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A Republican surge in Minnesota? A footnote

Over the weekend John noted Mitch Berg’s assertion regarding a possible Republican surge in a part of Minnesota’s Third Congressional District (House District 32B). The poll in 32B that Mitch cited should actually raise a cautionary warning for the campaign of Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer.
Comparing the poll numbers to the 2008 electoral results in the same state House district, Emmer is running 7 points behind Rep. Erik Paulsen, 9 points behind John McCain and 12 points behind Republican State Rep. and House Minority Leader Kurt Zellers.
Emmer, however, is in a serious three-way race. Perhaps the best comparison is to the 2006 gubernatorial election, in which Tim Pawlenty also faced a strong Democratic challenger (Mike Hatch) and an Independence Party candidate (Peter Hutchinson). Pawlenty drew 55 percent of the vote in 32B; Zellers drew 48.5 percent. Pawlenty did nearly 8 points better in 32B than he did statewide. (The 2006 gubernatorial results in 32B are accessible here.) This is an area in which a Republican gubernatorial candidate has to rack up the vote if he is going to win the election.
As we all know, 2006 and 2008 were not good years for Republicans in Minnesota. They were disasters. For Emmer now to be polling only at 41 percent in the district this year means that Emmer is in trouble.
It is time for a gut check in the Emmer campaign. The campaign is not going well, and the campaign leadership needs to wake up. The situation is not dissimilar to the situation in the 2008 Senate recount. The Coleman campaign buried its head in the sand about the need to play hardball. I am told Emmer’s campaign thinks it is on track, but the numbers in 32B don’t support their belief. The Emmer campaign needs to run as if it is 10 points behind Mark Dayton.

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