Al Franken at the 2012 DFL State Convention
by Tony Petrangelo
Nov 3, 2013, 10:00 AM

Al Franken still in catbird seat

This is the second post dealing with the new Public Policy Polling poll of the Minnesota electoral landscape for 2014. The first post dealt with the Gubernatorial portion of the poll, this post will deal with the Senatorial portion of the poll.

To wit:

PPP (10/27-29, 5/17-19 in parenthesis, 1/18-20 in brackets):

Do you approve or disapprove of Senator Al Franken’s job performance?
Approve 51 (51) [52]
Disapprove 43 (42) [41]
Not sure 6 (7) [7]
(MoE: ±3.3%)

Al Franken’s numbers have been remarkably stable. Stability that is a bit reminiscent of Amy Klobuchar’s numbers in the year prior to her re-election year. Franken’s numbers are not as high as A-Klo’s were (she had a 61% approval number against a 28% disapproval number at about a year out), but they don’t have to be as Klobuchar went on to win by an absurd margin by Minnesota standards for statewide elections.

All Al Franken needs to do is maintain his current job approval numbers and he’ll win by a not absurd margin.

Now for the people who will try and chip away at said job approval numbers, the Republican candidates for US Senate:

PPP (10/27-29, 5/17-19 in parenthesis):

Do you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of…
Jim Abeler?
Favorable 8
Unfavorable 15
Not sure 77

Chris Dahlberg?
Favorable 7
Unfavorable 14
Not sure 79

Mike McFadden?
Favorable 6 (4)
Unfavorable 15 (10)
Not sure 79 (85)

Julianne Ortman?
Favorable 7 (4)
Unfavorable 17 (15)
Not sure 75 (80)

Monti Moreno?
Favorable 3
Unfavorable 14
Not sure 83
(MoE: ±5.7%)

As we saw with the group of Republicans running for Governor, no one knows who any of these people are. Julianne Ortman is the best known of the bunch, and 75% of respondents have no opinion of her. We have an incumbent in Al Franken that is well liked, and a group of Republican challengers that no one knows. What happens when they get matched-up?

PPP (10/27-29, 5/17-19 in parenthesis):

If the candidates for Governor next year were Democrat Mark Dayton and Republican [candidate name], who would you vote for?

Al Franken 50
Jim Abeler 39
Not sure 11

Al Franken 49
Chris Dahlberg 39
Not sure 12

Al Franken 49 (51)
Mike McFadden 38 (36)
Not sure 13 (13)

Al Franken 49 (52)
Julianne Ortman 37 (35)
Not sure 14 (14)

Al Franken 49
Monti Moreno 36
Not sure 15
(MoE: ±3.3%)

The answer is they all get trounced.

It’s rather amazing how different this race is turning out than how I suspect most Republicans expected it to turn out after Al Franken’s narrow 2008 victory. A seat that seemed destined to be one of the GOPs top targets in 2014 has instead become an afterthought, with a handful of second tier challengers and national groups all but ignoring the race.

Cook Political currently has this seat rated as Likely Democrat. What does it mean when they classify as race as “Likely.”

These seats are not considered competitive at this point but have the potential to become engaged.

Which essentially means that, as Cook sees it, there is really no credible challenge to Senator Al Franken at the moment. A credible challenge could emerge, meaning, one of these candidates could prove to be viable, but this poll doesn’t indicate that is happening.

Because PPP asked the question I’ll reproduce the results below, but beware, they’re ugly.

PPP (10/27-29, no trend lines):

Given the choices of Jim Abeler, Chris Dahlberg, Mike McFadden, Julianne Ortman, and Monti Moreno, who would you most like to
see as the Republican candidate for Senate next year?

Jim Abeler 12
Chris Dahlberg 10
Mike McFadden 11
Julianne Ortman 12
Monti Moreno 2
Not sure 53
(MoE: ±5.7%)

Other than the fact that Monti Moreno probably has no chance (which we all sort of knew already), these numbers don’t tell us anything. There is no front-runner, mainly because no one knows who any of these people are yet. The race is still at the raising money, wooing activists and puffing up your resume stage. The wider public has not yet been subjected to the push for name recognition that will proceed a party endorsement and precede a contested primary, if there is one.

Thanks for your feedback. If we like what you have to say, it may appear in a future post of reader reactions.