Ground game matters more
The lastest poll for Minnesota's Eighth District race indicates that voters are evenly split between DFL candidate Rick Nolan and Rep. Chip Cravaack (R-MN/NH). About ten percent of those polled are still undecided. This means that these last three and a half weeks are crucial.
Cravaack has more cash on hand. He reported $1.1 million in the bank and that he raised $471,000 in the third quarter. Nolan's latest press release that I received states he outraised Cravaack, bringing in $484,663 in the third quarter. Nolan presser also states he only has $464,824 cash on hand.
Both sides have Super PACs spending vast amounts on ads. Considering Minnesota's Eighth District is one of the cheapest radio and TV markets in the country, I think both sides will be able to get out their messaging -- both about themselves and about their opponents. I'm guessing most folks up there are aggressively using the Mute button or DVR'ing everything and fast-forwarding through the ads.
Nolan leads Cravaack in the ground game. Details below the orange curly bits.
Obama For America (OFA) is working hard all across the state. Sen. Amy Klobuchar has a strong organization in MN-08. The DFL Party has had two strong fundraising years under Chair Ken Martin and has rebuilt capacity up there.
Romney hasn't opened a campaign office in Minnesota. The MNGOP Senate candidate Kurt Bills is a clown who only recently stopped teaching High School to campaign full-time. The Republican Party of MN is broke and having trouble fundraising.
In other words, Cravaack is on his own.
Cravaack won in a non-presidential year when turnout was low and the Tea Party was riding high. Cravaack and the GOP did a good job of getting their people out. And the DFL and allies failed utterly. Yet, Cravaack didn't win by much.
277,081 voted in 2010. Cravaack won by just under 5,000. 375,284 voted in 2008. That's a hair under 100,000 more votes. Even considering turnout in '08 was freaky high, turnout in the previous presidential year (2004) was still 350,000. So expecting 70,000 more voters this time out isn't unrealistic.
So all those extra people that Obama and Klobuchar turn out will more likely than not vote DFL down the ticket. And Romney and Bills aren't doing squat to help Cravaack.
Nolan is counting on the DFL to work hard on GOTV and Cravaack will get little to zero help from the MNGOP.
Furthermore, there's a wild card this year. MN United will have a huge GOTV turnout effort to Vote No on the so-called "marriage" amendment. They are reaching voters OFA, Klobuchar and the DFL might not reach. While MN United is bi-partisan and nobody has any way to measure the overlap with the other GOTV efforts, higher turnout is never good for Republicans.