We're Just Five Weeks Away. The election draws ever nearer and it's very difficult at this juncture to pick winners. This is especially true in Minnesota where, while incumbent US Senator Amy Klobuchar and President Obama are likely winners, it's anyone's guess as to which party will control the Legislature. I've spent 37 years in this business and there are always surprises on election day and this is one of those rare years when an isolated surprise may actually determine which party is in control of the respective houses of the Legislature come January.
When the boundaries for the newly reapportioned legislative districts were released in February, I was a bit puzzled by the map. There seemed to be a lot of "tortured" districts that weren't based on the "communities of interest" methodology by which legislative districts are comprised of similar communities with similar needs. One of the problems with modern democracy is that population patterns have produced legislative districts that are "safe" seats for one party or the other (for a sterling description of that phenomenon, read Bill Bishop's "The Big Sort" described at: http://www.thebigsort.com/home.php).
What the court did in its reapportionment plan was create a number of very competitive legislative districts where it is difficult to discern a winner (perhaps even a favorite) at this point in the election process. So how to make sense of this?
MinnPost has put together the best tool--at least in my estimation--for handicapping the various races by creating an interactive map on their website featuring what they deem the 28 key races (12 Senate, 16 House) that will determine control of the Legislature for the next biennium. The only caution I would urge is that there will likely be surprises from races not featured by MinnPost and any surprise could swing control one way or the other.
One of the dynamics that is showing up in polling to this point is the possible effect of the constitutional amendments. Both amendments are not doing particularly well in the urban core and inner-ring suburbs. However, most polls are showing that they are passing comfortably in the outer-ring suburbs and most of Greater Minnesota. How this translates to legislative races is anyone's guess and as Baird Helgeson wrote in the StarTribune on Sunday, most legislative candidates are staying quiet on the issue. Still, one would think this might favor conservatives outstate as they attempt to retain control of the state House and Senate.
MinnPost interactive map: http://www.minnpost.com/data/2012/09/interactive-who-will-control-2013-minnesota-legislature
StarTribune Constitutional Amendment/Legislative Races article: http://www.startribune.com/politics/statelocal/171946921.html
Nice Job MASA! I spent today at Madden's at the MASA conference and I say "Good work Gary (Amoroso) and company!" (Note to self: You owe Gary $5 for introducing you as a dignified guest.")
Great speakers and breakout sessions and a lot of very good opportunities to meet with vendors and network with colleagues. Great to see so many SEE members there.