Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Always Available, Never Memorable

It's become something of a joke among local media watchers to note that at times it seems like every story about Minnesota politics features an obligatory quote from the University of Minnesota's Larry Jacobs. Jacobs has not only worked his way into the rolodex of legions of local and national media types, he's always there when they call for a comment. You would think that for the amount of attention he receives, he must have some very important things to say about the Minnesota political scene.

The latest and greatest Jacobs utterance that I came across was in an article in Monday's WSJ on the impact of Dean Barkley on the Minnesota Senate Race (sub req):

Mr. Barkley draws voters from both parties, but many observers see his candidacy as more threatening to Mr. Franken, who has struggled to consolidate Democratic support. "He is competing with Franken for the angry voter who disapproves of Bush and sees the country as off on the wrong track," pollster Larry Jacobs, a professor at the University of Minnesota, said after early polling.

After reading, it I realized that in all the years and in all of the hundreds of times that Larry Jacobs has opined on a Minnesota political matter in the media, never once has he said something that I've found particularly insightful or thought provoking. Seriously, for all the pub this guy gets you would think he was the Michael Barone of Minnesota politics. But time after time, all he comes up with is obvious observations that almost anyone who pays any attention at all to the state's political environment could easily make. There's nothing original about his thoughts and he doesn't offer up the kind of key demographic tidbits that real uber wonks have at the tips of their fingers.

If you really wanted the inside scoop on the US Senate race in Minnesota or how the contest in the 3rd CD might play out, you'd be much better off bending the ear of Michael Barone than Larry Jacobs. All politics may be local, but that doesn't mean the best observers of the scene are.

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