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SWLRT: Spring 2017 Update

by JeffStrate on May 15, 2017 · 0 comments


The new edition of Democratic Visions features an update on the funding status of Southwest Light Rail (SWLRT) from local sources and the Federal Transportation Administration. It’s complicated, but Met Council Member and public transit champion Jennifer Munt makes it understandable. Munt represents Met Council Dist. 3 which includes west metro cities in the Lake Minnetonka area including Eden Prairie and Minnetonka through which the Green Line extension and its passenger stations will be built.


I here share a few thoughts of my own. The snippy cult of opponents to the Southwest Light Rail project, based along what had been a freight rail line and switching yard between Cedar Lake and Lake of the Isles (Minneapolis), with its nuisance environmental law suit continues to generate copy for MinnPost and the StarTribune. The NIMBYs, some of whom are, reportedly, influential Democrats, are encouraged by Republican legislators including House Speaker Kurt Daudt, Senate President Michelle Fischbach, and transportation committee chairs Paul Torkelson, Linda Runbeck and Scott Newman. For their own purposes, these GOPers have deceitfully re-branded SWLRT into a wedge issue about the cost of light rail, funding priorities and urban/rural inequity. Their shenanigans have generated even more copy at MinnPost and The Strib whose news and editorial sections love to show renderings of various plans of the new bridge that will cross the channel between Lake of the Isles and Cedar Lake.  It’s as if Southwest Light Rail has no other importance.  Here’s one of those renderings.

One of several design plans that have been considered or the light rail transit bridge in the Kenilworth Corridor.

One of several design plans that have been considered for the light rail transit bridge in the Kenilworth Corridor.

Would that the photo editors at the StarTribune and MinnPost select other SWLRT images.  There are scores of them: stations, bridges, parking ramps and landscaping plans along the alignment through Minneapolis, St. Louis Park, Hopkins, Minnetonka and Eden Prairie. Believe it or not, the Green Line Extension beyond the Kenilworth Corridor actually edges North Minneapolis and penetrates job rich centers in the south west ‘burbs.  But maybe selecting images from a Met Council or city website on a desktop or laptop is really, really difficult, maybe even exhausting.  But maybe not.   I found these pics earlier today in about 15 minutes.



Former KQ Morning Show reality check and sports guru Mike Gelfand takes a cynic’s aim at the new Viking Stadium on the current edition of Democratic Visions. The Crystal Cathedral like monument to men who play football and their corporate patrons and politicians (who play games with public wisdom, dollars and common sense) is a major irritant to Audubon Society types who view it as a wall of death for birds. Our feathered friends, they correctly claim, will crash into the stadium’s glass sheeting and die.


During the course of his comment, Gelfand reminds us that during the construction of the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in 1981 (recently deflated and leveled to make way for the new stadium), KSTP-TV’s news magazine Sunday Extra featured “The Dome Report” updates. These were parodies of, highly hyped, local TV investigative units such as WCCO-TV’s The I-Team, KSTP’s own On Your Behalf with Neil Murray and ABC’s Nightline with Ted Koppel.


“The Dome Reports” were fronted by KUOM Radio personality John Barnier. Steve Sanger and I produced them. StarTribune illustrator and cartoonist L.K. Hanson is featured in one the spoofs that Gelfand here encores for the first time since 1981.


One of our goals on Democratic Visions is to inject humor, parody and satire back into the political life of Minnesota. Local political correctness commandos, gossipy Tweeters, Facebook fakers and smart phone pundits currently get far more attention than their Jr. High outbursts and trends merit. When it comes to smart  punditry and satire on Minnesota broadcast TV and radio, we are left starving. So, here’s Gelfand. Gelfand is Yiddish for “elephant.”



Eden Prairie, Richfield, Minnetonka, Edina and Hopkins Comcast Channel 15 – Sundays 9 p.m., Mondays 10 p.m., Wednesdays 5:30 p.m., Saturdays 2 p.m.

Bloomington – BCAT Channel 16 — Tuesdays at 2:00 p.m. & 10:00 p.m.; Fridays at 9:30 p.m.; Saturdays at 7:30 a.m. & 2:30 p.m.

Minneapolis – MTN Channel 16 — Sundays at 8:30 p.m., Mondays 3:30 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m.  Program is streamed at the MTN website during cablecasts.

Champlin, Anoka,Ramsey, Andover – QCTV Channel 15 — Fridays 8 a.m.,Saturdays 6:00 a.m., 10,30 a.m.,10:30 p.m.


Segments and full half hours of Democratic Visions are archived on YouTube –   www.youtube.com/user/DemocraticVisions/



Image Hosted by ImageShack.usThe StarTribune spent last week and weekend doing a slow release of information from their Minnesota Poll, with some of the numbers providing a bit of a surprise. Let’s dive right in starting in chronological order of when the Strib released the individual numbers.

StarTribune (PSRA) (5/9, no trend lines):

“Do you think Native American tribes should continue to have exclusive rights to operate casino gambling facilities in Minnesota, or do you think gambling should be opened up to others?”

Should be opened up to others 72
Tribes should have exclusive rights 23
Don’t know/refused 5

“If the gambling is expanded, which one of the following would you most prefer? The choices are:”

Allowing video slot machines at Canterbury Park and Running Aces racetracks 20
A casino in downtown Minneapolis 12
A casino at the mall of America 8
Allowing video slot machines in bars and restaurants 8
Would you prefer to see gambling expanded in all of these areas? 37
None/oppose all (volunteered) 11
Don’t know/refused 4
(MoE: ±4.7%)

The fact that 72% of respondents don’t like the tribal exclusive on gambling might be the least surprising result of the entire poll. There is some genuine opposition to gambling expansion, but not all of that opposition is from the tribal rights point of view so when the expansion question is framed this way it’s not surprising to see results like this.

The follow-up though confirms that there is not insignificant support for an overall expansion of gambling, a plurality, 37% want to see gambling opened up in all areas. You can probably think of the Downtown Casino and Mall of America Casino answers as supporting essentially the same idea, so that group is about 20% and another 20% for the Racino’s.

Feel free to add the 37% who support all forms of gambling expansion to both the Twin Cities Casino or the Racino’s support numbers to come up with well over 50% in favor of both proposals with only 11% firmly against any expansion.

This should be a no-brainer for the legislature, but considering the blow-up happening in the GOP over gambling right now, who knows what will come of it.
StarTribune (PSRA) (5/10, 10/2010 in parenthesis):

“Do you think the Minnesota Vikings need a new stadium or should they continue using the Metrodome in Minneapolis?”

New stadium 34 (27)
Use Metrodome 62 (66)
Don’t know/refused 4 (7)

“Would you favor or oppose using public money for a new Vikings stadium?”

Favor 22
Oppose 74
Don’t know/refused 4

“How important is it to you that the Vikings stay in Minnesota?”

Very/somewhat important 66
Not too/not at all important 33
Don’t know/refused 1

“Do you think the Twins’ new baseball stadium at Target Field has been worth the public expense or not?”

Yes, it has 55 (48)
No, it has not 31 (40)
Don’t know/refused 15 (12)
(MoE: ±4.7%)

These are fun numbers. Minnesotan’s don’t think that the Vikings need a new stadium, are absolutely opposed to any public money being spent on a stadium, yet think it’s important that the Vikings stay in Minnesota. Not only that, they now think it was a great idea to build the Twins stadium.

This just lets the legislature know that it can go ahead with a stadium deal and the public will probably come around to liking it in the end.

StarTribune (PSRA) (5/12, no trend lines):

“Please tell me if you would favor or oppose requiring Minnesota voters to show a photo ID in order to vote.”

Favor 80
Oppose 18
Don’t know/refused 2
(MoE: ±4.7%)

These are terrifying numbers, I don’t really know what else to say. Democrats are the strongest opposition group and they’re only at 33% opposed, while the GOP is completely unified on this issue. The upside, this question wording is the best case scenario for the GOP though as it’s not a question about a constitutional amendment, which is the route this would have to go.

One would hope that there would be more trepidation to actually amending the state constitution to include this provision then there is support for the concept in general. In reality the amendment will have to actually appear on the ballot and get a majority of support, so there is still hope that the GOP can screw it up.

StarTribune (PSRA) (5/13, no trend lines):

“Please tell me if you would favor or oppose amending the Minnesota constitution to ban same-sex marriage.”

Favor 39
Oppose 55
Don’t know/refused 7
(MoE: ±4.7%)

Unlike the photo id question, this one specifically asks about support for actually amending the state constitution and the results show the uphill battle that the marriage discrimination amendment faces.

To be approved an amendment needs to receive majority support, but not the majority of the people who vote on the amendment, a majority of all voters. This means that someone not voting on the amendment question at all is as good as a no vote.

StarTribune (PSRA) (5/15, no trend lines):

“Do you approve or disapprove of the way Mark Dayton is handling his job as governor?”

Approve 54
Disapprove 20
Don’t know/refused 26
(MoE: ±4.7%)

+34 is pretty good and when I say pretty good what I mean is really really good. The support cuts across all demographic categories as well, the only group he’s underwater with are Republicans who don’t really hate him at 32/38/30. He’s over 60% with all respondents 45 and up and only under 50% with a couple groups and it’s not that those groups don’t like him, they just register more in the Don’t know/refused column.

It will be interesting to see how he weathers the upcoming budget storm, but with numbers like these, it seems likely that many people will be or already have taken his side in that debate.

[Note: It seems the Minnesota Poll had a snafu with the wording of it’s original budget question, this is from the methodology page]:

Results for the question about the best approach to solving the budget deficit — primarily through service reductions or through a combination of tax hikes and spending cuts — are based on interviews with 548 of the 806 respondents. The question was reasked in follow-up calls to all respondents because of a problem in the original wording of the question, and 548 of the respondents were reached. Results of a poll based on 548 interviews will vary by no more than 5.7 percentage points, plus or minus, from the overall population 95 times out of 100.

StarTribune (PSRA) (5/15, no trend lines):

“Do you think the state’s 5 billion budget deficit should be balanced primarily through a reduction in services or through a combination of tax increases and service reductions?”

Primarily service reductions 27
Tax increases and service reductions 63
Don’t know/refused 10
(MoE: ±5.7%)

This goes a long way to support the idea that Minnesotan’s will back Gov. Dayton during the coming budget showdown and that he should stand firm on his desire for a balanced approach to solving the problem.

The big question here is what to do with numbers that were not gathered as part of the original survey and were asked to a more limited pool of respondents as much as a week after the beginning of the initial survey.

Because the margin is so large we can be pretty confident of our conclusions, but I am treating this data as though it came from an entirely different poll, because in a way, it did.

[Note: The rest of the budget questions and results are from the initial survey.]

StarTribune (PSRA) (5/15, no trend lines):

“As I read you some state spending cuts being considered to fix the budget deficit, please tell me which one would be most acceptable to you. The choices are…”

Reducing spending on mass transit 48
Reducing aid to colleges and universities 15
Reducing aid to cities and counties 13
Reducing health care assistance for lower income people, the elderly and disabled 8
None of these are acceptable (volunteered) 13
Don’t know/refused 3

“If the state decides to raise additional revenue to balance the budget, which one of the following would be most acceptable to you? The choices are…”

Raising Minnesota income taxes for high earners 39
Raising taxes on liquor and cigarettes 37
Increasing user fees for some government services 12
Increasing the sales tax 7
None of these are acceptable (volunteered) 5
Don’t know/refused 1

“Do you think the effort in some states to limit collective bargaining by public employees is more about…”

Weakening unions 47
Controlling government costs 39
Don’t know/refused 14
(MoE: ±4.7%)

Here we see that a plurality of Minnesotan’s support increasing taxes on the state highest earners as a way of bringing in more revenue, with raising taxes on liquor and cigarettes coming in a close second. It’s no surprise that sin taxes are popular, but they wouldn’t really do a whole lot to help with the budget and raising the sales tax doesn’t have a whole lot of support.

That results of the last question are nice to see, a plurality of Minnesotan’s are fully aware of what the GOP’s real reason is for trying to limit collective bargaining by public employees.

What are your thoughts on these numbers? Share them in the comments below.


Who’s polling The Minnesota Governors race

by TonyAngelo on October 6, 2010 · 5 comments

Only four pollsters; Rasmussen, SurveyUSA, Princeton Survey Research Associates (PSRA) and Humphrey Institute, have polled the Minnesota Governors race this year and with under a month left before the election it’s unlikely that many more will jump in. In 2006 these same four pollsters (StarTribune had in-house polling in 2006, now they contract with PSRA) were joined by Mason-Dixon, St. Cloud St. and Polimetrix, so it’s possible that one of them or someone else entirely will drop a poll on us but for now we’re just going to look at who’s been polling it so far.

A few notes on terms and formatting first.

PIE is Pollster Induced Error, a metric developed by Nate Silver, it’s a measure of how much error, above average, a pollster contributes based on an analysis of past polls.

Past election results are listed as follows:
Race Polled: Last polling result (Actual results) Margin Difference
The margin difference is the polling margin minus the actual margin.
When looking at the past election results one thing to keep in mind is that no one got the 2006 Governor’s race correct, there was not a single poll that showed Tim Pawlenty ahead of Mike Hatch in the last month of the election. Out of the nine polls done in the last month only one showed a tie, the rest showed a Hatch lead of between 1 and 9 points.

Doing a simple average of all the polls in the last month gives us a result of 45.5 Hatch, 42.5 Pawlenty, which is very close to Hatch’s final numbers but missed Pawlenty’s by about 4 points. This is likely due to late breaking events that were particular to that race and that caused undecideds to break for Pawlenty in the last week, whereas in a normal race you would expect a more equitable distribution of the undecided vote.

In the other two races listed, the 2006 and 2008 Senate contests, a simple polling average provides a very good indicator of the final results, showing the 2006 Senate race at 55-37 (actual 58-38) and the 2008 Senate race at 39-39 (actual 42-42).

PIE: 1.74
Minnesota polling history:
2006 Gov: 47D/45R (46D/47R) 3D
2006 Sen: 54D/40R (58D/38R) 6R
2008 Sen: 39D/43R (42D/42R) 4R

Rasmussen, run by Scott Rasmussen, is by far the most prolific public pollster in the business today. This is no doubt due to how they conduct their polls; in a one night only, automated blitz fashion. Whereas most pollsters will conduct a poll over the course of a few days, Rasmussen usually just does one night, because of this if someone isn’t home they don’t call back, they just move on to the next number. They also don’t try to randomize who they talk to, instead being content just talking to whoever answers the phone. Additionally Rasmussen has a reputation as being a Republican leaning pollster, yet despite all of this they are rated as above average according to Nate’s analysis.

Client: KSTP-TV
PIE: 1.19
Minnesota polling history:
2006 Gov: 45D/45R (46D/47R) 1D
2006 Sen: 56D/40R (58D/38R) 4R
2008 Sen: 39D/44R (42D/42R) 5R

SurveyUSA is run by Jay Leve and is one of the larger pollsters in the country. Like Rasmussen they are an automated pollster, although they don’t employ the blitz approach that Rasmussen does. They were the subject of a post of mine earlier in the week and have had sometimes sketchy results this cycle, at least compared to other pollsters, although they have a good history of accuracy sporting the best PIE of the four. They are not really considered to be a Republican or Democratic leaning pollster although their numbers have skewed to the GOP this cycle.

Princeton Survey Research Associates (PSRA)
Client: StarTribune
PIE: 1.81
Minnesota polling history:
2008 Sen: 42D/38R (42D/42R) 4D

In 1989 Andrew Kohut, along with some of his colleagues, left Gallup to found PSRA. Kohut is now the head of Pew Research, but PSRA is still around and is now run by Larry Hugick. Unlike Rasmussen and SUSA, PSRA is not an automated pollster, they are an old fashioned live operator pollster. PSRA took over polling duties for the StarTribune after the 2006 election.

Humphrey Institute
Client: MPR
PIE: 3.15
Minnesota past history:
2006 Gov: 45D/39R (46D/47R) 7D
2006 Sen: 55D/33R (58D/38R) 2D
2008 Sen: 41D/37R (42D/42R) 4D

Larry Jacobs is in charge of the public opinion polling done by The Humphrey Institute and like PSRA they do live operator polling. However, they have the worst PIE score of the four pollsters and as pointed out in numerous other posts by myself and others, they always have partisan id numbers that make you scratch your head.


Strib Gets New Publisher

by Dan Burns on January 8, 2010 · 1 comment

The Star Tribune has selected a new publisher, Michael Klingensmith.  Read all about him here.

My issues with this are actually pretty focused.  Will the op-ed section move away from the dreary establishment hackdom of Will/Krauthammer/Brooks/Kristol/&c./&c.?  Will the paper dump Katherine Kersten, thereby ceasing to display unmitigated contempt for its readers’ standards every time it prints her pitiable drivel?  Will it seek to somehow mitigate the Associated Press’s increasingly flagrant rightward lean?  Will it start to tell the truth about Pawlenty, Kline, Paulsen, (especially) Bachmann, and/or the TBagger loonies in general?

In short, will it try to become a publication that politically engaged, thoughtful, knowledgeable people will respect again?  Remains to be seen.

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