 2008-03-24 01:12PM | 0 recs
It's "The Mind" now. :P

I didn't agree with a lot of his libertarian philosophies, but if I had to have a libertarian run my state, I'd rather it were Jesse Ventura than Ron Paul.

by Dracomicron 2008-03-24 01:45PM | 0 recs
It would have been a near thing.

Jesse is a strong proponent of Cincinnatus-style governance.  Citizen-soldier who serves as needed and leaves when he's not.

He wasn't all that pleased with his own performance, and was frustrated with the legislature back-talking him.  So he let his term expire.

We still like Jesse, and I'm sure that if he'd wanted to keep his seat, he would've (his campaign staff were crackerjacks).

What he was NOT, however, was an embarassment.  

by Dracomicron 2008-03-24 01:44PM | 0 recs
Re: A Tied Up Tossup in Minnesota

Well, then, let's not have any more elections ever in the future.  richmond199 can just look into his crystal ball as a swami and tell us what will happen.  thank you, richmond199!!!  voting is a pain in the ass!

i know the debbie downer, pearl-clutchers like richmond199.  you have to swat them off like the little annoying gnats they are.  you had plenty of richmond199s who said the same things about Jim Webb (people like richmond199 thought he wouln't win and the only one who would win was Harris Miller) and Jon Tester (the richmond199s of the world though Tester had no chance and the only way to win was if Morrison got nominated.

people like richmond199 never learn.  go away.  you annoy me.

by jgarcia 2008-03-24 12:43PM | 0 recs
I'm not impressed.

That's within the Keith Number, and Minnesota undecideds are notoriously prone to unconventional choices.

by Dracomicron 2008-03-24 05:42PM | 0 recs
Re: A Tied Up Tossup in Minnesota

I wasn't sure how I'd respond to such a rediculous post. You go from using right wing talkings points to comparing Al Franken to Jesse Ventura. It's incoherrent dribble, and I'll leave it at that.  

by Christopher Lib 2008-03-24 01:30PM | 0 recs
Re: A Tied Up Tossup in Minnesota

do you think franken will do SNL?  rudy and huckabee have already been on there since the strike ended, maybe franken will go back to host?  it would be entertaining at least.

by Doug Tuttle 2008-03-24 01:42PM | 0 recs
Re: A Tied Up Tossup in Minnesota

Franken as the candidate is embarrassment to state of the progressive movement in MN.  (yes I am a Minnesotan.)  
Is our DFL so weak that some celebrity has to come in to save it?  How can the state that produced Wellstone have such poor choices?  A rich trial lawyer vs a New York celebrity to take on Norm?!?!?
Uhg. The prospect of seeing Coleman's toothy, smarmy grin for another 6 yeas makes me sick but I can't see how Coleman loses.  

I just have no idea how the DFL became a pack of losers.


by gil 2008-03-24 01:44PM | 0 recs

The DFL just put the smack down on Tim Pawlenty and rolled his Lt. Governor out of MN-DOT in a barrel.  We just broke past his stupid, shortsighted "no tax" pledge with the help of 6 Republicans in the state legislature that got turned on like sheep in a wolf pack (we even only needed 5 to overturn the veto).

Surely you're not saying that Keith Ellison (first Muslim congressman ever) or Betty McCallum (first woman elected from Minnesota from congress since 1950, 91% progressive rating) or Jim Oberstar (in the top 30 most influential members of the House of Representatives) or Amy Klobuchar (former Hennepin County Attorney) are "weak"?

You need to do some homework on the DFL, my friend.

by Dracomicron 2008-03-24 01:58PM | 0 recs
Re: A Tied Up Tossup in Minnesota

I think Franken's funny (at least sometimes) and clearly he's intelligent, but really, is he the best we can do?  A celebrity?  What has he ever run before?  What experience does he have that is remotely relative and that would prepare him for the role of US Senator?  Even Sonny Bono had the sense to run for Congress first.  Ugh.

by BklynDem 2008-03-24 01:53PM | 0 recs
It's personal for him.

He wants Paul Wellstone's seat back.  He's smart, fast on his feet, very liberal, and has done his homework from the Big Book of Reasons To Hate Norm Coleman.

I don't think all politicians need to be traditional.  There's plenty of instances of people who have never held office before getting into politics at the senate level.  Mark Dayton, who held the seat that Klobuchar holds now, was one.  Herb Kohl from Wisconsin is another.  It's not unprecidented, and at least Kohl is still around, though he seems more befuddled every year.

by Dracomicron 2008-03-24 02:05PM | 0 recs
Re: A Tied Up Tossup in Minnesota
Gosh what a coincidence, I just emailed Mike Ciresi this morning asking him to get back in the race, on Hillary's side.  Or at least on the side of the democratic voters of MI and FLA.  I think there is a lot of buyers remorse around here that he could take advantage of.
And although he can not alter the outcome of the MN caucus he can offer Minnesotans an opportunity (by financially supporting his campaign) to show solidarity with the democratic voters in MI and FLA and even send a message to the DNC.  He might be surprised by the outcome of a simple press conference expressing these views and asking for finacnial support within a certain amount of time.  
by olwyns 2008-03-24 02:01PM | 0 recs
What the hell are you talking about?

"Get back in the race on Hillary's side?"

This is Minnesota politics, Clinton has nothing to do with them.  Besides, we went for Obama by 68%, running on an explicitly pro-Clinton platform isn't necessarally the best idea.

And... wait, do you want him to run third party?  Or just to the convention?  You've completely lost me.

by Dracomicron 2008-03-24 02:10PM | 0 recs

The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Minnesota voters found Republican Norm Coleman regaining a statistically insignificant lead over Democrat Al Franken in the race for the United States Senate. The incumbent Senator leads the comedian 48% to 46%.


The race in Minnesota is close among unaffiliated voters, with Franken holding a small lead. The comedian does very well among politically moderate voters, leading Coleman 56% to 38%.

Really, really classy.  Al "The Comedian" Franken vs. Norm "The Incumbent Senator" Coleman.

First, I'm pretty sure Al Franken has had several job titles, other than comedian. Political commentator, best-selling author, television writer, etc.

Second, its funny they didn't mention his Harvard degree anywhere, or that he was a fellow at Harvard's .  

All they had to do was check Wikipedia:

He attended Harvard College and graduated cum laude in 1973 with a Bachelor of Arts in general studies.....

Besides having written five New York Times bestselling books, three of which reached #1....

In 2003, Franken served as a Fellow with Harvard's Kennedy School of Government at the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy. Several years later, he became the first nationally syndicated radio talk show host to visit Iraq,[citation needed] where he headlined two USO shows while traveling with Russell Burnham, the U.S. Army Soldier of the Year. Franken has done seven USO tours to date, his most recent being in mid-December 2006.

Damn comedians... not him... the author of the Rasmussen piece!

by PJ Jefferson 2008-03-24 02:02PM | 0 recs
Nice catch

Keep 'em underestimating us.

by Dracomicron 2008-03-24 02:18PM | 0 recs
Re: A Tied Up Tossup in Minnesota

What was wrong with the MPR poll?   Small sample size?   Did it take place before Ciresi dropped out?

by AKAEloise 2008-03-24 02:06PM | 0 recs
Yeah I lived through that.

And it was just fine.  Jesse's antics were fine; only the most uptight Minnesotans gave a rat's posterior whether he did some of his performance stuff in his off-time.  That's why we elected him in the first place.

Coleman might be getting a financing spike, but the RNC is dead broke; all that money is going to go to a heavily contested race (Franken's raking in money, too), and not to Republican races all over the country to fill empty seats that probably need it more.  If there are coattails, Democrats all over this great land are the ones benefitting.

Coleman's done NOTHING for us lately.  The I-35 bill was a shoe-in, anyway.  I know my adopted home, and we'll take a professional comedian over an amateur comedian like Coleman anytime.

by Dracomicron 2008-03-24 02:17PM | 0 recs


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