Star Tribune v. Smart Politics: Minnesota’s most competitive congressional district


 I recently noted  that the Star Tribune had called the First Congressional District  the most competitive in GOP sees Walz’s First District seat as ripe for picking:

Taking stock of what has been the most competitive congressional seat in Minnesota in recent years, Republican leaders, hoping to tap a vein of Tea Party discontent, have targeted Walz in their “Code Red” media blitz. Democrats and their labor allies have run TV ads thanking him for his vote.

“This is the kind of race that’s going to be a test of which way the pendulum swings in November,” said Joseph Kunkel, chairman of the Political Science Department at Minnesota State University, Mankato. “He could be vulnerable to a tide, if the tide was big enough. But the Republicans are going to need a good candidate.”

I found this description odd. Yesterday, I pointed out that several commonly used indicators suggest that Minnesota’s Sixth is more competitive than the First.

Moreover, it’s arguable that the NRCC did little targeting of Walz beyond issuing a press release about robocalls; indeed, many First district friends wonder if calls were made in the district at all. During the run up to the vote, Walz’s name was absent from the Code Red web site target list.

As for Dr. Kunkel’s observation that “the Republicans are going to need a good candidate,” the friend Charlie Quimby tweeted it best:

“But the Republicans are going to need a good candidate” sorta like “but Ted Williams will need a body once they thaw his head.”

Smart Politics offered a different take in Tarryl Clark Shatters Minnesota U.S. House Fundraising Record for Q1 of Election Year. Eric Ostermeier writes:

Clark’s gaudy fundraising numbers – vis-à-vis those of her predecessors – are the result of a variety of factors: the strength of her own candidacy, the fact there is more money in politics today than at any point in U.S. political history, the controversial nature of the district’s GOP incumbent, the fact that her DFL primary opponent is also well-funded, and the recent historical competitiveness of her 6th Congressional District.

Smart Politics recently reported that the 6th CD has been the 11th most competitive U.S. House district in the nation over the past four election cycles.

The only other Minnesota congressional district to earn a place in Ostermeier’s list of The Top 50 Most Competitive U.S. House Districts in the Nation (2002-2008)is the Second, now held by John Kline. It comes in at #36.

Given the lackluster fundraising last year by Walz’s potential opponents, as well as these other indices, one wonders what information Kevin Diaz and Baird Helgeson used when they chose to describe the district as the state’s most competitive. 

Surely there’s more to finding an angle than just Republican press releases?