1st DFL MN CD7 Congressional Candidate Steps Out in Style!

First CD7 democratic candidate with a wrapped campaign vehicle too!

As I depressingly explained the other day, Minnesota’s 7th Congressional District is now double digit R+ republican. But… That don’t mean we can’t have a vigorous campaign that excites democrats to action and forces the republican incumbent to actually defend her seat instead of helping accomplices in more competitive districts. First time candidate Mark Lindquist of Ortonville is doing just that with a campaign kickoff today that was bigger than anything CD7 democrats have seen in decades- Campaign RV, merch, staging, sound system, staffers, and all. This follows thousands of dollars in just the past few days of earned media exposure in the Fargo/Moorhead and Grand Forks markets. Granted, Congresman Colin Peterson set the bar for low key congressional campaigns, but sixteen months out Mark has already outclassed Colin’s biggest event.

I don’t know if Mark’s campaign is modeling there’s after J.D. Scholten’s campaigns in similar Iowa CD4, but JD used a similar strategy of an RV, lotsa events and voter contact, and centrist rural vision. That strategy got JD within 3% of winning in 2018 in a similar R+ double digit district to MN CD4 after republican incumbent King was outed as a neo-nazi. For 2020 the republicans found another candidate who wasn’t a Neo-nazi and with Trump leading their ticket JD lost by double digits along with most of the candidates in the district. But in losing JD brought national attention to rural democratic issues and produced a noticeable jump in democratic turnout in swing counties like Cerro Gordo (Mason City) and Woodbury (Sioux City) and probably helped elect a couple democratic legislators.

That’s why we need democrats like Mark not just filing but running vigorous campaigns everywhere!

Here’s Mark’s campaign website: https://markforall.com/

And a few more photos:

Don’t worry, the campaign ain’t waist’ money- The other side ain’t wrapped.
Crowd of at least a hundred in an off year!

The Sass’ is Back!

Been a while… Since my occasional anger at the Democratic Party and our ability to “grab defeat from the jaws of victory” motivated me to vent and maybe even produce some coherent writing. After our pack of great presidential candidates wisely stood down in the face of COVID-19 and deferred to everybody’s favorite cool grandpa Joe with the ‘Vette, Trump went full crazy and gave us a well deserved four year lease on the White House and we barely control the senate. Having fought and won the political battle of our lives, most of us have been taking a well deserved rest and rebuilding of our bank accounts and vacation day stashes.

I love political science, what little there is of it guides my campaign strategy, and I’ve found no empirical data whatsoever that off year campaigning improves our election results the next year. Granted, off year campaigning for caucuses, endorsement battles, and sometimes even primaries is a necessary evil and in the democratic urban strongholds the primary is the election, with the general election being a mere republican trouncing formality. But out here in rural Minnesota we have a hard time getting even one democrat to be the “sacrificial lamb” and run for office, and often on the last days of filing. Not surprising, given folks of both left and right political persuasion’s insistence on living surrounded by like minded neighbors, amped up even more by good ol’ gerrymandering. Cue the electoral map…

Statewide 2018 election contests results, democrats won every office in green counties and republicans in red counties. Numbers are the percentage of “swing” voters.

I live in the one white county (Lyon) in the sea of red in the lower left hand corner, nice rural living where $100,000 buys you a small mansion and it takes a conspiracy to cause a multi-vehicle accident. I am surrounded by counties even Amy, daughter of Klobuchar, kick ass prosecutor, and the winningest Minnesota politician since Hubert wasn’t able to win- That clump of red counties is about 3 state house districts that you may as well cede to the republicans already. The clump of white counties above that from Marshall through Willmar to St.Cloud is almost entirely (mis)represented by republicans now, but Amy won them proving that the perfect candidate backed by multi-million dollar campaigns and incumbency can win, and our local candidates have next to none of the above. The green counties around Moorhead are solid democratic, but not as much so as “the cities”. We’ve got another even bigger clump of red “lost counties”, and some white up around Bemidji- That’s a swing districts including the Red Lake Tribal Nation. Problem is, the republicans know it and will make ugly million dollar races out of it. That’s the synopsis of western Minnesota’s CD7 which will grow a bit larger but probably no more democratic with redistricting- A couple safe democratic state house districts, a couple more toss-ups, a half dozen long shots, and the rest the republicans won’t even need to gerrymander to win. Like the rural half of Minnesota’s CDs it’s R+ double digit, so for most of CD7 the only competitive races we’ll have in 2022 are the statewide races for Governor, SOS, Auditor, and AG. That means instead of getting a “three-fer” in a competitive district where the legislative, congressional, and statewide races are in play, in much of rural Minnesota the only races even halfway in play are the statewide races.

That’s not enough to get even a rabid democrat like me terribly excited to campaign in this off year, I’d be happy to do not even a handful of parades to test out the vehicular props and stay in practice. But sure enough this spring parades are being talked up, I put together a list, and after fits and starts seems like we’ve got a dozen parades scheduled. It gets worse… With COVID-19 at bay, the state Democratic Party has regressed back into their “door knock ’til you drop” mentality. Let me get this straight… Out here in rural western Minnesota’s 7th CD we’ve got 300,000+ doors to knock, you’ll find at best 20% home, and we have no idea which aren’t republicans so that means our little crew of maybe a hundred volunteers have a million and a half doors to knock… And that’s just the “first pass”! The empirical political science is that door knocking is magically effective in low turn out primaries, we don’t much have them out here.

Ain’t even election year, and I’m already feelin’ burnt out…

Remembering Black Ancestors Who Made the Ultimate Sacrifice

I’ve written before about my great great grandfather Sergeant William T. Slyter who gave his life to preserve the union and end slavery in the Civil War. Today it’s time to honor the black soldiers on my mother’s side of the family who made the same ultimate sacrifice. Black troops were usually assigned to segregated units and menial tasks but none the less proved themselves in battle. While their pay often went to their illegitimate owners, they were charged for petty debts like the loss of a canteen in battle, and were seldom given the customary benefits of burial in a national cemetery and a pension for their survivors. Yet having barely tasted freedom these black troops turned the tide of the civil war, their black community gave us Memorial Day, and the surviving black Shobes persevered to become respected judges, doctors, and public servants. 

Let’s say their names, and may they rest in power:

Private Isaac Shobe of the 67th Regiment, United States Colored Infantry

Private James Shobe of the 108th Regiment, United States Colored Infantry

Private James Shobe of the 109th Regiment, United States Colored Infantry

Private Smith Shobe of 122nd Regiment, United States Colored Infantry

It ain’t over ’til it’s over: Count all the votes!

We’re playing an away game and the crowd is getting ugly, encouraged by a profoundingly unsportsmanlike home team coach and players. It’s gotten dark and the stadium lights are dim with thunder in the distance. We bat last, put a couple runs on the board in the 8th to put us one run behind the home team and we’ve been ahead in every other stat the whole game. Most of the umps seem a little too familiar with the home team and there’s been some questionable calls, but sportsmanship comes first so we took it in stride and kept playing. We’re batting in the end of the 9th, the tying and winning runs on 3rd and 2nd, our best hitters next in the batting order, and their pitcher after too many beers is tired and sloppy…

But the home team coach demands his drinking buddy the custodian turn out the lights, while his other drinking buddy the town cop while playing with his billy club demands we leave the field while the home team’s crowd is ready to shower us with their horde of empty beer bottles.

Such unsportsmanlike conduct is rare in sports, but in this cowardly new world of Trump GOP politics is becoming standard operating procedure. Polling and exit polls are one of the best means of detecting election fraud, and the early election results in Pennsylvania alone are too far outside the margin of error of dozens of amalgamated polls to be believable. I went to sleep at 3 am after noting that in enough states to give 270 or more electoral votes to Biden enough democratic votes were uncounted to tip those states to Biden. Sure enough, I awoke at 8 am to find Biden had taken the lead in Michigan and Wisconsin giving him an electoral college win if he maintains those leads. It gets better- A quarter of Pennsylvania’s votes remain to be counted and they lean heavenly to Biden. And in the popular vote that actually defines presidential credibility, Biden leads by well over two million votes and counting.

No wonder Trump wants to take his ball and go home…

Trump’s GOP can’t win an election… But can they steal one?

Trump and his GOP can’t win an election, heck they haven’t won the national popular vote in 16 years and an in an open seat presidential race in 32 years. But can they steal one?

Was gaming out how the GOP could mess with the election day voting here in Minnesota, and particularly in western Minnesota. The GOP has a problem- Their SOP of sending out their thug “militia”s to terrorize a voting place kinda backfires when twice as many DFLers as GOPers have already voted and they end up scaring away their own GOP voters. But the GOP party’s thugs that were dumb enough to tie up Sunday traffic across the Hudson between two states they have no chance of winning anyway will probably try it anyway…

So where would a “militia” of fat slobs with big expensive guns be able to chase away more DFL than GOP voters? Let’s do the math… With DFLers voting early at twice the rate of GOPers, an average precinct would have to have a 67% or so DFL vote to have as many or more DFL voters than GOP voters to scare away on election day. Most of Minneapolis is that democratic, but 60% of Minneapolitans have already voted so their ain’t a whole lot of DFL voters available on election day for the GOP’s thugs to intimidate. It might work for a while in Ward 4 where not quite 40% of voters have requested mail ballots and election day turnout will still be a few thousand. Not that it will help the GOP… Biden and Smith are polling well enough that they can spare a couple thousand votes, and the DFL will win every metro down ballot race by a landslide.

But out west here in rural CD7 we DFLers don’t win elections by landslides, and we lose a lot of them. Our perennial winner is Congress Member Collin Peterson, and he’s in a close race so we can’t lose any votes to GOP thuggery. So I sliced and diced the data from the 2018 election to find some “juicy precincts” where we can still benefit from some GOTV and the GOP thugs can still do some damage. I filtered for over 1000 votes cast in person, at least 10% election day new registrations, and our top vote getter Collin winning by at least a 20% margin. That gave me 6 Moorhead precincts, another precinct in a Moorhead suburb named after a railroad yard named after the father of the modern diesel-electric locomotive AKA Dilworth, and Bemidji Ward 5. Good luck GOP “militia” thugs, every one of these “targets” is in a town that don’t tolerate open carry in town and out of hunting season, and they got substantial police departments too. The rest of the over a thousand precincts in CD7 don’t have enough democrats yet to vote or voters period to throw an election, unless you’re a couple of federal appeals court judges.

But undisciplined as the GOP and their thugs are, they’ll probably try intimidating voters anyway. But Minnesota’s election system is too resilient to be so amateurishly stolen, especially with most DFLers votes already in the ballot box. With dual records of votes cast provided by the paper ballots and scanners and a third record created when the vote totals are transmitted, even a felony level theft won’t take our votes away. 

So expect the GOP’s thugs to act out, and don’t expect it to work. Give them a wide berth, the real battle to protect our majority vote will begin after the polls close and the ballots get counted.  

Sunday Morning Status: The Election (And Beyond)

Good morning, and a very good one at that- 90,000,000 or so Americans have already voted, and the polling tells us about 2/3rds of those votes are for Biden! With a record 150 million votes predicted to be cast, after accounting for the 3% or so disadvantage caused by the constitutionally authorized gerrymander otherwise known as the electoral college Bidens “win number” is nearly 80 million. But Biden begins Election Day with 60 million votes already in the ballot boxes to Trump’s 30 million or so, a huge deficit that would require a perfect unmarred Election Day vote and then some to overcome. The view is even better in Minnesota- Here’s a link to B rated Public Policy Polling’s latest poll that shows Biden and Senator Tina Smith with double digit leads and an even bigger percentage of the votes already in the ballot box: https://www.publicpolicypolling.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/MinnesotaResultsOctober2020.pdf

In the great DFL vote bank otherwise known as Minneapolis, it gets worse (for the GOP): In 9 of 13 Minneapolis wards turnout is already over 50%, with a couple wards topping 60%. The GOP tried a not just sloppy but gross attempt at voter disenfranchisement by persuading an appeals court to stop the counting of ballots mailed by Election Day but received later. That strategy failed, as darn near every media outlet, even Facebook, got the word out for voters to get any remaining mail ballots to the appropriate elections office ASAP- Multiple eyewitnesses reported lines for early voting extending outside the massive Hennipen County Government Center, on a Saturday! The statewide races are over in Minnesota- With 2/3rds of republicans yet to vote, any appearance by Trumps over armed and under endowed militia at the polls will scare off more GOP voters than DFLers.

Here in western Minnesota’s CD7 a good turnout is 300,000 of the 500,000 or so eligible voters, and the DFL base is about 30% and the GOP about 45%. None the less, moderate democratic Congress Member Collin Peterson and a couple legislators keep winning by appealing to swing voters and maximizing DFL turnout on the Tribal Nations and in micropolitan areas like Moorhead where the DFL has a majority though perhaps a thin one. The vote is spread out and in many cases already voted too- In 2018 only 9 precincts produced over 1000 votes for any DFL candidate and in many rural counties almost every precinct automatically gets mail ballots. This means Trump’s motley militia “men” who are seldom seen solo have a lot of polling places to cover. And even if they pick the less than 10 precincts mostly in swing districts in Moorhead, they’re going to be intimidating two GOP voters for every DFLer… But from a Trump GOP that has failed so spectacularly, can we expect anything less?

And after massively failing to win at the ballot box, what else can the GOP do?…

New MN Polls Predict GOP Mail Ballot Disenfranchisement!

SUSA (Survey USA) is out with it’s 3rd poll this month of the Presidential and U.S. Senate races, reporting Biden leading by +5% and Smith by +3% statewide. SUSA is my favorite pollster because not only are they accurate enough to earn an A rating from 538, they also neatly break down the results by groups and geographies- This means I can easily pith out results for rural areas and western Minnesota’s 7th congressional district area.

For western Minnesota the presidential race is solidifying with the percentage of undecided voters dropping and Trump leading Biden 50% to 41% percent, a double digit plus improvement on Hillary’s performance. In the Senate race Lewis is leading Smith 49% to 40%, but the poll was taken before pistol packin’ Lewis ‘Bama republican primary style TV ad started airing in heavy rotation, even in the metro… 

As this post goes to “press”, A federal appeals court stopped Minnesota from counting mail ballots that are postmarked election day. SUSA again sheds light on the effects, reporting that statewide 31% of their survey respondents had already voted. But only 20% of Trump supporters and 44% of Biden supporters have already voted as of the 23rd to 27th, no doubt those numbers are a bit higher now. 27% of rural voters and 25% of western Minnesota respondents had already voted, while 35% of suburban voters had. 

So statewide, with republicans voting later, the GOP may have disenfranchised as many of their own voters as they have DFLers. In the metro post offices are nearby, are open all day, and several trucks a day haul mail to and from the nearby sorting centers, so you could probably drop your letter at the Post Office at just before 5 on Monday and still have it arrive at the local elections office on election day and be counted. 

“out here” the Post Office moves (slowly) on a whole different schedule, when it runs on schedule. My local part time Post Office in Tyler gets one truck a day and it leaves before noon, the news of this GOP disenfranchisement hit here early this Thursday evening. Mail your ballot on lunch hour Friday and it won’t move more than a few feet until Saturday, when it gets trucked to Windom and then hopefully makes the truck to the cities postal sorting centers Saturday afternoon. With overtime cancelled by Trump’s appointed Postmaster General, that ballot will sit ’til Sunday night and maybe made the truck to Willmar and get transferred to the ruck to Marshall early Monday or election day morning… Or maybe not. 

So while this GOP disenfranchisement may be a wash in the cities, out here in rural CD7 it could massively disenfranchise democratic voters… And hand close down ballot races to the GOP!

One Week Out…

But with over half us democrats already voted in many places, feels like 5 pm on election day- All that’s left is the evening rush at the polls. We took full advantage of the early voting opportunities granted by law while the republicans trashed early voting, and now we’ve taken the lead and the republicans have barely a week to catch up. Good luck GOP, you’re gonna need it!

538 prognosticates that Biden has an 88% chance of winning and rates Trump’s chance of winning at only 3%, barely halfway to the traditional .05 threshold of statistical significance. Even the rigged against democracy Senate is leaning blue, with a 73% chance of a democratic majority, and the republicans are a permanent minority party in the people’s House of Representatives. The republicans only path to political control is gaming the system, and even that isn’t working anymore. Over at 270 to win every pundit’s map shows Biden winning and Princeton Elections Consortium predicts a Biden win with 356 electoral college votes. Here in Minnesota it’s all over except for the down ballot races, with 538 giving both Biden and Senator Tina Smith odds of victory in the low 90s percents.

But CD7 is definitely in play- 538 gives democrat Collin Peterson only a 23% chance of winning re-election in this R+12 district, I think the race is a lot closer. In the legislative races, despite the DFL environmental caucus’s attempts to end mining and probably logging too, SD5 shows signs of going democratic again. There’s no publicly available polling that far down ballot, but the democrat’s energy and enthusiasm is measurable- I was on a DFL phone bank this evening but had to bow out because my browser wasn’t compatible with the dialer, but it was incredible to watch the DFL phone bank callers blast through a list of thousands of calls in a couple hours. And while usually at one week out I’m thoroughly frustrated with the mismanagement of democratic campaigns, this cycle it’s hard to find fault with the strategy as we picked our candidate(s) and then adapted to the crisis of the worst pandemic we’ve seen in a century.

So it’s 5pm on election day and I’m feeling nervous but good… But we still have to insure all those democratic votes are counted, the peoples will is followed, and Trump and his thugs actually vacate the premises on inauguration day!  

Time to Campaign Down Ballot?

Lately I’ve been (too) frequently refreshing 538’s election predictions and they’ve become a lot more refreshing, take a look for yourself: https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/2020-election-forecast/   Now click over to the Minnesota forecasts- As of Friday afternoon Biden has a 92% chance of winning Minnesota and Smith a 93%! Nationwide, Biden is given an 87% chance of winning the presidency and Trump has but a 5% chance of winning the popular vote… In Minnesota and increasingly in the nation, Biden has won and Smith will be headed back to a likely democratic senate. Now look at the House predictions, and click on Minnesota and CD7 for direction… CD7 Congress member and experienced Ag committee chair Collin Peterson is forecast to have only a 24% chance of winning re-election!

538 Forecast a 95% chance that we’ll hold the house, but the loss of Collin will be a loss of his decades of experience in agriculture and robust representation of us rural folks. In the legislative races, we have a chance to flip the senate blue and give ourselves rural voices in the legislature in several districts Collin and Amy have won like SD5, HD16A, and all 3 seats in 17. And while Trump has made winning the White House a top priority, we need to hedge our bets by winning the Minnesota Senate and democratic control of Minnesota just in case Trump cheats himself into another term in the white house instead of the prison cell he deserves.

Survey USA Poll: CD7 still in play!

SUSA just popped the cross tabs on another excellent poll, here’s a link to them: http://www.surveyusa.com/client/PollReport.aspx?g=b445d751-a852-4340-af49-98a0411c79e8

Statewide 16% have already voted as have 13% of western MN voters, with DFLers about twice as likely to have already voted than GOPers with independents in between. Trump trails Biden 40% to 47% with 10% undecided, but in western MN Trump leads Biden 53% to 29% with 16% undecided, the largest undecided percentage in any part of the state… But CD7 always was “swinging”. In the US Senate race Lewis can’t get a break, winning 37% of the vote to Smith’s 44% with 16% undecided statewide, but even in GOP leaning western MN he can manage only 36% to Smith’s 37% with 22% undecided. So Minnesota is increasingly “in the ballot box” for Biden and Smith, but CD7’s congressional and legislative races are still very much in play.