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April 16, 2004
LA Times: Hunting Snipe In Minnesota?

The Los Angeles Times goes far afield this morning in order to capture a bit of voter angst towards George Bush and the war in Iraq:

For both parties, Minnesota is rich with potential; its voters are among the most independent-minded in the country. They list no political party when they register to vote.

Nationally, they are known for sending Democrats to the U.S. Senate, among them Hubert H. Humphrey, Eugene McCarthy, Walter F. Mondale and Paul Wellstone. But they stunned the country by electing wrestler Jesse Ventura, a Reform Party candidate, as governor in 1998.

They also lean regularly toward Republicans, choosing Richard Nixon (three times), Gerald Ford (once) and Ronald Reagan (twice) for president. In 2002, they elected Republicans Tim Pawlenty and Norm Coleman to replace Ventura and Wellstone, respectively, and the GOP picked up seats in the state Legislature.

The LA Times engages in some transparent sophistry in this article. First, the article is filled with almost nothing except anecdotal evidence; the only exception is a poll that is three weeks old and conducted by the Star Tribune, notorious for polling discrepancies (as is the LA Times). Second, the last Republican presidential candidate that Minnesota endorsed was Ronald Reagan, and it wasn't twice -- Walter Mondale took Minnesota (his home state) in 1984. Even Dukakis carried Minnesota, for Pete's sake. Since when is it news when Minnesotans lean Democratic?

Besides, as much as Bush would like to carry Minnesota, he really only needs to carry the same states he did in 2000 to win the election the next time around. John Kerry needs to convert states that Gore lost in 2000 if he hopes to win this year. I could understand if the Times had decided to focus on Bush's support in a battleground state like Florida or even Tennessee, but even though I live here, Minnesota will hardly be the front line of the election, at least for Bush.

Why the LA Times decided to go 2,000 miles to talk to a few Bush-bashers is beyond me. Why an "analysis" like this poorly thought out article got published is, unfortunately, completely understandable.

UPDATE: Heck, the Times was more wrong than I thought -- Minnesota went Democrat in 1980 and 1976 as well. (Hat tip: Jon Fellows)

UPDATE: I get results -- after sending an e-mail to the reader rep for the LA Times, I got an e-mail acknowledgement of the error and a correction in today's paper.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at April 16, 2004 6:55 AM

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