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If (according to Minnesotans polled) she's by far the most unpopular Minnesota politician--how does she win, and keep winning? Why is she seemingly indestructible in Minnesota--if she says all those hateful, crazy things and tells all those outright lies?

Most importantly: how does she rise to national influence (in the tea party, in the evangelical right that determine the outcome of a presidential election)--if even her fellow Minnesotans think she's a creep?

The alternative weekly for Minneapolis/St. Paul, the City Pages, on the result of the latest poll of Minnesotans:

With a 33/60 favorable/unfavorable split, PPP characterizes Michele as "Minnesota's most unpopular politician."

The results are from a Public Policy Polling survey of "973 Minnesota voters from May 31st to June 3rd. The margin of error for the survey is +/-3.1%. This poll was not paid for or authorized by any campaign or political organization."

(Michele Bachmann) would actually cost Romney 6 points if he picked her (as a running mate), stretching Obama's lead out to 56-35. Independents would support Obama by a whooping 61-26 margin if Bachmann was on the Republican ticket. Bachmann could probably lay claim to the title of Minnesota's most unpopular politician. Just 33% of voters have a favorable opinion of her to 60% with a negative one.
The most influential Minnesota politician is also the most unpopular with Minnesotans. Over the years here, people have regularly asked me "What the hell is wrong with Minnesota? Are they crazy up there, electing this nut?" And I tell 'em: no, we're not crazy up here.

It's movement conservatism (a national phenomenon,) the conservative evangelical movement (a national phenomenon,) and the tea party (a national phenomenon manufactured by movement conservatism in media and business.)

And the people who organize these forces are smart, with decades of political experience. They knew how to 1) go into a Republican leaning district, 2) take out the cynical, mean but sane Republicans in power there, and 3) replace those candidates with wing-nut Republicans. It's easy, if you have the money and the media and the decades of political experience.

It's got nothing to do with Minnesotans being nuts. It has to do with how smart the people promoting these wingnut candidates are. The people who steer the wingnuts can put the asses in the legislative seats. (I co-wrote a book explaining that the Christian right, for example, is now organized as an unofficial third major political party in the US. They groom their own candidates, identify vulnerable Republican districts, and put their people in office there. Bachmann's an example.)

Look, look at the poll numbers and the recent election outcomes. If you have the wherewithal to execute the strategies I've just cited, you don't have to be popular in order to win power. You don't have to capture "the vital center" to control legislatures or limit the American political agenda. Bachmann is unpopular with Minnesotans, that's a fact. She's also highly electable, a national political figure, and the most influential Minnesotan figure on the national political scene. This will remain a fuckin' paradox to people on the Kos--unless they take the strategies I mentioned above into account when analyzing American politics.  

Bachmann and her backers know: this is not a popularity contest; it's about smart targeting, money and obtaining power. Even if your movement and candidates represent only about 30% of the electorate: you can dominate American politics, set the limits of the possible. The fact that the candidates and supporters are indeed wingnuts-- has relatively little to do with the outcome of particular elections. Capture the GOP nomination for your wingnut in a Republican leaning district--and another wingnut goes into the halls of government.

It's a representative democracy and politicians depend on popularity the way that vampires depend on blood. But the winning strategy from the right proves that popularity isn't necessarily the primary way to power. The Christian right is sophisticated enough and experienced enough understand that they can enjoy and enhance their power without massive popularlty, without a real mandate. "Winning" in US politics is not about who and what the voters "really" want. It's about who gets to make the law, who gets to dominate the GOP, who gets to staff the legislature and bureaucracy with sympathetic supporters. The opposition understands that and is winning without courting massive popularity--so they can stop progressive reform and have done so for decades.

It's not that "we never win/we can't win." Obama's president, Romney (deeply unpopular with conservatives) is opponent. Those facts represent "wingnut" losses. And if you look at my state, Minnesota, you see three Democrats in the top rungs. Governor Mark Dayton, Senator Amy Klobuchar and Senator Al Franken.

But look a little closer: the Minnesota State Legislature is dominated by Republicans, and the Republicans who dominate it are looking more and more like Michele Bachmann. They're blowing off core issues like budget and jobs and offering wedge issues about stopping gay marriage and non-existent voter fraud, alleging conspiracies "against the family" and "freedom."

These are the people who are currently running our state house--despite the fact that  the Minnesota GOP is enjoying one of its worst years. I mean sex scandals, internal financial scandals, a local Ron Paul insurgency that takes nearly all the GOP delegates to the Republican national convention, a GOP state establishment that's so weak it can't even deliver the Minnesota GOP for Romney (Santorum won the state primary despite the fact that the state's former two-term Republican governor was all for Romney.)

According to the rules as understood by most political observers: this can't be happening; such a party can't be dominating. A scandal-ridden GOP that's incompetent at governing, running up deficits and dominated by wingnuts--can't be in charge in Minnesota--a "smart," well-educated "good government" state.

But they are. (Can you imagine what will happen here when the Minnesota GOP has a relatively good election year, with less scandals?) With the help of a nearly useless state political press, national movement conservatism and its media, the national Christian right, and smart targeting of seat by the movement leaders--the wing nut minority can beat the majority of Minnesotans, and deliver a nuthouse into power.

I'm sure there are similar situations in states other than Minnesota. (These factors I'm writing about are national, they're coordinated exploited for the purpose of taking seats in state government for wingnut politicians.) Democrats and progressives just have to learn to deal with this better.

The first step would be acknowledging that a well-organized, well-funded right wing minority can dominate government and policy making. Base strategy on that reality, instead of pretending that the nuts and liars will "eventually" be driven out because they're exposed as nuts and liars.


The DCCC (Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee) is currently posting oppo research pages on congressional Republicans.

Here's how you access to those oppo research pages. The examples here are of Minnesota congresspeople, but I'm sure you can find the files for your own district at the same site.




Their Bachmann oppo page seems to be mostly clippings from wire and newspaper sources. There's not much reliance on original reporting, which is why they don't have a lot of Bachmann's pre-Congress "hate on the liberals and gay and Democrat socialist take conspiracy" stuff. And they seem to have missed some of the post-Congress stuff, too.

But as for the stuff they did get: it's handy to have it all in one place. Does anybody have any info on how to contact the person or persons who put the page together--so we can send them some of the stuff they missed?

I guess I could try to get to the DCCC surreptitiously by phoning them up and telling them I want to donate five bucks and a latte coupon, but that seems disingenuous.


City Pages, where EricF found the story on the polling:

Public Policy Polling with the data:

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Comment Preferences

  •  Hi Bill: I for one appreciate (7+ / 0-)

    your commitment to getting rid of Bachmann once and for all. As I've told you before, good luck.

    Fascism will come to the United States wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross. --Sinclair Lewis

    by maggiejean on Fri Jun 08, 2012 at 01:24:51 PM PDT

  •  the reason rep. bachmann wins (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    phonegery, Youffraita

    is because the only minnesotans that count in an election are those in her district, and they vote for her. 90% of the entire state's voters could hate her guts, but as long as the 10% that like her are in her congressional district, the 90% don't matter. as it turns out, she represents a district that historically is used to voting republican.

    most of them may not even really have a clue who she is or what she stands for, it doesn't matter. they've been programmed to vote republican, so all that does matter is that she has (R) next to her name on the ballot, and that's the box they'll put their "X" in. all she really had to do was beat whoever ran against her in the primary. to do that, she only had to appeal to the small % (the "base") who actually vote in primaries. once that was accomplished, it was pretty much smooth sailing in the general.

    this works in any political subdivision that is dominated by either party. the primary becomes, for all intents and purposes, the general, while the general is simply a required formality.

    •  You make a strong case (0+ / 0-)

      for democrats working their hearts out to build sufficient majorities to take our republicans in census years when reapportionment is established.  Dems fail to put real effort to oraganize for such events and this has been a major factor as to why the GOP still manages to get the upper hand, despite changing demographics.  By 2020, the demographics will have shifted so much that this will become very hard to replicate in the future.  Dems need to keep that in mind.  

    •  Well, cpinva... (0+ / 0-)

      ...the stuff you're writing about there ("the primary becomes for all intents and purposes, the general") is the reason that the ultraconservative organizations have national strategies to capture the local nominations.

      For example: the Christian right grooms protege candidates to run as Republicans (not as candidates of some "new party" labeled Christian Right.) That way, they get the branding and brand loyalty of the low information GOP voters as well as their own local core supporters.

      I've been writing about the situation you describe for more than seven years now, publicly. It's part of following the Michele Bachmann story. But what most people don't seem to realize is that it's not just a story "why Bachmann is elected."

      The strategy you outline is also the story of how many other ultraright types are taking seats in state legislatures. Bachmann may have been a pioneer figurehead for the strategy--but the Bachmann career template for introducing the ultraright into the mainstream is implemented all around the country. It works, and that's why the Bachmann story isn't just a story about Michele Bachmann--it's a story about how to introduce right wing crackpots into legislature and leadership in any district where the Christian right and tea party are a significant factor.

      While many writers and commenters here continue to dismiss the national Christian right as stupid yahoos because of the content of their politics-- they're picking up Republican seats and radicalizing the policy debate. Their leaders are politically sophisticated and pragmatic-- not stupid, and they shouldn't be dismissed simply because the rhetorical package they're selling is nuts.

      The "steal the nomination and branding to run their local protege in a safely Republican district" is just one of their long-standing tactics. Bachmann (and "why she gets elected") is just one success story for them.

      Co-author of the first political biography of Michele Bachmann: Michele Bachmann's America

      by Bill Prendergast on Sat Jun 09, 2012 at 06:33:41 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Well that is clear (0+ / 0-)

    Thanks Bill,
    Now how do we elect good progressives using these methods?

    •  We won't be able to get truly progressive (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      candidates into office in a way that will make a fundamental difference...

      ...until movement conservatism and conservative evangelical influence have been sent back to the margins of American politics.

      People who are interested in real progressive reform in the United States will continue to see it generated in the geographic areas where those reforms have been generated for the past fifty years (the east and west coasts.) And they'll continue to see it stifled nationally because of failure to understand the nature and strengths of the national forces that control the red states.

      IMO, the progressives can win incremental battles in friendly territories--but they can't capture the nation. There are institutional weaknesses in the progressive movement (eg, lack of money and wide media influence.) The conservatives, a numerical minority, can capture and have in the past. The fact that they lead the nation into disaster is an historical fact, a matter of record--but it doesn't matter, because conservatives have institutional strengths that progressives lack and liberals have lost.

      So that is my answer: you and I won't see good, effective progressives (the heirs of FDR) in positions of national influence until liberal Dems are once again almost entirely dominant and movement conservatism and the Christian right are back at the margins. IMO, it's the task of the truly progressive to organize to marginalize and discredit the right, allying themselves with Democrats (even big money, special interest creature Democrats) until conservatism is no longer politically viable at election time.

      I know that that position is adopted with extreme reluctance by many who write here. I think those people who disagree chronically overestimate progressive strength in the US. (Only four years or so ago, they were talking about another Dem supermajority dominating the US after the election of Obama and the Dem tsunami following the collapse of Bush Republicanism.)

      Well--you asked me, so I told you what I think.

      Co-author of the first political biography of Michele Bachmann: Michele Bachmann's America

      by Bill Prendergast on Fri Jun 08, 2012 at 11:13:53 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Bill, I think (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Bill Prendergast

        you're right -- but for the wrong reasons.

        You separate liberals and progressives -- fine.  I'm not sure I'd make such a distinction.  But what it really is, it's that the GOP has had a 50-state strategy for at least 30 years, and the Democrats, OUR side, had one for a few years under Dr. Dean.

        And it was starting to be effective, and we had Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

        And OUR fucking party dropped Dr. Dean and the 50-state strategy like a hot potato.

        But the GOP still has theirs.  And as you note, the money to move forward with it.

        "Impeachment is off the table" didn't help any, either.

        We need to return to the 50-state strategy.  The national party should have invested in recalling Walker -- it is unconscionable that they did not.  And we need to invest in creating our own media sites to counterbalance the Murdochs of the world -- or else we need to restore the Fairness Doctrine and kick any station that doesn't comply off the airwaves.

        That would be a start toward restoring sanity in this nation.

        To make the argument that the media has a left- or right-wing, or a liberal or a conservative bias, is like asking if the problem with Al-Qaeda is do they use too much oil in their hummus. Al Franken

        by Youffraita on Fri Jun 08, 2012 at 11:39:44 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  And you know I luv ya, and... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          ...I agree with some of your observations: "impeachment is off the table" was a silly concession, and the "GOP has had a fifty state strategy for at least thirty years" (since Reagan...)

          ...but you're raising points for my view even as you make your own. Yes, the GOP has a fifty state strategy and the money to move forward with it.

          The progressive side doesn't have the money/the media to move forward and sustain a fifty state strategy. That's something that you just "acknowledge and then move on to your next point." That's a sticking point, a major one that progressives making demands of liberals and Democrats seem determined to ignore.

          You know that progressives are determined to ignore that "progressives don't have the money or the media or the wherewithal or the popular mandate" point. You see a progressive ignoring this every time he/she threatens to split if he/she doesn't see more progressive initiatives out of the White House or the Dems in Congress, every time they threaten on the fact of Dem compromise with the GOP or on the fact of Dem insider money.

          I separate progressives from Dems because a lot of progressives make the point of separating out the Dems--as sell-outs, corporate flunkys, business as usual hacks. A lot of those accusations are true--but it's also true that progressive political thinking and wherewithal don't even begin to approach conservative right wing fantasies and wherewithal--when it comes to becoming law.

          That's just the way it is, IMO. One of the things I admire about this blog is the way that it's managed to harness progressive thinking, passion and strength with a truly efficacious political force--the Dem party. ("Efficacious," in the sense that it is able to fend off the conservatives under circumstances--where progressives by themselves *aren't.)

          IMO, that's the way to go, the "anti-conservative alliance" doesn't mean that I think that the progressives should just bend over for Dems and money, but I do think that a responsible progressive should accept the fact: they're nothing in contest against conservatives without liberal and Dem allies. It's good to have a fifty state strategy or a plan for a colony on Mars...

          ...but how are you going to do it if you don't have the support or the budget?

          Co-author of the first political biography of Michele Bachmann: Michele Bachmann's America

          by Bill Prendergast on Sat Jun 09, 2012 at 09:59:18 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  erm. Bill. I am a liberal and a Democrat (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Bill Prendergast

            I am Progressive in that I think Teddy Roosevelt did a bunch of great stuff, and FDR did even more great stuff.

            I don't think that makes me a progressive in the modern terminology (although I admit I don't know what the term progressive means in the modern terminology).

            Basically, I'm a socialist.  Tax the rich at 90 percent, make sure that everyone else has a bottom line of lower-middle-class, and even everything out.  Scandinavian-style socialism, in other words.

            You do know why Iceland didn't have an economic meltdown, right?  They nationalized the banks (or something like that: I'm not an economist, I only play one on the blogs, lol) and rejected Eurozone austerity.  And bounced back.

            I like the new president of Greece.  Whether he can prevail against that thug Merkel or has to return to the drachma to restore his country's prosperity, I don't know.

            To make the argument that the media has a left- or right-wing, or a liberal or a conservative bias, is like asking if the problem with Al-Qaeda is do they use too much oil in their hummus. Al Franken

            by Youffraita on Sun Jun 10, 2012 at 12:15:46 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Iceland did have a financial meltdown (0+ / 0-)

              and didn't nationalize the banks any more than the US "nationalized" the auto companies, and implemented roughly 30% across-the-board austerity to get IMF loans, much of the money of which went to helping restructure the banking industry so it could pay off its debts.  And with our currency worth less than half of what it used to be (in a country where most goods are imported and loans were often linked to foreign currencies), our unemployment rate several times what it used to be, currency restrictions in full force, etc, I'd hardly call the country "bounced back".  Recovering, yes, but anything but "recovered".

  •  One of my dear friends lives in her district (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    phonegery, jan4insight, madhaus

    He says she wins because the Dems and Independent split the vote.  The same way they got Pawlenty who also won because of the Dem/Ind split.  If the state had run-off elections she would be gone.

    I'm for truth, no matter who tells it. I'm for justice, no matter who it's for or against. Malcolm X

    by amazinggrace on Fri Jun 08, 2012 at 03:47:12 PM PDT

  •  Meanwhile Senator Amy tells us she's bipartisan (0+ / 0-)

    However when I drove across MN-5 in Oct 2008 and counted the first 100 lawn signs Obama had 98 of them.

  •  So this is what they mean when they say "All (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    politics is local."

    History merely repeats itself; it doesn't cure its own ills. That is the burden of the present.

    by ZedMont on Fri Jun 08, 2012 at 04:19:56 PM PDT

    •  I was about to say the same thing... (0+ / 0-)

      ...but without the snark.  It's just possible she (or her staff) takes very good care of her constituents.  That can outweigh a lot of daffy positions on national issues.

      •  Can't let that go by without comment... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Youffraita, she does not give her constituents good service. Not even her conservative constituents--in ten years in government/elected office...

        ...she's delivered absolutely nothing in the way of conservative reform, or policy making, or law making, or economic benefits to the district. (Her Sixth CD of Minnesota had the highest home foreclosure rate in the state, through all her terms.)

        It really is the factors I mention in the diary--the smart playing strategy of movement conservatism and conservative evangelical national politics--not her "service to constituents," not her "performance as a leader who delivers on reforms," not her pork performance for the district.

        This is why I have trouble explaining their success to people conversant with the usual "rules" on getting re-elected. They don't apply here, in the case of Bachmann and her imitators.

        Co-author of the first political biography of Michele Bachmann: Michele Bachmann's America

        by Bill Prendergast on Fri Jun 08, 2012 at 10:57:39 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I don't think "all politics is local," these days. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I think movement conservatism and the Christian right are national, and I think they capture local elections in the way I outlined in the diary. I think the people who run those movements and their media are intelligent, experienced, pragmatic, and politically sophisticated. (I don't dismiss them because the content and message of their politics is lunacy. It is. But I don't dismiss them for that reason (as some do here.) Because they win, regularly, against the forces of political sanity.)

      When progressives combine with liberal and establishment candidates in the face of a Republican conservative government collapse--we can win. That's a fact. And progressive candidates can win in local districts where progressives are well organized and the voters are tolerant of change. That's a fact, too.

      But progressivism as a nationally organized political force is weak; inherently weak, divided, and prone to making and carrying out threats against other anti-conservative allies. Progressives are strong enough to screw Democrats and keep them out of power; they're not nearly as strong as they need to be to screw Republicans and conservatives and keep them out of power.

      Co-author of the first political biography of Michele Bachmann: Michele Bachmann's America

      by Bill Prendergast on Fri Jun 08, 2012 at 11:25:27 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  It only takes a few (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    sociopaths to take control of a democracy.

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