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Bachmann … on GOP’s Most-Vulnerable-Incumbents List

Bachmann
Rep. Michele Bachmann (Photo: Huffington Post)

By Paul Schmelzer
The Minnesota Independent
July 23, 2009

The National Republican Congressional Committee has added another Minnesota representative to its list of most vulnerable incumbents for 2010: Rep. Michele Bachmann joins Rep. Erik Paulsen in the NRCC’s “Patriot Program,” Roll Call reports.

The NRCC announced it is adding 15 more candidates to its fundraising program, bumping the total count of incumbents to 25. Bachmann’s addition means she’ll compete to make a final cut of 10 candidates who’ll participate in the next “Patriot Day,” a one-day fundraiser that brought in almost $100,000 last time it was held, in June. …

The Swing State Project states that Bachmann is in “real danger” next election; she’s among three “Patriot Program” members elected with the lowest margin of victory in 2008 – three percentage points or less.

———

In a reader comment posted July 23, 2009 at 11:29 p.m. on the comment thread for the Minnesota Independent article excerpted above, Traci Baker observes:

I’m from Canada, and my husband and I regularly read Michelle Bachmann’s nonsense on the internet or we catch her on cable news. She is a disgrace pure and simple! Luckily we live close enough to the U.S. that we know her view isn’t shared by many. Unfortunately, the wordwide view of Americans is tarnished because of people like her and GWB. Fortunately, President Obama has begun to restore the sheen …… cheers and good luck in 2010!

I reference the above reader comment, because contemporaneously a new poll provides empirical evidence that the international image of the United States is beginning to mend after a steep decline associated with the U.S. invasion of Iraq:

Poll: U.S. image abroad surges under Obama (AP, June 23, 2009) — A survey of 25 nations conducted by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center has found that positive public attitudes toward the United States have surged in many parts of the world since President Barack Obama’s election. Positive opinions about the United States have returned to higher levels not seen since before President George W. Bush took office in 2001. The Bush presidency marked a steep decline in U.S. popularity overseas, notably after the 2003 invasion of Iraq, because of a perception that the post-9/11 war on terrorism was targeted at Muslims. …

———

11/14/09 Update

Poll: Bachmann approval at 51% (Nov. 14, 2009) — A Minnesota survey of 1,000 likely voters, conducted November 10, 2009 by Rasmussen Reports, found Rep. Michele Bachmann’s statewide job approval rating to be 51 percent, with 45 percent disapproving and 4 percent not sure. (Bachmann’s job approval likely is considerably stronger in her own district, which is the most Republican of Minnesota’s eight congressional districts.) One year before the 2010 midterm election, Bachmann appears much less vulnerable than she did in the first months after her 2008 reelection to a second term in Congress.

4/19/10 Update

Bachmann, Paulsen Fall off Rothenberg’s List of Competitive Races

By Paul Demko
April 19, 2010

U.S. Reps. Michele Bachmann and Erik Paulsen have been dropped from the Rothenberg Political Report’s list of competitive House races. Previously the the two contests had been rated as “Republican favored.”

Stuart Rothenberg is predicting wide gains for the GOP in November. So far in this election cycle, he has moved 44 contests towards the Republicans, while just four races have become more favorable for Democrats.

“Substantial Republican gains are inevitable, with net Democratic losses now looking to be at least two dozen,” Rothenberg writes. “At this point, GOP gains of 25-30 seats seem likely, though considerably larger gains in excess of 40 seats certainly seem possible.”

———

Related report

Analyst: Bachmann, Paulsen Seats No Longer ‘In Play’

By Derek Wallbank
MinnPost
April 16, 2010

WASHINGTON – The districts represented by Michele Bachmann and Erik Paulsen are no longer “in play,” according to analysts at the Rothenberg Report.

The change means that Rothenberg is predicting that no Minnesota districts are in danger of changing hands this fall, and that the delegation will remain stable at five Democrats and three Republicans.

“We don’t get wrapped up into how close races are going to be, just the likelihood of them flipping,” said Nathan Gonzales, Rothenberg’s political editor, in an e-mail explaining the change. “So, just because Bachmann is off the list doesn’t mean she’s going to get 60 percent, we just don’t think Democrats are going to defeat her this time.” …

The upgrade for Bachmann comes a day after she posted a staggering $810,000 haul in the first quarter, giving her $1.53 million cash-on-hand. That doesn’t include the more than $500,000 she’s said to have raised from the recent fundraiser with Sarah Palin, which counted for the second quarter. …

Rothenberg sees Republicans headed for large gains this fall – and it’s entirely possible they could be big enough to seize control of the House.

We are still seven months until the midterm elections, so there is at least some possibility that the landscape could shift or that Democratic attacks on the GOP could keep Republican gains down to a minimum.

Substantial Republican gains are inevitable, with net Democratic losses now looking to be at least two dozen. At this point, GOP gains of 25-30 seats seem likely, though considerably larger gains in excess of 40 seats certainly seem possible.

———

FROM THE ARCHIVES: One Year Ago Today — July 24, 2008

On the Campaign Trail: Day 10

One year ago today, on the 10th day of my 2008 campaign against U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann in Minnesota’s 6th Congressional District, I met with residents on Little Rock Lake, near Rice in Benton County, to learn about the lake’s persistent water quality problems.

Meeting with Little Rock Lake resident Nancy Carver to discuss water quality issues on the lake, July 24, 2008.
Aubrey Immelman meets with Little Rock Lake resident Nancy Carver to discuss water quality issues at Little Rock Lake, July 24, 2008.

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11 Responses to “Bachmann Rated ‘Most Vulnerable’”
  1. Aubrey Immelman Says:

    Cross-posted from Comments at
    http://dumpbachmann.blogspot.com/2009/08/michele-bachmann-makes-worst-person-in.html

    A question for you Aubrey:

    If Michele lived in MN-02 or MN-03, do you think she could get reelected? Or does the CD have to be so strongly Republican that its willingness to vote for her in spite of her positions is necessary to keep her in office?

    Pr Chris
    Chris Miller | 08.15.09 – 10:32 pm

    Pastor Chris:

    My gut feeling is yes, Bachmann can be elected in a two-way race in MN-02, which has a Cook Partisan Voting Index (CPVI) of R+4, but not in MN-03 (R+0) or MN-01 (R+1).

    However, it would be touch-and-go. MN-02, although a Republican stronghold, is more secular, with fewer social conservatives than MN-06 and more suburban, socially moderate fiscal conservatives.

    Also, MN-06 is heavily German Catholic (about one-third of voters, a plurality), whereas MN-02 in the southern Twin Cities metro has more Lutherans (Swedes and Norwegians, if you will).

    I think Lutherans are less likely to be single-issue pro-life, anti-gay marriage voters, but perhaps you can correct me on that.

    In addition, there are probably more hunters and gun owners in the more rural MN-06, so gun rights would likely loom slightly larger there as an election issue than in the more urbanized MN-02.

    The Cook Partisan Voting Index (CPVI) that I referred to above is a measure of how strongly a congressional district or state leans toward one political party compared with the nation as a whole.

    The index is derived by averaging a districts results from the previous two presidential elections and comparing them with national results. The 6th Districts index indicates that the Republican Party’s presidential candidate (R) was significantly more successful in the district than his Democratic opponent in the past two elections, exceeding the national average by seven percentage points (+7).

    This is where I turn from intuitive thinking and rational analysis to hard empirical data. Examine the CPVI below for Minnesota’s eight congressional districts.

    Minnesota 1: R+1
    Tim Walz (D)

    Minnesota 2: R+4
    John Kline (R)

    Minnesota 3: R+0
    Erik Paulsen (R)

    Minnesota 4: D+13
    Betty McCollum (D)

    Minnesota 5: D+23
    Keith Ellison (D)

    Minnesota 6: R+7
    Michele Bachmann (R)

    Minnesota 7: R+5
    Collin Peterson (D)

    Minnesota 8: D+3
    Jim Oberstar (D)

    Using the CPVI data as a basis, here are the empirically derived vulnerability rankings for Minnesotas congressional delegation in the U.S. House of Representatives, in descending order of vulnerability:

    1. Collin Peterson (D) (R+5)
    2. Tim Walz (D) (R+1)
    3. Erik Paulsen (R) (R+0)
    4. Jim Oberstar (D) (D+3)
    5. John Kline (R) (R+4)
    6. Michele Bachmann (R) (R+7)
    7. Betty McCollum (D) (D+13)
    8. Keith Ellison (D) (D+23)

    Now, anyone who pays attention to Minnesota politics will tell you no way is Collin Peterson the most vulnerable — and I agree. Peterson is a long-time incumbent Blue Dog Democrat that some might consider a “DINO.”

    However, I would say both Tim Walz and Erik Paulsen are more vulnerable than Michele Bachmann.

    Aubrey Immelman | 08.16.09 – 12:53 am

  2. Aubrey Immelman Says:

    To broaden the perspective in my previous comment, which employs the Cook Partisan Voting Index (CPVI) as a predictor of electoral vulnerability, it’s important to also consider a candidate’s percentage of votes and margin of victory.

    The NRCC Swing State Project considers Rep. Michele Bachmann vulnerable because she gained only a plurality (46.4%) of the vote (in a three-way race) and was among three “Patriot Program” members elected with the lowest margin of victory in 2008 — three percentage points or less.

    However, the case of Bill Clinton illustrates that we should be cautious in making overly strong inferences from the percentage of votes won. It’s possible to win only a plurality of the votes, yet be relatively invulnerable.

    Judging purely by the numbers, President Bill Clinton was even more vulnerable in 1996 than Rep. Bachmann will be in 2010. (Yes, I know the Electoral College is a confounding variable.)

    1992 Presidential Election

    Democratic Party
    William J. Clinton 43.0%

    Republican Party
    George H. W. Bush 37.4%

    Independent
    H. Ross Perot 18.9%

    1996 Presidential Election

    Democratic Party
    William J. Clinton 49.2%

    Republican Party
    Bob Dole 40.7%

    Reform Party
    H. Ross Perot 8.4%

    2008 Minnesota Congressional Election Results

    Minnesota 1: R+1
    Tim Walz (D)

    Democratic-Farmer-Labor
    Tim Walz 62.5%

    Republican
    Brian J. Davis 32.9%

    Independence
    Gregory Mikkelson 4.5%

    Minnesota 2: R+4
    John Kline (R)

    Republican
    John Kline 57.3%

    Democratic-Farmer-Labor
    Steve Sarvi 42.6%

    Independence
    No candidate

    Minnesota 3: R+0
    Erik Paulsen (R)

    Republican
    Erik Paulsen 48.5%

    Democratic-Farmer-Labor
    Ashwin Madia 40.9%

    Independence
    David Dillon 10.6%

    Minnesota 4: D+13
    Betty McCollum (D)

    Democratic-Farmer-Labor
    Betty McCollum 68.4%

    Republican
    Ed Matthews 31.3%

    Independence
    No candidate

    Minnesota 5: D+23
    Keith Ellison (D)

    Democratic-Farmer-Labor
    Keith Ellison 70.9%

    Republican
    Barb Davis White 22.0%

    Independence
    Bill McGaughey 6.9%

    Minnesota 6: R+7
    Michele Bachmann (R)

    Republican
    Michele Bachmann 46.4%

    Democratic-Farmer-Labor
    El Tinklenberg 43.4%

    Independence
    Bob Anderson 10.0%

    Minnesota 7: R+5
    Collin Peterson (D)

    Democratic-Farmer-Labor
    Collin Peterson 72.2%

    Republican
    Glen Menze 27.7%

    Independence
    No candidate

    Minnesota 8: D+3
    Jim Oberstar (D)

    Democratic-Farmer-Labor
    James L. Oberstar 67.7%

    Republican
    Michael Cummins 32.2%

    Independence
    No candidate

    Vulnerability Rankings

    The election results suggest that Democratic Rep. Tim Walz (MN-01) may not be as vulnerable as suggested in my previous comment. Although his district has a CPVI of R+1, he won by a solid majority of 62.5 percent — a situation reminiscent of Democrat Collin Peterson, who easily won with 72.2 percent of the vote in the conservative 7th Congressional District (R+5).

    Using percentage of the vote won as a metric, here are the empirically derived vulnerability rankings for Minnesota’s congressional delegation in the U.S. House of Representatives, in descending order of vulnerability:

    1. Michele Bachmann 46.4%
    2. Erik Paulsen 48.5%
    3. John Kline 57.3%
    4. Tim Walz 62.5%
    5. Jim Oberstar 67.7%
    6. Betty McCollum 68.4%
    7. Keith Ellison 70.9%
    8. Collin Peterson 72.2%

    Regarding actual vulnerability, the above data should be interpreted in conjunction with the CPVI. In the event of a drastic shift in public opinion away from the party of the incumbent representative, members from districts with an unfavorable CPVI become relatively vulnerable; however, this variable is counterbalanced by factors such as the length of incumbency and the personal qualities of the incumbent, including ideological orientation on the conservative-liberal dimension relative to the district’s voters, and personal charisma.

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