GOP shifting targets… As voting begins!

We’ve a couple more polls in MN, the toplines are predictable so here’s the “internals” of the Survey USA poll and some of the internals from the Strib/MPR/Mason-Dixon poll. Survey USA is an A rated pollster and Mason-Dixon B+ rated by 538, so no junk polling here, with MOEs under 5%. Like the previous polls of the MN senate and gov races, the dem candidates lead by MOE or greater in most tests, so those races are pretty much over. So no surprise that the RGA (Republican Governors Association) has cancelled TV time in Minnesota. That’s probably just the beginning of GOP and GOP friend’s money migrating out of Minnesota and especially out of the metro districts in the Midwest.

Take a look at 538’s “best in the business” U.S. House predictions- As of this morning GOP held suburban MN Congressional Districts (CDs) 2 and 3 were rated “Likely D” while rural Dem held MN1 was rated “Lean R”, MN7 “Likely D” and MN8 “toss up”. There’s a similar trend in Iowa where more northeast IA GOP held CD1 is rated “Likely D” and more rural southwest IA CD3 is rated “toss up”. Further down the I-29 Corridor GOP held seats NE2 (Omaha) is rated “Lean D” and KS2 (suburban KC,KS) is rated “toss up”. To a lesser degree this pattern is seen nationwide, with 538 predicting “likely D” outcomes in about a dozen GOP held districts, mostly in the suburbs. Take a look at 538’s U.S. Senate predictions- They show control of the Senate coming down to two “toss up” states, and one of them is North Dakota. If I ever get halfway rich I’m gonna buy a NoDak TV station before election year so I can get really rich!

Clearly the GOP needs firewalls, lifelines, and downright miracles at this point, so we can expect the GOP and their wealthy friends to pull their millions of ad $$$ out of suburban districts they’ve already lost and try to block the blue wave by winning rural districts like MN1 and MN8. Even MN7 where Democrat Colin Peterson survived the Trump wave and is rated “Likely D” by 538 is a likely GOP target, what with the district being rated R+12. Unfortunately the MN DFL is playing right into this GOP strategy with the much vaunted DFL bus being a no show at the big Worthington Turkey Day Parade in MN1 Saturday. Fortunately the local DFLers and governor candidate Walz didn’t get the memo and along with the UFCW local union turned out a block long parade contingent.

So “big D Democrats” and wealthy friends, get with the program: The electoral battle has shifted to the countryside, now move your massive resources there and breech the GOP’s “firewall”. At ground level, in MN and many other states many rural voters will start getting mail in ballots later this week and early voting begins Friday… We dems need to concentrate on these mail ballot precincts to get democratic votes “banked” before the GOP attack ad onslaught begins!


SW MN GOP legislators in panic- They’re doing a public meeting on child care!

This begs a liveblog…

Present are rep Swedinski and his back ups, senators Damn and Weber here at the Marshall YMCA.

Swedinski notes volume of DFLers in audience, asks for heads of organizations and providers (he’s hoping they’re allies) to testify first. First and second testifiers promptly recite “regulation” line.

2nd testifier now tags on blame that centers are stealing their biz. Weber chimes in that schools offering day care are the problem… Hey GOP, if public schools are so inefficient, how come your sacred private enterprises can’t compete with them?

Next speaker from Tracy blames regulation.

GOPers having more trouble with tech… Mic dies and they’re lost. No wonder they can’t handle the “inter tubes”!

GOP “solution”= the slippery slope to South Dakota standards…

Don’t these staged “testifiers” have anything to blame but regulations?

Almost a half hour wasted on GOPers intro and staged  syncopants… Good thing my MacBook has 85% battery left!

Couple more blaming regs, all day K, and public schools doing pre-school for 4 year olds. Swedinski could have just shown us a tape from the legislative hearings and saved us the trouble…

Still haven’t heard from a single consumer.

Finally had a provider let slip that they need a pay raise… Bravo!

Weber asking a previous testifier a question (must be running out of planted testifiers).

Let me sum up: We have a bunch of underpaid and overworked day care providers here. And what are they complaining about… Not pay, but regulations!

Almost an hour in, and the GOP looks to have run out of shills.

YMCA (our hosts) rep testifies: They want to do day care, but don’t have funding to do it right.

Finally, the DFL voices of reason get to speak. Lyon county DFL chair Ben Walker is first, tanks day care providers.

Day care provider who probably isn’t a GOP plant complained of low food reimbursement.

YMCA Rep says they’d like to do training for child care providers. Swedinski shill from Tracy whines that would be too much regulation. YMCA rep suggests training local trainers.

Finally a provider asks what GOP reps are going to do. Chris quotes bill I can’t find, then blames lawyers. Weber admits they have no solutions, whines about Human Services funding growth. Blames pre-K for problems… Sorry Sen. Weber, schools are a big part of the solution!

Weber tries to demonize DHS, provider disagrees. Weber thanks everyone for coming… It’s 8:19, building’s open ’til 9.

Dahms says there have been other listening sessions… How come the public wasn’t informed. Then thanks us for coming, without hearing our testimony. Swedinski shuts down the meeting after hearing only one DFL testifier.

Good night.





“Ground Truth” from Iowa 4…

The city of Spencer in Clay County, way northwestern Iowa had the dusty feel of a cow town in today’s gusty winds, but they put on one of the biggest and best county fairs in the country… Where better to gauge how much longer deep red IA4 will tolerate too many term bigot and congress member Steve King. First encounter was with the local GOP party contingent in their booth, they seemed lonely enough to even talk to a democrat. Having not seen a single republican lawn sign on the way down, I confirmed that they have plenty of signs and it’s legal to post them. Next building over I found the local democrat’s booth, they were too busy with Iowa voters to talk long. They’re continually running out of signs, lit, etc.. and are quite enthusiastic about their challenger for IA4, baseball player and paralegal J.D. Scholten.

After seeing more tractors than you’ll find this side of the Big Iron show in Fargo I found the best lunch deal was a $3 slice o’ pizza and was enjoying it when an old guy carrying a Scholten lawn sign plopped down at the next table. I struck up a conversation, turns out he’s a retired farmer and he wants a congress member that will represent the district, which he feels King hasn’t… When an old white guy doesn’t think King represents him, King is in trouble!

Made another round through the tractors and queeried the New Holland dealers about their $700 price for a service manual with no success, with their attitude I’ll just wait them out and buy a manual at one of their inevitable bankruptcy auctions. On the way out of the fairgrounds I went by the party’s booths again to confirm my previous impression… Yup, democrats doing a land office business while the republicans struggled to stay awake.

If there’s so little enthusiasm for immigrant bashing King, is any republican incumbent safe?

Western Iowa’s Tossup races get Tossed… New Poll!

Emerson College’s latest Iowa polling has dem gov candidate Hubbell up by 5%, but the big story is in western Iowa where in southwest Iowa’s 3rd congressional district, a “lean democratic” pickup according to 538’s “deluxe” forecast where dem challenger Axne trails incumbent GOPer Young by 16%, way outside the MOE. The good news is that in northwest Iowa incumbent bigot GOPer King has only a 10% within the MOE lead on dem challenger Scholten. I was in IA4 last week and noted a definite lack of enthusiasm for King. Hope to be on the ground in the district again tomorrow and will report back as well as process the poll’s internals.

New tools for mapping diversity… And finding democratic voters!

CD7 Outreach Officers update, 8/8/18: Mapping diversity to improve campaign effectiveness

This week I want to share some useful websites for accessing census demographic data. Most of us are familiar with the tried and true tools the census bureau has given us like Quick Facts and American Fact Finder. They work fine, but faster tools are now available that will paint a picture of the diversity of a district and drill right down to the “turf” level in seconds.

The first of these tools I found were pretty geeky, I’ll get to one in a moment. Then I stumbled across . Click on the menu, the 3 bars in the circle to the left of “Statistical Atlas”, then click on Minnesota in the U.S. map. A Minnesota map will appear and above it you can click on congressional, senate, or house districts as well as other geopolitical options. I clicked on 22A because it’s a competitive district thanks to our candidate Cheniqua Johnson and we share it with CD1. Young voters are most likely to vote democratic, so on the right I click on “age and sex” and OMG, the data overfloweth! We are given bar charts and graphs and down at the bottom of the page maps of the percentage of the population children comprise. I’m interested in finding new voters, so I click on “college” above maps at the bottom, producing this map: . Statewide, College age (18-21) people are a bit less than 4% of the population, but the top map shows Nobles county has about half again that. The next map sorted by county subdivision doesn’t tell us a lot, there’s a couple townships with over the double the average of college aged but when that “double” is 15 or 25 people the data is statisticly unreliable. Lets look at the next map down, “by tract”- That red area is the west side of Worthington, place your cursor on it and it’ll give you college age population percentages for individual census tracts. I’ll save you the trouble of drilling down to just Worthington, here’s the maps: .The bottom couple maps fillet the data down to about doorknock “turf” size, allowing campaigns to prioritize which blocks to knock. You can use the site to map and chart other data, for example, here’s non hispanic white population in 22A: . You can click on different groups and the site will map them out for you. I better quit now, or we’ll be at this all night!

And for you serious data geeks, check out . That’s where I found the stats on CD7 and the individual legislative districts that I’ve used, and I still get lost in that data maze. Data geeks, if you wander in there and we don’t hear from you after a few days we’ll send out a search party, who will probably get lost too!

Respectfully submitted, Dyna Sluyter

Using election data to target precincts…

CD7 Outreach Officers update, 9/4/18: Using election data to target precincts

A MN house district has about 20,000 doors, and about now our campaigns are probably wondering which ones to door knock or mail to, especially given that the VAN database isn’t real useful out here. ’18 is a year for turnout strategies, so we need to find our “drop out” DFL voters. Let’s start with the precinct results for the DFL “high water mark” with the current districts, the ’12 general from the SOS: Find results for the districts you want, I usually print out the pages I need. We’re looking for precincts with a majority of DFL voters, so we’re going to use Colin Peterson’s and Tim Walz’s results because they’ve run in each election so we have comparable stats and they’re usually our best performing candidates. For our first cut, I’m going to pick out the SD16 precincts Colin and Tim won with at least Colin’s share of the CD7 vote, 60%. For brevity we’re only looking at precincts where Colin or Tim got over 100 votes, resulting in a list of 18 strong DFL precincts.

Next we want to find which of these precincts had a lot of DFL voters stay home in ’14 and ’16, so download the same precinct level data for ’14: . Colin’s CD7 vote total dropped 34% between ’12 and ’14 and Tim’s in CD1 36%, so for the next cut lets look at our 18 highly DFL precincts for those with more than a 35% drop off for Colin or Tim, yielding a list of 9 precincts. But what about ’16, and shouldn’t we be comparing presidential election years? Good point, the SOS doesn’t have the “Blue Book” out for that year yet, so we’ll have to go to the bottom of the web page here for precinct level data: . Colin and Tim’s vote totals were each down 12% from ’12 to ’16, so we’ll take another cut at our 18 strong DFL precincts and filtering out those with more than that 12% drop from ’12 to ’16. That filter gives us 14 DFL precincts with below average turnout in ’16, Two precincts that made the ’14 list improved turnout enough to miss the 2016 list, but we’ll include them in the final list anyway.

So our first cut reduced our list of 20,000 doors to knock down to about 3,000 doors in the most DFL leaning 18 precincts. The second and third cuts dropped only 2 precincts, so that filter probably isn’t worth using here. But about 80% of those doors are in the more DFL leaning 16A side, which points out that you can adjust your “cut” points to whatever suits your needs, so in 16A you might sort out a higher priority tier of precincts that went 70% or more for Colin in ’12, and 16B you might make the first cut at 50% vote for our DFL congress member in ’12 rather than the 60% we used. You can also use these methods to target precincts rich in swing voters, in higher turnout elections like 2020 we’ll be targeting them more. Even if the VAN is lacking much voter survey data for your district it will have basic public data like voting history which you can use in conjunction with these election results derived data to fine tune your campaign priorities. And if you’ve got better number crunching software than I have, much of the SOS data is available in .xls and other formats. Enjoy! In a future report I’’ll explain how to use census data to find even more DFL voters.

Respectfully submitted, Dyna Sluyter

2018 Battlegrounds: Rural/Urban “Hybrid” districts and states…

As of 5:38 pm EST 538’s “deluxe” congressional race predictions show 19 districts as “tossups”. Darn near half those districts, 8 in all, are not in the ‘burbs as expected- they’re at least 20% rural, and 3 of those districts are over 50% rural. Two of those districts, MN1 and MN7, are typical- A vast farming region with a “micropolitan statistical area” of at least 100,000 and several regional centers of over 10,000 population. 270 to win’s senate pundits rankings tell a similar story with 5 of the 8 races rated “toss up” in states that are over 20% rural. Looking at the pundits picks of the “toss up” governors races we find 7 of 12 are in states that are over 20% rural.

Living in southwest Minnesota within a days drive of 7 of these “tossup” congressional races, 3 of the senate races, and 4 of the gov races make these exciting times, and I hope to report on them all. But as a democrat, I’m worried- Our party has barely begun relearning how to win in rural areas. Here in Minnesota we may flip the GOP held suburban 2 and 3rd districts only to lose the DFL held more rural 1st and 8th districts. It could get worse… 538’s “lite” polls only forecast  shows rural CD7, hybrid CDs 1 and 8, and suburban CDs 2 and 3 as tossups. With that outcome in the middle of a “blue wave” the MN DFL party could lose 3 districts to the GOP while gaining only one or two suburban GOP districts.

That’s why democrats can only become the governing party by winning in rural areas!