Dayton v. Kennedy

Returning Senator Mark Dayton to the Ranks of the Idle Rich in 2006

11/22/2004

Reshaping Minnesota's Electorate

One took supreme comfort on election night/morning when Michael Barone, the foremost political technician ever, began crunching the numbers in Ohio and proclaimed he just couldn't see where John Kerry could harvest the requisite votes necessary to carry the state. Why? Well, as principal coauthor of The Almanac of American Politics, Barone simply knows stuff at the precinct level few others even bother to contemplate.

Which is why Barone's piece in this week's U.S. News and World Reports is so encouraging. Barone contends that the elevation of Ken Mehlman to head the Republican National Committee could be a seminal moment in the Republican Party's quest for majority status.

Says Barone: "If Karl Rove was the architect of George W. Bush's thumping re-election victory, Mehlman was the structural engineer who turned the plans into reality. Mehlman's great achievement was to create a largely volunteer organization of 1.4 million people who turned out the vote in counties big and small for Bush."

How does this relate to the upcoming midterm election in Minnesota? "Re-elected presidents seldom do much for their parties; certainly Reagan and Nixon didn't. Roosevelt did, and Bush evidently intends to also. Look for Mehlman to continue engineering volunteer organizations to increase Republican turnout and further reshape the electorate. Obvious targets are New Jersey and Virginia, which elect governors in 2005. Neither was a battleground state this fall; Bush ran better in New Jersey and a little worse in Virginia than expected, and Mehlman would like to make Virginia safer and put New Jersey in play. Then there are the 2006 Senate races in Pennsylvania, where Republican Rick Santorum could face a serious challenge, and in Michigan and Minnesota, where freshman Democrats are likely to face serious challenges. "

Clearly it is Mehlman's intent to turn pool chalk blue Minnesota into a nice salmon color come 2006 through a continued mobilization of volunteers at the precinct level. I wouldn't bet against him.

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