Minnesota Government Update
October 15, 2008
The latest poll of Minnesota voters conducted last week by Quinnipiac University shows Senator Barack Obama ahead of Senator John McCain by 11 percentage points in the presidential race; a 51 to 40 percent contest. Both candidates are holding on to their party base support with Obama leading McCain amongst women voters. Independents are showing their support for Obama.
In the Minnesota United States Senate race, latest polls show incumbent Republican Norm Coleman has 36 percent and DFL challenger Al Franken has 38 percent with a four percent margin of error. Independence Party candidate Dean Barkley is holding firm at 18 percent. Barkley is receiving support from both parties with support of 11 percent of Republican voters and 12 percent from DFLers.
Voter Registration Numbers Increasing
Targeted voter registration efforts by the campaigns and the Secretary of State have resulted in more than 60,000 new voter registrations this year. Secretary of State Mark Ritchie predicts an 80 percent voter turnout come November 4. The largest share of the new registrants are from Hennepin, Ramsey and Saint Louis counties which encompass the cities of Minneapolis, Saint Paul and Duluth. The biggest growth areas are urban core and college and university campuses. However, registrations are up in the suburban metro counties of Anoka, Dakota and Washington as well.
Dedicating Taxes for the Arts and Environment
This November 4, the ballot in Minnesota will include a proposed constitutional amendment to raise the sales tax by .375 percent for 25 years. The sales receipts would be dedicated to clean water projects, wildlife habitat, parks and trails and the arts. A recent poll by Minnesota Public Radio and the Humphrey Institute shows voters at a 46 percent approval rating with 36 percent opposed. Additionally, nine percent do not plan to vote on the ballot question and 10 percent were undecided. If a voter skips the constitutional amendment question, it counts as a "No" vote as 50 percent of all persons voting must approve the amendment. The Vote Yes campaign is working hard to educate voters about the benefits of the various programs, while those opposed are claiming the funds would be better spent at the discretion of the Legislature rather than by constitutional amendment.
Hot Minnesota Congressional Races
In Minnesota's Third Congressional District, the race for retiring Republican member Jim Ramstad's seat is getting nasty. Republican Erik Paulsen and Democrat Ashwin Madia have been slinging mud back and forth with a variety of independent expenditures contributing to the fray. Rep. Ramstad and former Rep. Bill Frenzel called on the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) to pull unfair character attack ads on Erik Paulsen. Ramstad said Madia is, "running the dirtiest campaign our district has ever seen." The Madia campaign said they have no control over the DCCC. A Madia spokesman charged Paulsen with sponsoring misleading advertisements and mischaracterizations of Madia's position on taxes.
Incumbent Republican Michele Bachmann has stepped up her campaign to maintain her Sixth Congressional District seat with a large television ad buy. On the fundraising front, Bachmann has out raised Elwyn Tinklenberg by more than 2 to 1. The race is heating up now that the DCCC has added DFL challenger Tinklenberg to its Red to Blue program. Red to Blue is a DCCC program highlighting challengers the DCCC believes are capable of taking out Republican incumbents. The DCCC has seen strong organization and recent momentum from the Tinklenberg campaign. The DCCC gives an average of $400,000 to each candidate in the Red to Blue program.
For up-to-date information about the Minnesota Legislature, tune into Almanac: At the Capitol. This lively and informative program is aired Wednesdays during the legislative session on Twin Cities Public Television at 7:00 PM on Channel 17 and at 10:00 PM on Channel 2.
Almanac: At the Capitol is seen on all public television stations throughout Minnesota and in Fargo. Winthrop & Weinstine is the exclusive law-firm partner and a sponsor of the program.
For more information and to see previous broadcasts, check out the Almanac: At the Capitol Web site at http://tpt.org/aatc/.