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Tarryl Clark is not making any friends right now
by Tony Petrangelo
Aug 10, 2012, 4:30 PM

Tarryl Clark goes on the Attack

If you haven’t seen it yet, here is the ad that Tarryl Clark is running against Rick Nolan.

The basic premise of the ad is that Rick Nolan, while head of the Minnesota World Trade Center, took lavish taxpayer funded vacations and huge taxpayer funded pay raises. And he did nothing for the middle class, also with taxpayer money.

Rick Nolan held a press conference yesterday to respond to the ad:

It’s disappointing you know to have someone who moves into the district, comes in with outside money and starts denigrating the accomplishments of our governor, Rudy Perpich, and all those who served him, myself included. We’re very proud of what we were able to accomplish at the World Trade Center and make no apologies for it.

The fact that Tarryl would release this ad, with less than a week to go before the election is a give away that she’s behind Nolan in her internal campaign polling. This is the only reason her campaign would release such an ad.

For some confirmation, we can look at her campaign finance reports for polling expenses.

Tarryl Clark Polling Expenses

Clark’s campaign has conducted at least two polls so far this year, and one of them only a month ago.

The Clark campaign released a polling memo for that first poll, which immediately caused some people to cry foul about push polling and such. I don’t really want to get into that here, but let’s just say you don’t spend almost $30,000 for someone to conduct a push poll, that would just be ridiculous.

It’s the second poll though that we’re interested in now. While the campaign expenditure was listed as July 10th, this is probably not when the poll was conducted. Her previous polling expense was listed as April 2nd, while the date on the polling memo is March 15th.

If you figure another two week lag between the campaign receiving the poll and then cutting a check, the actual polling date for the later poll was probably around the end of June.

But I doubt that was the poll that precipitated these attack ads. Her campaign likely commissioned a third poll, sometime around the end of July. We’ll know for sure when the next round of filings are due, so for now it’s all speculation.

Let’s just continue down this speculation rabbit hole though, since we’ve started. While her campaigns most recent polling likely shows her behind Nolan, I’m skeptical that it’s by a large margin.

If she was down by ten or more points I don’t know that these ads would do anything other than poison the well for any future political ambitions she may have. But a more manageable deficit, say five points or less, gives her more of an incentive to go on the attack.

The reasoning is this, if you’re likely to lose anyway, why start swinging away at the probable nominee? All you’re going to do is anger Democrats in a lost cause. If though, you feel like you have a chance to actually win, like you’re down by five points or less, than this course of action becomes more appealing.

As I said though, this is all just speculation. It could be that they are in fact behind big and with money to burn figured screw it, let’s go on the warpath. The other scenario is that Clark is in fact leading, and is just trying to solidify her position.

But the downside outweighs the upside in both of those scenarios. The only one that makes sense to me is that Clark is down, but she’s within striking distance.

Rick Nolan’s expense report, for the sake of context, shows no signs of paying for any polling that I can see.

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