With only days to go before the 2012 General Elections, Minnesota airwaves and mailboxes are filled to overflowing with campaign messages and solicitations.
In one of the most surprising developments, Minnesota has begun to get attention from the Obama and Romney campaigns. Minnesota has not voted for a Republican presidential candidate since 1972 and has been thought to be a safe state for the President. However, some election analysts have shifted Minnesota into a leaning Democratic, rather than a solid Democratic state. The Real Clear Politics average of Presidential preference polls in Minnesota shows President Obama up by 5%. This week former President Clinton and Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan are in the State for campaign events. Both campaigns are spending money on television ads as well, although those ads seem directed at the Western Wisconsin and Northern Iowa markets as much as the Minnesota market.
Senator Amy Klobuchar maintains her strong lead over Republican challenger Representative Kurt Bills. The latest Survey USA poll shows Senator Klobuchar up 60% to 29% and in the final tally she could be well over 60%. Among the Congressional races, the most hotly contested is in the Eighth District where Congressman Chip Cravaack is running for re-election. Cravaack defeated longtime Democratic Congressman Jim Oberstar in 2010. He is being challenged by former Congressman Rick Nolan. The latest Survey USA poll in the Cravaack/Nolan race shows Nolan with a 46% to 45% lead with 9% of the voters undecided. The same poll shows Mitt Romney beating President Obama in the Eighth District by a margin of 47% to 45%.
A surprisingly interesting race has arisen in the Sixth Congressional District where former presidential candidate Michele Bachmann is fighting for re-election. She is being opposed by hotel developer Jim Graves, who is self-funding part of his election effort. A Star Tribune poll released last week showed Bachmann with a 51% to 45% lead over Graves.
Minnesota also has two Constitutional amendments on the ballot. An amendment requiring a photographic identification to vote appears poised to pass with the latest poll showing 55% of Minnesotans supporting that proposal. The second Constitutional amendment would enshrine a ban on same sex marriage in the Minnesota Constitution. The margin of support for this amendment has narrowed and the most recent poll shows it leading by only 48% to 47%. In order to be adopted, a Constitutional amendment must receive a majority of all the votes actually cast in the election.
The entire Minnesota Legislature is up for election in 2012. Republicans currently control both the House and the Senate. Of the two bodies, the Senate is considered more likely to flip to Democratic control although it is possible Republicans will retain control of both bodies. The closeness of several races means final legislative control may not be decided until recounts are concluded.