Tuesday, October 21, 2008

If not for the coffee, then come for the bellwether??

Could North Dakota be the new Missouri?

Maybe this is an outlier poll, and I don’t mean to step on the toes of the professional Poll Smokers on this site, and maybe its sample size is all wrong or someone is reading the compass backwards, but this appears to be a significant poll giving the State of North Dakota to Sen. Barack Obama in the 2008 Presidential Campaign.

While there certainly isn’t an overabundance of Presidential polling on North Dakota, it isn’t the first time Obama came out on top:

“The last publicly reported North Dakota presidential poll, taken Sept. 16-17, showed McCain led Obama 53 percent to 40 percent, the latest in a string of surveys this year showing the Republican was ahead in North Dakota. But an early poll, in February, surprised many politicos when Obama was shown leading 46 percent to 42 percent.”

But this is important primarily for what it says about a state that hasn’t gone Democratice since Lyndon Johnson in 1964 (over Goldwater), and has only gone Democratic three times since 1916, when it helped Woodrow Wilson squeak past a Supreme Court Justice Charles Evans Hughes and being big fans of term limits NoDak voted for FDR in ‘32 and ‘36 but not in ‘40 or ‘44. (***The Charles Evans Hughes candidacy really strikes me as bizarre and totally implausible today - SCOTUS Justices have personalities that only legal junkies and wonks can appreicate - I could however imagine a fiesty Ruth Bader Ginsburg appearing at an endorsing convention in the Midwest and discussing the difference between herself and a pit bull.)

While the conventional wisdom suggests that this poll likely overstates support for Obama in NoDak, it certainly underscores the problems McCain is having here, and elsewhere, sollidifying his base. Here, more than self-identified “Independent Republicans”, or “WeakRepublicans”, 17% of “Strong Republicans” identified themselves as likely Obama Voters. For their part, 73% of “Strong Republicans” identified as McCain voters, with 10% of “Strong Republicans” as Undecided. This is a BIG problem for McCain.

I think its fair to say that 4 years ago a campaign surrogate the level of “The Todd” (or First Dude or whatever) would not be heading to Moorhead, MN to stump 3 weeks before election day. This would be one of the largest cities (a whopping 32k individuals) in Minnesota’s 7th Congressional District, who can boast the Bluest of Blue Dogs Rep. Collin Peterson (D), and an otherwise reliably Republican Congressional District that voted for Bush over Kerry in ‘04, 55 to 43%, and Bush over Gore in 2000, roughly 55 to 41%.

“Todd Palin, the self-described “First Dude” of Alaska, is a familiar figure among snowmobile buffs and other outdoorsy types, said Tom Steward, the St. Paul-based regional communications director for the John McCain-Sarah Palin campaign.”

Clearly, the Palin-McCain campaign is trying to replicate previous success with local Joe’s Six Pack: “Steward said Palin was a hit at September’s Hay Days Grass Drags, a Forest Lake, Minn., event marking the kickoff of the snowmobile racing season. “Hundreds of people flocked to him because they know him as a champion snowmobile racer and an outdoors guy,” Stewart said.”

Good Luck, Todd; by the way, we don’t call them “snowmachines” in the Red River Valley, FYI.

Link: “Obama Leads in ND,” http://www.in-forum.com/articles/index.cfm?id=218215&section=news.
Link: “Palin’s Husband to Visit Moorhead,” http://www.in-forum.com/articles/index.cfm?id=218216&section=news&CFID=101921012&CFTOKEN=71511221&jsessionid=8830fa1b78191ca3fa69

-Jeffrey Oak

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