President Obama is in Minneapolis today. I know this because half of the city’s principal highways were closed down at rush hour and my commute was a nightmare. Obama will stay overnight and make more appearances tomorrow, so this is a major presidential visit. Much could be said about it–for example, Obama staged a meeting with a “middle-class” woman to show solidarity with those who are oppressed by his policies. Per the White House’s press release, he planned to “spend a day in the shoes of the St. Paul woman.” He had a cheeseburger with her at Matt’s Bar in Minneapolis. Sure–he and she are just alike. Except, of course, they don’t shut down the highways for her.
But I digress. You might think that in deep-blue Minnesota, every Democratic politician would be falling over himself to appear on a stage with the president. And a few are doing just that. But there is one notable exception: Al Franken, who is up for re-election in November. Initially, Franken hadn’t planned to appear with Obama at all, but the local Republican Party made such an issue of his fleeing from the president that his office now says that he “looks forward to spending time with the President in Minnesota tomorrow.” How much of that time will be spent in public remains to be seen.
Why is Franken dodging Obama, who carried Minnesota twice, easily? Because the president is deeply unpopular here. I haven’t seen any public polling in a while, but polling done for conservative groups has found that Obama’s approval rating in Minnesota is in the 30s, even lower than his anemic national standing. The Democrats’ polling must be showing the same thing. So it isn’t just in red states that Obama will be a drag on Democratic chances in November.