Saturday, March 15, 2008

CD3 Congressional Election Preview: What Color is Our District?

This year promises to be one of the most exciting campaign seasons we have seen, and will probably have one of the highest voter turnouts in recent memory in the 3rd Congressional District. With contested Presidential, Senate, and Congressional seats, there is much reason to vote.

The 3rd has always been slightly Red. Several decades of representation in Washington have been served by moderate Republicans like Jim Ramstad and Bill Frenzel. While recent numbers show that the 3rd is still red, it is red by a sliver. Although the Democrats have fully controlled the House and the Senate since the last election cycle, bad economic news usually manifests in the Presidential vote. And then there is Iraq. The bottom line -- if ever a Democrat had a chance to pick up this seat, for the short or long term, it is this year.

How much vote is out there to swing? I'm no statistician, but I'll try to make a case. In 2006, a year when Republicans couldn't buy a vote and the world was Blue, Mark Kennedy pulled 41% of the 3rd CD vote. With the name recognition and flawless campaign Klobuchar had, I'd say that 41% was pretty close to the rock-bottom Republican base. That equated to 118,000 votes.

Likewise, Wendy Wilde and Deborah Watts each pulled 35% against Ramstad in 2006 and 2004. The 35% by Watts in 2004 was in a year that wasn't yet at the Democratic period of electoral domination, so I'm pegging that as the low end of what they can pull. That 35% equated to roughly 100,000 votes.

With that imperfect logic established, that means that this district leans Republican, but only by about 6%. And that also leaves a healthy 24% of voters up for grabs.

In 2000, a year that had contested Presidential and Senate elections in the district, just under 345,000 votes were cast in the 3rd. Since Obamamania and the intensity of local races may get more out to vote, I'm going to say there are 350,000 votes out to be had. That would equate to voter turnout of about 79%, which is very very good. If we (again imperfectly) apply our "base" ratios to this race, that means Paulsen would start with about 144,000 votes, and the Democratic nominee about 123,000. Of the remaining 83,000, the Democratic nominee would need to swing 63% of them to win; Paulsen would need to pull 38% to win.

There is no huge student population to get out to vote in the 3rd, but the Democratic nominee could swing some votes based on their characteristic. Terri Bonoff could appeal to the female voter, a sizeable block. Ashwin Madia could pull some of the Veteran and Immigrant vote.

The bottom line: This is still a red district, but only by a sliver. A very strong showing from a Democrat could make this seat Blue for the first time in generations.

1 comment:

  1. The "color" my friend is red, a deep crimson red.

    Take a look at the last two elections when the dems nominated a woman. Both Wendy Wilde and Deborah Watts were smoked by a 2:1 margin. Terri Bonoff is also a polarizing politician like her predecessors. She's dreaming if she thinks she can create a consensus.

    Assuming Terri gets the nod, I predict she too will be roasted just like Wendy and Deborah.

    The 3rd District, though in Hennepin, is not Minneapolis. Eden Prairie, Maple Grove, Plymouth and Minnetonka are the start of the "outer ring" of the conservative western suburbanites.

    While Iraq's situation is less than popular (for different reasons) on both sides of the aisle, Terri's anti-war, cut 'n' run rhetoric will not resonate with the voters of the 3rd district.

    Americans hate admitting defeat. Matter in fact, Madia has a really good chance of undercutting Terri's presumptive nomination. I smell another "hillary" here. It's Terri's nomination to lose.

    Madia could even give Paulsen a real run for his money.