We wrote here about the poll suggesting that Republican candidate Chip Cravaack was giving 18-term Democratic incumbent and porkmeister Jim Oberstar all he can handle in Minnesota’s Eighth Congressional District. The internal Cravaack campaign poll showed Cravaack trailing Oberstar 42-45 percent, suggesting that Oberstar was, almost unbelievably, at risk of losing this race. Michael Barone vouched for the reputation of Public Opinion Strategies, the company that conducted the poll for Cravaack, and that was good enough for me.
The poll was a stunner. The Oberstar campaign has been attacking it as a push poll. In a brief article yesterday, the Star Tribune simply noted that the Cravaack campaign has declined to release the poll questionnaire in the course of reporting that Newt Gingrich predicts Cravaack will upset Oberstar. (Today the Star Tribune runs an AP story on the race noting that Oberstar has something like a 10-1 money advantage over Cravaack.)
I wrote Cravaack campaign communications director Kyler Nerison to ask about the POS poll and Oberstar’s attack on it. Nerison provided this response to my message:
The Oberstar campaign is fishing and it’s just a road we don’t want to go down, give an inch/take a mile type of thing. Neil Newhouse of Public Opinion Strategies has walked through the questions with several reporters. And I think Bob Kelleher did a fair analysis of it [for Minnesota Public Radio] here.
What I can say is that while traveling thousands of miles and crisscrossing the district, Chip has visited hundreds of towns and has spoken with thousands of voters. Based on that experience, we weren’t caught off-guard by the numbers because they reflect what we’ve been seeing and hearing for a year.
The linked Minnesota Public Radio story by Bob Kelleher in fact answered my questions about the poll. Oberstar appears to be in a real race. Yet if Cravaack were to win, it would be in a scenario more like 1894 than 1994.
In his appearance before our Minnesota chapter of the Republican Jewish Coalition this past summer, I was not alone in finding Cravaack to be a tremendous candidate, even if his race is uphill. Please consider contributing to the Cravaack campaign here to help “the gales of November turn gloomy” for Jim Oberstar.
JOHN adds: I talked with a Republican Congressman a few days ago who told me that he expects the GOP to take the House, but doesn’t think the election will be as much of a rout as it probably should be. The reason, he said, is that across the country, Democratic incumbents are sitting on huge piles of cash. He mentioned Oberstar and South Dakota’s Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin as examples of incumbents who will be able to “carpet-bomb”–his term–their districts with ads during the campaign’s last weeks. Republican fundraising has been good this year, but the concerned citizens who are contributing to Republican campaigns can’t begin to match the mega-rich and special interest donors who are trying to stem the conservative tide by financing the Democrats. So, if you can spare even small amounts of money, it is not too late to support the many good candidates we have highlighted in recent weeks, or the many other good conservatives who are running for office this year.