In “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” Gordon Lightfoot refers to “the gales of November” on Lake Superior. In Minnesota the shores of Lake Superior lie within the Eighth Congressional District. According to a poll conducted by Public Opinion Strategies on behalf of Eighth Congressional District Republican candidate Chip Cravaack and released by his campaign yesterday, Cravaack trails 18-term incumbent porkmeister Jim Oberstar by only three points (42-45 percent).
Will Oberstar founder on the gales of November 2? The POS poll has drawn the attention of Michael Barone, John McCormack and Ed Morrissey. I write to add these comments of my own.
First, Cravaack is a tremendous candidate running a race that seemed to me to present insuperable challenges. He made a great impression when he spoke to our Minnesota chapter of the Republican Jewish Coalition this past summer along with the four other Republican candidates challenging Minnesota’s Democratic incumbents. Cravaack fits the model of the strong candidates recruited to run this year by the Republican Party whom we have been publicizing in our “Strong shots and long shots” series.
In the email from Cravaack campaign communications director Kyler Nerison announcing the poll result yesterday, the campaign reiterated Cravaack’s background. He is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy who served in the U.S. Navy and Naval Reserve for 24 years. His service included stints at the Pentagon and NATO. After retiring from the Navy, he flew commercially for Northwest Airlines and served as a union representative for the Air Line Pilots Association. Cravaack lives with his wife and two young sons in Lindstrom where he served as the president of Parent Teacher Organization.
Second, the poll results tend to buttress a point Dick Morris made yesterday in warning of “the dangers of under confidence.” Morris argues that “under confidence – writing off seats that we can win – is a huge obstacle to further progress.” According to Morris, seats that Republicans had no chance to win in previous elections are suddenly in play. The Eighth Congressional District POS poll results fall within the ambit of this point made by Morris: “With scores of Democratic incumbent Congressmen polling at under 50% of the vote, the possibilities for Republican gains are enormous.”
Morris adds that in assessing the meaning of the polls, analysts are underestimating the ability of Republican challengers to defeat Democratic incumbents who are under 50 percent of the vote because the undecided vote usually breaks to the challenger. Morris refers to Republican insurgents with limited name recognition who are running behind their incumbent Democratic opponents because voters don’t know who they are. Morris argues that these Republican candidates running against Democratic incumbents polling under 50 percent can win their races. The Cravaack campaign appears to be a case in point.
Third, after the Cravaack campaign released the poll result yesterday, Ed Morrissey joined a blogger conference call hosted by the campaign. Ed asked Cravaack whether the poll meant that he would get national assistance. Ed summarized Cravaack’s response:
Chip says he really doesn’t need it. The local organization has done a great job so far and…he has a ground game ready to go. Another questioner says that the DCCC may descend on the district to rescue Oberstar through a huge negative attack-ad campaign, and that Chip may need the assistance from the NRCC to fend it off. Chip would prefer to be seen as a local candidate with local activists, but notes that the bloggers on the call are all outside of his district, too. “Bloggers rule,” he said with a laugh.
I take that to mean that Cravaack does not think he will be getting support from the national party organs. Please consider contributing to the Cravaack campaign here.
UPDATE: Reader Dick Lacher directs our attention to an editorial from today’s Duluth News Tribune: “Oberstar-Cravaack debate forced into larger venue.” Reader Daryl Williamson comments: “I have a cabin on Lake Superior just north of Two Harbors and talked to a friend with a cabin near Ely. The north is filled with Cravaack signs! I don’t remember this in past elections.”
AND FURTHERMORE: Reader Marcia Lang writes to points out that Cravaack was not “recruited” to run. He stepped forward on his own.