Is Michele Bachmann vulnerable?
There is no Independence Party candidate in the sixth congressional district race this year, that means for the first time Michele Bachmann will have to face just one opponent and that mean’s she’s vulnerable.
That’s the popular theory at least, but does it hold water?
First, let’s take a look back into Michele Bachmann’s electoral history and see what effect IP candidates have actually had on the sixth district race.
It’s tempting to look at the above chart simply conclude that absent an IP candidate Michele Bachmann would have faced much tougher races and probably would have lost in 2008. That may be true, but there’s really no way to know.
One knock against that theory is that fact that the DFL’s share of the vote in the sixth district appears to have a ceiling of around 43%. The hope of course is that without an Independence party candidate in the race many of those votes will migrate to the DFL column.
In 2006 and 2010 Michele Bachmann got more then 50%, so even if every single IP vote went to the DFL candidate Bachmann would have won. In 2008 however she only got 46% and the IP candidate got 10%. So if there was no IP candidate that year, would Bachmann have won?
El Tinklenberg would have had to win 65% of the votes that went for the IP candidate, Bob Anderson, in order to have prevailed in 2008. While that’s not out of the realm of possibility, it doesn’t strike me as likely.
The last public poll of the sixth congressional district race in 2008 was courtesy of SurveyUSA and pegged the final numbers pretty close, 46-45-6 Bachmann-Tinklenberg-Anderson. In that survey the partisan leanings of the respondants who said they were supporting Independance party candidate Bob Anderson broke down as 6D/5R/10I.
That works out to roughly 25% Democrats, 25% Republicans and 50% Independents. Let’s assume than that 25% of the Anderson vote will definitely go to Bachmann and 25% will definitely go to Tinklenberg, leaving the remaining 50% of independents.
Those remaining independents would have had to give 80% of their votes to El Tinklenberg for him to have been victorious. That certainly doesn’t strike me as a realistic scenario. The fact of the matter is that despite all of her deficiencies as a candidate, Michele Bachmann is in a very favorable district.
What deficiencies as a candidate?
Here’s another chart, this one showing how well Bachmann performed in the sixth district compared to the Republican top of the ticket in that year (these numbers are all two-party vote percentages):
What you can see from the above numbers is that Michele Bachmann is an electoral liability. The only reason she hasn’t already lost her seat is because she represents the most Republican district in the entire state and so has a tremendous amount of margin for error.
In 2006, when she was first elected she under-performed a popular incumbent Governor by less than six points. In 2010, she under-performed an unpopular state legislator by less than four points. I don’t know if you can call that progress.
This year could very well be the perfect storm of circumstances that finally washes Michele Bachmann out of office. She is starting her campaign in debt from her failed Presidential run. That Presidential run has found her behind the eight ball in the money column and may have also angered some of her softer supporters.
But it’s not entirely clear that the absence of an Independence Party candidate makes her more vulnerable, and even if it does, it’s by a rather marginal amount.
The simple reality is that regardless of all of Michele Bachmann’s faults, she still represents the most Republican district in the state, so beating her will be no easy task.
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