The Minneapolis Star-Tribune (Minnesota's largest newspaper) does a lot of things wrong. But one of the things they do RIGHT is that every two years they commission a reputable polling outfit to conduct what the Star-Tribune calls the "Minnesota Poll." This time they hired Pulse Opinion Research to poll the MN 8th Congressional District, which is anchored by Duluth at the southwest corner of Lake Superior, and stretches west along the Canadian border almost to North Dakota (the so-called "Iron Range', named for the iron mines in the area) and south to the northern ex-urbia/sprawl of the Twin Cities. (See map
The latest news (this morning) is that Democratic challenger Rick Nolan now LEADS incumbent Chip Cravaack (R/Tea Party) by 50-43. (1000 voters polled; Margin of Error: 3.0%)
Link to full story HERE.
Some further details past the orange frosted breakfast croissant...
The 8th district has been historically Democratic, with a strong, unionized workforce of miners and their families. It was represented by Jim Oberstar (a Democrat) for over 30 straight years.
In 2010 Oberstar showed he had gotten rather too comfortable in his seat and the Tea Party tide (coupled with poor turnout among Democratic voters) carried Chip Cravaack (R-Klingon Home World) to an upset victory.
Cravaack has spent the last 2 years in DC voting for the entire Tea Party agenda. More tellingly he has moved his wife and children to New Hampshire (she apparently got an excellent position with a Boston firm doing something white collar & lucrative in a binder or two....)
He also has made it a habit over the last year and more of hiding from his constituents. Oh, he'll announce a "town hall, open meeting" and ask everyone to come. Somehow, the Tea party types always seem to get the word in advance, and are happy to attend, shoot videos, and then send these in to various media outlets. For the rest of the public...not so much. The Cravaack method is on, say, a Tuesday, to announce, "town hall, open meeting" tomorrow (Wednesday) 10:30am at the rest stop picnic shelter at mile post 136 on "the road to International Falls." Like working folks can attend that....on short notice....if they can find out WHICH road to International Falls. (BTW, the International Falls "Icebox of the Nation" Town motto is "I-Falls: 10 months of winter, and 2 months of bad sledding.")
The Democrats were stunned at Cravaack's victory and it shook them out of their complacency. They had a hard-fought (still some bruises left), 3-way primary, from which Rick Nolan emerged the winner. Nolan is a former MN Congressman, but from a different district...which he represented from 1974 to 1980! (When we say "old school" we really mean it!)
Outside groups (like Karl Rove's band of cutthroats and Norm "Horse Dentures" Coleman's group) have put a lot of money into this ($4 million & more, which is kind of an almost-but-not-quite bad thing; the Iron Range has been hurting for years economically, long before the Great Recession, so millions of dollars flowing into media outlets in places like Bemidji & Baudette is kind of a good thing. But still, its political advertising....)
Nolan has been making a fight of it and pulling into a tie. Today's poll adds to the luster of his internals and also pegs him at the all important 50% mark.
Going into the crosstabs there are a couple of observations:
Nolan leads by +3 among men and +10 among women (which USUALLY means you will be leading overall....except on Faux Noise of course).
Among age groups, Nolan leads in all categories EXCEPT Cravaack leads by +5 among voters aged 40-49...(what has put the leading edge of GenX in that mood?)
Cut the cloth among religious outlooks, and Nolan leads by +12 among (normal) Protestants and by +10 among Catholics. Among "other religions" (the Zen Temple of Bemidji; Isis Lovers of International Falls; Dyonisius Devotees of Duluth; atheists; and maybe (or maybe not) the agnostics) Nolan leads by +41 (!). Cravaack leads among the fundagelicals (which is an OTHER religion all unto itself) by +35.
Some odd numbers among income levels:
Under $20,000 Nolan +36
$20K-$40K Nolan +5
$40K-$60K Craavack +9
$60K-$75K Nolan +12
$75K-$100K Craavack +5
$100K and up Nolan +16.
All by way of saying, it's still close, but Nolan seems to be edging ahead and MN may well deliver a net +1 to Nancy Pelosi.