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    May 9th, 2009


    On Thursday, May 7, 2009 the St. Cloud Times reported that Dr. Maureen Reed, 2006 Independence Party candidate for lieutenant governor, filed federal documents allowing her to raise money to run on the Democratic ticket in 2010 for the 6th Congressional District seat held by U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann (“Reed to challenge Bachmann for House seat,” May 7, 2009).

    In the report, the Times quoted Reed as saying, “People say this race can be won and will be won with a tight, concerted effort by both parties [the IP and the DFL] to back a moderate candidate,” she said. “I think I’m the perfect candidate for the district.”

    (More later on my strategy to defeat Bachmann.)

    Following Reed’s announcement, “Elwyn Tinklenberg, last year’s [2008] DFL- and Independence Party-endorsed candidate, said he would seek a rematch with Bachmann in 2010 as well,” according to the Times report.

    Last November, Bachmann won re-election with a plurality of 46.3 percent of the vote in a congressional district that gave Republican contender John McCain, with 53 percent, the largest vote percentage over Barack Obama of any of Minnesota’s eight congressional districts and putting it strongly in the Republican column in the Cook Political Report.

    The Times report concludes by noting that “Aubrey Immelman, a College of St. Benedict/St. John’s University psychology professor who challenged Bachmann in the Republican primary and later as a write-in candidate, said late last month that he hasn’t decided whether to take on Bachmann again.”

    I told Gannett Washington Bureau political reporter Larry Bivens on April 23 that Bachmann is vulnerable, but not to a Democrat.

    “I think Rep. Bachmann can be defeated,” Immelman said, “but only in a Republican primary.”

    On Thursday, May 7, Doug Grow reported in the MinnPost (“Update: The line forms in the middle for candidates eager to take on Michele Bachmann”) that “Reed’s approach will be little different from Tinklenberg’s. She will offer herself as the candidate in the middle, a self-described ‘Blue Dog Democrat.’ ”

    Grow then outlined some unique challenges for any Democrat facing off against Bachmann, including the fact that Bachmann’s “wildly controversial statements … don’t seem to hurt her,” instead turning her into “a money-raising machine”; and the fact that “Bachmann never has lost the devotion of her base, the social conservatives from fundamentalist churches.”

    My point of view

    TheUptake_Avidor.jpg Immelman vs. Bachmann picture by Rifleman-Al
    Image: Ken Avidor / Dump Bachmann / TheUptake

    My rationale for challenging Bachmann in the 2008 Republican primary was to probe the numerical strength of Bachmann’s core constituency — true believers willing to turn out at the polls to protect Bachmann from a challenge by a non-base Republican.

    The answer: fewer than 20,000 of the more than 430,000 registered voters in Minnesota’s 6th Congressional District.

    In my opinion, the correct strategy to defeat Bachmann flows logically from that determination: mobilize 20,000 voters from across the political spectrum, including moderate, non-base Republicans; independents; and Democrats to prevent Bachmann from getting out of the gate in Minnesota’s 2010 open primary.

    If Bachmann makes it through the primary and onto the November general election ballot, she’ll draw support from a much broader constituency: the Republican and Republican-leaning 6th District majority that simply will not vote for a Democrat.

    If Bachmann makes it through the gate, her constituency jumps tenfold from fewer than 20,000 hardcore primary supporters to nearly 200,000 – the majority of which is soft support, but nonetheless an insurmountable obstacle for Democrats, who make up less than 40 percent of Sixth District voters.

    If Bachmann advances beyond the 2010 Republican primary, she is virtually assured of being returned to Congress for two more years in the November 2010 general election.

    MinnPost quotes Maureen Reed as saying, “I want to concentrate on the things that matter most to people day in and day out … the economy, health care, jobs.”

    When the widely respected Patty Wetterling — who enjoys near-universal name recognition in Minnesota – campaigned on exactly those Democratic issues against a non-incumbent Bachmann in 2006, it garnered her 42 percent of the vote.

    For those who want to see Bachmann disappear from the political landscape, it’s important to understand that the issues championed by Democratic candidates will not receive a rational hearing in Minnesota’s 6th District as long as the debate is framed by Bachmann and her fundamentalist base.

    As long as Bachmann is the incumbent Republican candidate, 6th District politics will be framed by identity politics, social conservatism, and the culture wars.

    To use a medical metaphor (a nod to Dr. Reed), Bachmann must be surgically removed by invasive, radical intervention before we can even begin to consider the treatment regimen implicit in the policy options proposed by Democratic candidates.

    I offer such a plan to defeat Michele Bachmann in 2010.

    As long as Bachmann is on the Republican ticket, the political fortunes of the 6th District will be governed by human irrationality, not the give-and-take of reasoned political discourse.

    Yes, we can sit down and have a rational, meaningful discussion about what’s best for Minnesota’s 6th District, but only when Bachmann is removed from her seat at the table.

    ——————————

    Related reports

    Analysis of the 2008 Minnesota state primary election results for the 6th Congressional District

    Michele Bachmann still a lightning rod

    Bachmann leads Minnesota House delegation in campaign contributions by individuals and small donors

    Answer to 6th District: Unorthodox strategy or chop it to pieces

    ————————————————

    Related reports on this site

    Bachmann’s Seat Safe (May 17, 2010)

    Building a Non-Partisan Coalition (Aug. 5, 2009)

    Can a Democrat Beat Bachmann? (July 27, 2009)

    ——————

    SIDEBAR

    As shown in the table below, the September 2008 Minnesota state primary election result predicted the outcome of the November general election to within one percentage point. The only significant shift in numbers is that without Immelman on the ballot in the general election, his share of the vote went to third-party candidate Anderson.

                                           Primary   General
    Republican
    Michele Bachmann           47.2%     46.4%
    Aubrey Immelman              7.7%      ——-

    Independence
    Bob Anderson                    2.0%     10.0%

    Democratic
    El Tinklenberg                  43.1%     43.4%

    —————————————

    Election 2012 update

    8-14-12 — A primary referendum on Bachmann

    Michele Bachmann . . . . . Aubrey Immelman . . . . Stephen Thompson

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    16 Responses to “How to Beat Bachmann”
    1. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » MN-06: Who is ‘The Third Man’? Says:

      [...] How to Beat Bachmann (May 9, 2009) [...]

    2. Aubrey Immelman Says:

      Cross-posted from Minnesota Independent at http://minnesotaindependent.com/38959/clark-stays-mum-as-field-in-bachmanns-district-takes-shape

      All three Democrats named in the article have unique strengths: Elwyn Tinklenberg acquired a national profile after Bachmann’s Oct. 2009 anti-American rant on “Hardball”; Maureen Reed has strong credentials and a no-nonsense, “can-do” attitude; and Tarryl Clark has a strong political resume and plenty of personal charisma.

      Whoever advances to the general election ballot will have a difficult row to hoe. The 6th is Minnesota’s most Republican district, meaning that on paper it would be tougher for a Democrat to defeat Bachmann than it would be to defeat Kline or Paulsen.

      The truth of the matter is that 96-97% of incumbents are reelected and as a second-term incumbent Bachmann will be even less vulnerable than she was in 2008. In addition, Democrats won’t have Obama at the top of the ticket to get out the vote.

      I remain convinced that the most viable strategy to defeat Bachmann is to knock her out of contention in the open Republican primary. More detail at link below:

      http://www.immelman.us/news/how-to-beat-bachmann/

    3. Aubrey Immelman Says:

      Cross-posted from MinnPost at
      http://tinyurl.com/MinnPost-EricBlack-Tink-Vow

      I’m skeptical that *any* Democrat can win in the Sixth. Approximately 96-97% of incumbents are reelected and as a second-term incumbent Bachmann will be less vulnerable than she was in 2008. In addition, Democrats won’t have Obama at the top of the ticket to get out the vote. Moreover, the party in the White House typically loses seats in the first off-year election after winning the presidency. Thus, Democratic prospects in the 6th District will be bleaker in 2010 than they were in 2006 and 2008.

      Of course, it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that Rep. Bachmann will crash and burn in the next year, but it seems to me the more outrageous her inflammatory political rhetoric, the more delusional her conspiracy theories, and the more florid her political paranoia, the more popular she becomes with her base.

      Hope springs eternal, but any Democratic primary challenge will be a sure recipe for disaster in 2010. As noted in the article, it will pit Democrat against Democrat until mid-September, leaving less than two months to campaign against Bachmann.

      I remain convinced that the most viable strategy to defeat Bachmann is to knock her out of contention in the open Republican primary, but that cannot happen if there are contested Democratic races in the 6th District U.S. House or Minnesota gubernatorial races. More information at the link below:

      http://www.immelman.us/news/how-to-beat-bachmann/

    4. Aubrey Immelman Says:

      Cross-posted from mnpACT! at http://www.mnpact.org/sblog/blog.php?id=1815

      As a Republican campaign volunteer for Democrat Patty Wetterling in two elections, I’ve concluded that the only viable strategy to defeat Bachmann is to shut her down in the September Republican primary — but that cannot happen if there are contested Democratic races in the 6th District U.S. House or Minnesota gubernatorial races.

      Bachmann’s Achilles’ heel is not her outrageous political rhetoric or delusional conspiracy theories; it endears her to her base. Bachmann’s Achilles’ heel is Minnesota’s open primary system, which allows Democrats and Independents to vote along with reasonable Republicans against Bachmann in the Republican primary.

      In 2008, barely 19,000 of the 6th District’s more than 430,000 registered voters turned out for Bachmann. Anyone with the means and ability to mobilize 20,000 voters from across the political spectrum in the Republican primary can beat Bachmann. …

    5. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Can a Democrat Beat Bachmann? Says:

      [...] How to Beat Bachmann (May 9, 2009) [...]

    6. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Building a Non-Partisan Coalition Says:

      [...] For a more detailed analysis of how to beat Bachmann, I concluded: “In 2008, barely 19,000 of the 6th District’s more than 430,000 registered voters turned out for Bachmann. Anyone with the means and ability to mobilize 20,000 voters from across the political spectrum in the Republican primary can beat Bachmann.” [...]

    7. Aubrey Immelman Says:

      Cross-posted from MinnPost at http://tinyurl.com/MinnPost-Black-Clark-endorse

      From the article: “Most DFLers seem to think that the IP in general and Anderson in particular cost the DFL the last election in the district (Bachmann, 46.4 percent; Tinklenberg, 43.4; Anderson, 10.04). The logic seems to be that the voters are voting for or against Bachmann and the IP candidate splits the anti-Bachmann vote.”

      That was my thinking, too. But when I work the numbers, the empirical support just isn’t there, or weak at best.

      For Tinklenberg to have defeated Bachmann in a hypothetical two-way race, we would first have to assume that all of Anderson’s 40,643 voters (a) would have turned out at the polls and (b) expressed a preference for either Tinklenberg or Bachmann (as opposed to, say, spoiling the ballot, voting for a write-in candidate, or writing in “Lizard People,” Mickey Mouse, or Ham Sandwich).

      Second, for Tinklenberg to have won, he would have had to gain two out of every three Anderson votes, which would have given him a narrow 50.1 percent to 49.7 percent victory over Bachmann. However, that flies in the face of the well-documented pattern that undecided voters tend to break for the incumbent — in this case, Bachmann.

      Even if Tinklenberg and Bachmann had split the Anderson vote 50-50 in a hypothetical two-way race, Bachmann would still have won, 51.4 percent to 48.5 percent.

      Additional analysis at the links below:

      http://www.immelman.us/news/can-a-democrat-beat-bachmann/

      http://www.immelman.us/news/how-to-beat-bachmann/

    8. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Poll: Bachmann Approval at 51% Says:

      [...] How to Beat Bachmann (May 9, 2009) [...]

    9. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » MN-6 Poll: Bachmann Approval 53% Says:

      [...] How to Beat Bachmann (May 9, 2009) [...]

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    12. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » MN-06: Bachmann Clark Polling Says:

      [...] How to Beat Bachmann (May 9, 2009) [...]

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      [...] How to Beat Bachmann (May 9, 2009) [...]

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    16. Immelman vs. Bachmann » Blog Archive » Minnesota 6th Congressional District Polling and Analysis Says:

      [...] How to Beat Bachmann (May 9, 2009) [...]

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