Eric Black writes the Star Tribune’s long post-election recap on the Mondale/Coleman race. The story is interesting and done well. It seems to me that Black makes a good faith effort to get it right. The details of which I have some knowledge, such as the Saturday meeting between Mondale and his brain trust in which the decision to run was made, are right.
It is not clear to me how a bit political player like David Lillehaug always manages to make himself a protagonist in stories like this. The guy has a genius for self-promotion that is beyond belief. In this story he appears by the third paragraph, and his debate memorandum to Mondale is quoted about halfway through the story. No one appears to be claiming credit for advising Mondale to call Coleman “Norman” during the debate. In any event, the story is worth reading:“13 Days: Behind the scenes of Minnesot’a historic election.”
This morning’s Star Tribune also reports the results of a Minnesota Poll taken November 6-8: “Once strongly pro-DFL, Minnesota sliding to right.” The poll results are contained in a graphic in PDF format that you can download by clicking on the small graphic in the text of the story.
The text of the story has the following key paragraph: “The poll confirmed the shift toward the GOP detected by the Star Tribune’s tracking polls in the days just before the election. Forty-four percent of voters identified themselves as Republicans, 41 percent said they were DFLers and 15 percent called themselves independents — a smaller number than in past elections.” I do not recall any hint of such “tracking polls” previously appearing in the Star Tribune. Moreover, the story makes no attempt to reconcile the post-election poll with every pre-election Minnesota Poll that the paper did report.
You might say that the Star Tribune alludes to what I believe were the inaccuracies of its Minnesota Poll by reprinting a story from last week’s Wall Street Journal: “Why some pollsters got it so wrong on election day.” That story has the following account of the doings in Minnesota: “The Minnesota Senate race, rocked by the death of Sen. Paul Wellstone, was the scene of one of the most striking polling disparities of all. On Nov. 3, two days before the election, the Star Tribune Minnesota Poll showed former Vice President Walter Mondale leading Republican Norm Coleman by 46 to 41 percent. The same day, a St. Paul Pioneer Press survey conducted by Mason-Dixon showed a nearly perfect reverse image: Coleman 47 percent, Mondale 41 percent.
“Factoring in the margin of error for each poll, both surveys showed a race too close to call, says Lawrence Jacobs, a professor of political science at the University of Minnesota. Yet they left opposing impressions about the contest, which Coleman won by 3 percentage points.
“(The Star Tribune Minnesota Poll continued interviewing on Sunday and Monday before the election. It found a highly volatile electorate in the race. The Sunday and Monday polling found an electorate evenly split between Mondale and Coleman.)
“Mondale campaign spokesman Jim Farrell says the fast-moving swirl of emotion after Wellstone’s death, a much-politicized memorial service and an election-eve debate made polling difficult.”
The parenthetical sentences in the penultimate paragraph above are the Star Tribune’s insert into the Wall Street Journal story. We apparently are not going to get a more extensive explanation from the paper about the discrepancy between the Star Tribune Minnesota Poll’s final published pre-election results and the electoral outcome.
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