Hey, it’s possible that it’s right. Part of scientific thinking is that technically anything is “possible.” But when you’ve been following elections and polling for quite a while now, it’s OK to apply some experience-based common sense to the proceedings. That’s what I’m looking to do, here.
The polling was actually done by Survey USA, commissioned by KSTP. KSTP’s news is the closest local approximation to what Fox “News” is nationally, and the brand is owned by the extremely conservative and also extremely wealthy Stanley Hubbard.
In a rematch of one of the closest congressional races in the country two years ago, Republican Stewart Mills leads Democratic incumbent Rick Nolan by four points in Minnesota’s 8th District, 45 percent to 41 percent, in our exclusive KSTP/SurveyUSA poll…
However, even a superior get-out-the-vote operation might be more difficult in 2016 because the top of the Democratic ticket, Hillary Clinton, appears to be very unpopular in the 8th District. Our poll shows Republican Donald Trump with a 12-point lead over Clinton, 47 percent to 35 percent. (KSTP)
The Lake Superior-sized red flag is immediately apparent. President Obama won this district in 2012 by 5.5%, and we’re supposed to believe that this time it’s going to go for Trump by 12, at a time when Donald could well be looking at a double-digit landslide loss, nationally. While for all I know such a four-year swing in a congressional district anywhere would not be unprecedented, it is certainly extremely rare and would require extraordinary circumstances.
A far more likely explanation is that you get a number like that by massively overpolling Trump’s base of conservative old people. Which if you look at the polling internals you will see is exactly what they did.
Minnesota’s 8th district isn’t just the Iron Range. But one can make a case that politically blue Duluth is balanced out by the red areas further south along 35, into the north metro, and it’s the Range that makes the call.
Two days ago, Newsweek published an investigation showing that Trump has always favored Chinese steel for his casinos and hotels.
John Rebrovich, United Steelworkers representative from Hibbing, says it was only a matter of time before Trump was exposed as a charlatan.
While Rebrovich’s friends and neighbors may have once found hope in the candidate, Trump has been quietly subverting them all along. News spreads fast in small towns, Rebrovich says. Everywhere he goes now, people are talking about how they feel lied to. (City Pages)
And why not? Both were born to tremendous wealth and privilege, and have hardly impressed accordingly. Neither has paid any sort of officeholding dues that would remotely qualify them for the positions they’re seeking. Both have histories of repulsive public pronouncements about women. Both are really just looking out for #1.
And hopefully both will have their fantasies of political power and widespread admiration utterly and deservedly crushed, in about four and a half weeks.
If you’re old enough, like me, perhaps you remember when the late Rod Grams was a Republican, one-term U.S. Senator from Minnesota. During his time in the Senate Grams attained a certain notoriety for being unprepared for committee meetings and just general cluelessness. When things were looking ugly in his reelection bid in 2000 (his DFL opponent was senator-to-be Mark Dayton, now Minnesota governor), he called on Mom. Dig:
Stewart Mills III currently has an ad featuring his wife. The idea seems to be to project an ultra-wholesome image in order to try to counteract the recent exposure of a pretty damn repugnant social media history. This is not about picking on his family. Just noting that from an electoral perspective the precedent here is not promising.
Grams had one term as a U.S. Representative before becoming a Senator. Prior to that he was a TV news anchor. In other words, he was exactly as qualified, based on experience and knowledge (no paying dues in the state lege, etc.) for a spot in the U.S. Congress at that time as Mills is now.
Don’t freak out if you see polling showing Stewart III ahead. There’s precedent for that not being any too reliable, either.
Update: Here’s video from The Uptake, of what might well be the only Nolan/Mills debate. No major fireworks or blunders, that I’ve seen or heard about.
Two items. This first one does require some context. Rich candidates in both major parties often loan their own campaigns money. Win or lose, they usually do get it back, with interest. But the practice is often seen as an acknowledgment that anticipated funding sources aren’t coming through as hoped.
Federal Election Commission filings for the second quarter show the Mills campaign’s principal committee, Friends of Stewart Mills, took in $794,001 compared to the Nolan for Congress Volunteer Committee’s $428,178. However, Mills loaned his own campaign $500,000, the first time he has loaned the committee money so far this election cycle. Mills also had less than a fourth of Nolan’s cash on hand going into the third quarter, and had spent about five times as much. (Brainerd Dispatch)
This next one gets no softening “context.” If one campaign manager after another isn’t willing to stay aboard…
The campaign of Stewart Mills III recently had John Eloranta take over the helm as manager.
Originally, Charlie Szold was announced as the manager in March for Mills’ GOP campaign to unseat Democrat U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan in Minnesota’s 8th Congressional District. In May, Szold left the Mills campaign to instead manage the re-election campaign of U.S. Rep. David Young, R-Iowa. Szold was replaced by Mike Lukach, who previously served as Mills’ campaign manager during his 2014 bid for the 8th District. (Brainerd Dispatch)
What with the effort at a political image makeover, some may have been left wondering what the “real” Stewart Mills III is all about. This is telling. The article has numerous specific examples.
The Mills Fleet Farm scion, who’s challenging DFL U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan a second time for Minnesota’s Iron Range seat, cranked out his brand of conservative bro-humor on Facebook pretty regularly back before he was running for political office. A review of old posts on social media finds Mills making flippant references to battered women, his own laziness, and the health benefits of women swallowing after oral sex, among other topics most politicians would happily avoid. (City Pages)
So behind all of the contrived crap, what we’re dealing with is a “bro.” No wonder he’s endorsed Donald Trump for president.
Since the narrow loss in 2014, the brains behind the U.S. House campaign of Stewart Mills III seem to have determined that they lost because of two (2) things: the hair, and the spoiled rotten rich kid image.
Regarding the former, I’ve provided “before” and “after” pictures. The story is that the change is the result of a “grilling accident.” It’s true that you’d be hard-pressed to think of a man elected to the U.S. Congress with flowing locks like “before” unless you went all the way back to the antebellum South. But, seriously, this guy somehow burned off his own hair, and we’re supposed to put him in Congress? (“We’re,” because I’m an MN-08 voter, myself, and very much desirous of continuing with the strong, mostly progressive representation of Rep. Rick Nolan (D-MN).)
Re: the latter, it still seems like a valid point indeed, especially since as far as I’ve seen Mills has never so much as been on a city council, much less paid some dues and learned something about governing by doing some time in the Minnesota legislature. Hence, this ad, in which viewers are assured by sincere eyewitnesses that as a child Stewart III in reality worked his fingers to the very bone. If you buy that, you probably buy the one about the grilling accident, and far worse the whole Guardians Of Privilege platform about how what we all really need are more tax breaks and other government handouts for the super-rich…like Mills.
KKR’s scorched earth brand of capitalism is well-documented. The firm starred in the 1989 book Barbarians at the Gate: The Fall of RJR Nabisco. Written by Bryan Burrough and John Helyar of the Wall Street Journal, the book tells the story of KKR’s leveraged buyout of the cookie and cig conglomerate. Under KKR’s shepherding, 46,000 Nabisco employees got pink slips.
It’s a repetitive story. A Pulitzer Prize-winning series of articles in 1990 by Susan Faludi detailed workers’ suffering as the result of KKR’s acquisition of Safeway. Faludi’s expose showed how longtime workers had been discarded in the pursuit of a fatter bottom line. One former grocery store employee was living in a homeless shelter. One committed suicide. Yet another who’d saved the company $1.6 million by inventing a new cooling system had been laid off. In the Dallas area alone, KKR canned 8,600 Safeway employees. (City Pages)
(It wouldn’t surprise me to learn that KKR promised Stewart Mills III to hold off on deep workforce cuts until after the election. Nor, if so, would it surprise me if KKR reneges on that, as soon as they feel like it.)
Incidentally, does anyone still believe the story about Mills’s much more congressional run-friendly hairstyle being the forced result of a “grilling accident?” This guy is as phony as they make ‘em.
Presumably Mills and his backers believe that if he just avoids some of his past missteps he’ll get it done, this time. He already got his hair cut, though it doesn’t make him look any more, well, “congressional,” (cf. the image I used, here). And even by about September of 2014 somebody had apparently got through to him about the need to stop going off-script in public, so that he’d stop saying really foolish things. But I for one, and I do have plenty of company, don’t see him putting up much of a fight in a presidential year.
Some will probably be startled that he will blow more of his own money after whatever his failed run cost him in 2014. I don’t know how much he actually did spend, but I’m pretty sure that, entirely due to the circumstances of his birth, his (mostly unearned) income since has far exceeded it.
He may be thinking that even if he fails again here, he’s keeping his name out there for a possible gubernatorial run (or for U.S. Senate, if Amy Klobuchar retires) in 2018. But as far as governor goes, the MN GOP is beyond desperate, and I strongly suspect that the poobahs want the decks kept clear for House Speaker (until January 2017, probably) Rep. Kurt Daudt (R-Crown).
Stewart Mills III is Minnesota’s George W. (or, for that matter, Jeb) Bush. Both intellectually and psychologically an ultimate product of pampered privilege, he has absolutely no comprehension of what existence in this world is really like for the vast, vast majority of its human inhabitants. And therefore he couldn’t be more wrong for elective office.
I stopped going out on Saturday nights some years ago, and for part of this past one I listened to a modern interpretation of Tye’s Western Wind Mass. (I like Renaissance-era sacred music for the way the voices work together, and its evocative, reverie-inducing qualities.) Before each of the four segments I had to endure a fifteen-second blast about how Rep. Rick Nolan (D-MN) wants to close Guantanamo Bay and thereby unleash “the mastermind of 9/11” (which was in fact allowed to happen in the first place because of the base, criminal incompetence of the profoundly conservative, Republican Bush administration) on the innocent American public. Which is ridiculous, and if GOP “strategists” had any sense, or self-respect, they’d do better. But they don’t.
So the National Republican Congressional Committee clearly very much wants a legitimate candidate. Will it be Stewart Mills III, again? He’s not sure, yet. From August 28:
“We do have a magnificent America, we do have a country we can be proud of,” Mills added. “But we need to make sure we have leadership in Washington D.C. that is going to keep America great. That is going to stand up for our value systems, not just here domestically, but also abroad.”
In his remarks Thursday, Mills added he has not decided on whether he will run for office again in the 2016 election.
“I’m not exactly sure what the next election cycle holds for me,” Mills said. “But we do, in whatever capacity, have to stand up for our magnificent America.” (Bemidji Pioneer)
I have no problem with Mills embarking on a second career as a “perennial candidate.” He got beat in 2014; far more likely than not he’ll get walloped, this time around. But I’m sure there are those who figure that it was all about the hair, and a habit early in his last campaign of making unfiltered and embarrassing pronouncements, and if he just fixes those, voila! And the GOP bench is so thin in MN-08 that if Mills says no they may be forced to hang out in lively redneck taverns in places like Eveleth and Keewatin to try to find somebody, anybody, willing to run as a Republican.
(Regarding the pictures, when I first saw a photo of Stewart shorn, that’s what I thought of. Simple as that. The one of Mills is from his Facebook page.)
I grant that it was close. Uncomfortably – indeed, distressingly – so, though the (entirely legitimate) presence of a Green Party candidate was partly the reason for that. Distressing that so many are still politically foolish and gullible enough to have fallen for Stewart Mills III’s repugnant, failed plutocratic drivel. Turnout was 68.5% of registered voters (not of all eligible voters) in this race, compared to 63% for governor (those numbers are based on registered voter totals on the linked pages, and don’t include at-the-polls signups). So, not awful, but far from great, by Minnesota standards. (Update: It turns out that total turnout was awful, at 50.31% of eligible voters statewide. Which partly explains the closeness of this race, too.)
I’m obviously very relieved that we won’t have to put up with Minnesota’s corporate media deifying Mills as the Unstoppable Future of the Republican Party. And you know that they were pumped with eagerness, to do that. Probably not the reporters themselves, for the most part, but those who tell them what to write.
Contrary to what some concern trolls claimed, taking particular note of Mills’s unearned privilege worked. Probably made the difference. Well, that, and The Hair. I saw somewhere that Nolan has the most progressive voting record overall of any Democrat who faced a really tough challenge. I’m not sure about that – I haven’t seen the data, myself – but it’s likely at least close to accurate, and makes his win something to feel all that much better about.
This seat probably won’t have to be worried about much in 2016, even if Rep. Nolan hands it off, but the longer term remains to be seen. Tuesday’s result, given the overall climate, shows that the district is blue, but not dark blue. (And that any candidate who is perceived as not red-hot enough for sulfide mining is not automatically doomed. I’ll write more about that. A lot of people will.) Demographic movement (as in greater diversity and better-educated) will push things left, but that’s a slow process.