For a while now I've been holding my tongue as I continue to read and hear talk about how Minnesota is "in play" in the 2008 presidential election. However, it's time to stop being polite...and start getting real.
Republicans in this state and elsewhere need to wake up and smell the roses (Moses). Not only is Minnesota not "in play" in '08 as far as the presidency goes, it's possible--although probably not likely--that we could have an all-Democratic slate representing us in Washington after the 2008 elections.
You think an all-blue delegation is impossible? If you don't believe that Coleman is vulnerable, you just aren't paying attention. And if you don't think the Dems are going to throw everything they can at Michele Bachmann in the Sixth, you're dreaming. With Ramstad's retirement and John Kline apparently having to face a real candidate for a change (how real is still TBD), it's not outside the realm of possibility to imagine that the MN GOP could lose Coleman's Senate seat and all three House races.
Again, I don't think it's likely that Kline will be knocked out, but the Third District is very much up in the air and Bachmann is going to have to weather a ferocious media and money onslaught to hold on to her seat. Meanwhile, the prospects of picking off any of the current Democratic holds does not look good. Earlier, I would have thought that Tim Walz might be vulnerable, but unless something changes dramatically, he looks like he'll be returning to Washington.
The reality is that 2008 is going to be another tough year for Republicans in Minnesota. And it's going to be even worse at the top of the ticket.
In 2004, John Kerry beat George Bush by just over three percentage points in Minnesota. Heading into that election, there were high hopes among the GOP faithful that it would be the year when Minnesota could finally be counted in the Republican electoral college tally. Looking back now, 2004 looks like the high water mark for the GOP tide. 2006 showed the tenuous nature of whatever inroads Republicans had made with Minnesota voters and I believe we'll see the trend toward blue continue in 2008.
So far, I've come across three arguments on why Minnesota could or should be in play in '08.
1. Pawlenty on the ticket as VP. While Governor Pawlenty is enjoying high approval ratings at the moment, I don't believe that his presence on the ticket would have enough impact to make the difference. No matter what the names are on either side on the presidential slate, I'd guess the Democratic candidate would start out enjoying at least an 8-10% lead in Minnesota. Having Pawlenty as VP could maybe shave four to five points off, but that's it. And the notion that Pawlenty could help bring Iowa and Wisconsin into the bag as well is baseless wishful thinking.
2. The 2008 GOP convention is in the Twin Cities. Again, the gap is far too large for whatever small boost hosting the convention would bring to make any real difference. A non-factor.
3. A Romney candidacy could put Minnesota in play. Done laughing yet? I had to throw that one in to lighten the mood.
The bottom line is that doesn't matter whether Pawlenty is on the ticket as VP, the convention is in the Twin Cities, or Romney is the candidate (hee, hee): Minnesota is going blue in aught eight and nothing the GOP can do is going to change that fact. The eventual Republican candidate would do well to avoid wasting precious time and resources here. Minnesota Republicans should focus their efforts on trying to save Norm Coleman, hold their three House seats, and maybe chip away at the DFL stranglehold in the State House of Representatives. Those are the boundaries that they should be playing within. Anything else should be considered out of bounds.