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: