Good study on the (in)effectiveness of expensive political ads!

Big spending campaigns are just enriching the media, voter contact and turning out the base accomplishes more: Click here to read.


MN CD7 Outreach Officers Report, November 2017

CD7 Outreach Officers Report, November 2017:

Pipelines going nowhere and good jobs needed: Our state Commerce Department has found no need for Elmbridge’s proposed “Line 3” new pipeline. None the less Embridge is still pushing this billion dollar boondoggle and has even gotten the support of a few DFL legislators from the Range. They cite the need for living wage jobs, which emphasizes why we need to be the party that comes up with solutions that are wins for the environment and workers. While the simplistic republicans can’t chew gum and walk at the same time, we can find policy solutions that work for disparete and supposedly incompatible groups. So let’s be respectful of other democrat’s positions and work toward solutions that work for all of us. That’s how we win and govern- Our minorities in the legislature and congress are blocking regressive republican laws and preserving Obamacare and other programs with party unity while Trump and the republicans fight amongst themselves and waste their majorities.

Winter weather meeting cancellation policy, a modest suggestion: If the National Weather Service has issued a Winter Weather Warning or similar for the location of a party meeting or event, the event should automatically be rescheduled for another date. No need to wonder if anyone will be there and get lost in blizzards just in case the event is on.

Engineering a victory: Strategy for the 2018 “off year” elections

When planning strategy we tend to get all emotional about issues and candidates. But elections are won by the candidate and party that gets the most votes, and we thus need to let the numbers guide our strategy. I’d like to use the stats for our whole congressional district but we’ve only had one off year election since redistricting and I’d like to have data from more elections. So I’ve taken data from 2006 through 2016 elections from our 3rd most populous county, Kandiyohi, which is fairly representative of the congressional district. Here’s the election results:

Year GOP votes DFL votes Swing voters Total votes 18+ population

2006 6000- 9248 7423- 11488 4622 19054 30223 (2000)

2008 6709-11319 8007-14493 7269 21985

2010 7458- 8835 6751- 8484 3338 17447 32082 (2010)
2012 6990-11240 9805-13033 4751 21546 32078 (2012)

2014 7117- 8349 6709- 9000 3024 16802 32269 (2014)

2016 10313-13099 7266-10872 4459 21970 32343 (2015)

By now you’ve read the numbers crosswise, but to see the trends best you have to read the numbers top to bottom. The lowest vote for a party’s candidate is a good measure of the party base, and the GOP base has been around 6000 to 7500 voters, rising to over 10000 only in 2016. The DFL base has been around 6700 to 7500 in off year elections, rising to nearly 10000 in 2012. “Swing” voters cross over between parties, and about 7200 of them voted in the 2008 presidential election year, dropping to less than 4500 in the hotly contested 2016 race. In off year races the swing voters have dropped from around 4600 in 2006 to barely 3000 in 2016. Total vote in off years has dropped from around 19000 to a bit under 17000, while the voting eligible population has been stable at around 32000.

Time for some analysis… Finding a “win number” like they teach at Camp Wellstone, we find that 9000 votes would have won Kandiyohi County in 2010 or 2014, what with voter turnout barely besting 50%. So we need to find at least 2300 voters to add to our off year base of 6700 or so to win. CD7 has a reputation for swing voters and I like a persuasion strategy that emphasizes them, but we’ve lost a third of them somewhere since 2006. To find those 2300 votes to get us to our 9000 vote “win number”, we’d have to win around three quarters of those swing voters- the GOP is pretty dislikable and we’re good persuaders, but not that good… So swing voter persuasion alone probably won’t win for us in 2018.

The other strategy is a labor intensive “base GOTV” strategy. Nearly 10,000 DFL base voters turned out in Kandiyohi County in 2012, which would easily push our candidates to victory. I’ve done the same analysis in Lyon County and Nobles County in CD1 with similar results- poor off year election turnout and declining numbers of swing voters are pushing us to a “base” strategy. Just finding those over 3000 “drop out democrats” in Kandiyohi County and over 60,000 CD wide will be a challenge, plus all the new DFL voters who aren’t even in our databases yet. Would help if the state DFL would share their data, but the latest they’ve given us was for the 2014 cycle. In the meantime, I’ve got some hunches on how we can use public data to find DFL voters, more on that later…

Respectfully submitted, Dyna Sluyter


Is the Democratic Party a waste of time for rural democrats?

Lovely weekend here in southwest Minnesota, and lotta things to do. There’s the big weekend party down at Baxter Cycle in Marne, Iowa- They’ve the typical earthy small town cycle shop that’s hosted both the old and now reborn Triumph motorcycles. Or within a hundred miles of home I’ve got my choice of two great old tractor shows at Montevideo or Butterfield. But noting that our democrats were doing a parade the next county over, I stayed home and headed over to do the parade with them today.

Got to the parade start and found we weren’t even entered. Didn’t see any of our local democrats at the parade start, so I checked the party booth at the county fair cross town… Booth was nicely set up, but nobody there. Not surprising, in this county of around 10,000 we’re down to a handful of democratic party regulars. County on the other side of mine is doing even worse, barely seen them since the party conventions last year. Couple weeks back I got asked if I could work a shift at the county fair booth 60 miles away, and the congressional district chair ended up driving over 100 miles there to cover a shift. This in one of Minnesota’s most diverse counties where the Democratic Party should have a year round office and full time organizers, but they won’t because it’s rural.

No surprise that democrats are leaving the Democratic Party here in rural Minnesota, thanks to decreasing support from our state Democratic Party. We got a couple staffers in tiny campaign offices for the 2010 election, and even less in every election since. The Minnesota Democratic Party is a ten million dollar plus operation during election years, but most of those millions are wasted “running up the score” in urban counties to eek out a narrow victory for Hillary while we’ve lost first the state house and now the senate too. Officially they’re the “Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party”, but most of the farmers long ago gave up on them, and labor is increasingly following suit. They’re a mini-DNC, lead by pretty much the same people that gave us last year’s defeats.

So no surprise that no democrat has been elected to the legislature from southwest Minnesota since the 2012 redistricting. And no surprise either that the party’s ranks are thinning- My county’s chair quit and dozens of losing democratic candidates in rural Minnesota permanently shut down their campaigns after the Democratic Party produced their 2016 electoral disaster. And democratic candidates aren’t going to win out here in rural Minnesota and America until the Democratic Party invests here like they have in the big cities.

Having blown half this weekend, the Democratic Party has my next weekend booked too. Saturday’s meeting is at least nearby with my fellow rural MN 7th CD democrats. But sunday I’ve been summoned 180 miles distant to MN Democratic Party HQ for an Outreach Officers meeting and  “Inquisition”, can’t give any more details lest I become the second “guest of honor”. Wouldn’t mind if I had nothin’ else to do, but that’s the weekend I get together with a bunch of my motorcycling friends from Florida while they’re on their annual trip home to rural Illinois.

Maybe I’ll feel better if I see some Co-op tractors at the show tomorrow, or maybe I’ll finally come to my senses, forget the Democratic Party for a while, and ride to Illinois next weekend…


Rural Strategies to Fight Global Warming

First, lose the ‘lectrik cars and solar panel status symbols…

Why? Urban solutions are often inappropriate for rural environments, just like a 600 horsepower tractor is overkill for mowing a small city lot… Heck, will a 600 horsepower tractor even fit in a small city lot? Electric cars make sense for short urban trips, but when you need to haul a literal ton of feed, seed, or tractor parts a hundred miles you need more kilowatt hours than even the biggest Tesla battery can supply. As for solar, we got more and cheaper renewable energy from wind- rooftop home solar costs around $3/watt and produces around 20% of the time, megawatt class wind turbines cost $1.50 to $2/watt and produce power around 40% of the time. Nothin’ wrong with solar and over hundred meter tall wind turbines are kinda impossible to site in the city, but out here we got the space for wind, giving twice the renewable energy for half the price of solar.

Ok, so we got wind that kicks solar’s butt and kicks coal right outa the market, but how do we cut greenhouse gasses without electric cars? Unless we’re able to recharge an electric car entirely with renewable energy, in reality we’re reducing carbon use and greenhouse gas production rather than eliminating such pollution entirely. So how do we do that in a rural environment? For a start we don’t buy new electric cars, maybe not even hybrids, ’cause massive amounts of greenhouse gasses are produced just to make a new car or whatever. Rural folks are resourceful, given how unprofitable farming has been we’ve had to be- So fixing stuff forever is a big part of our skill set, Thus instead of tearing down an old house to build a new totally passive energy powered new home, we’ll rehab the old home with recycled materials, lotsa insulation, and heat it with a stove that burns renewable biomass fuels. In the same manner, we can rebuild an old truck to run on renewable fuels and reduce greenhouse gases more than a dozen hybrids. We can reduce farming energy inputs and greenhouse gas outputs by reduced and even no tillage and use waste energy from one process to power another like my dairy farmer friend does. Still want ‘lectricks? We got railroads, they already emit only a fourth of the greenhouse gases trucks do, and using fixed tracks, they’re easily electrified!

Not only can rural folks reduce greenhouse gases, but our rural environment can suck ’em up to- It’s called sequestration, and while it doesn’t seem to work for coal plants, it works on our farms and forests. We are just beginning to research the potential of bio sequestration, but we know that healthy soil, grasses, and even corn headed to the ethanol plant suck up greenhouse gasses. That’s why the National Farmer’s Union and even Congressman Colin Peterson are promoting cover crops to keep rural america green year round and protect the soil while sequestering greenhouse gasses and reducing fertilizer use.

In conclusion, pushing solar status symbols that cost more than we make in a year and electric cars that cost more than our house fail at best and provoke backlash at worst in rural america. Taking advantage of rural assets like our conservation ethic, rebuilding skills, vast spaces, and biomass assets will motivate rural folks to do their part and then some to stop global warming.




Lying (to ourselves) with statistics: “PVI” and the “DFL Index”…

If you’ve been hacking about politics long, no doubt you’ve heard about the “Index” of a district. On the federal level, the “Cook Political Report” has been cranking these out for years, essentially averaging out the presidential vote by party for the past couple elections, as explained here. Minnesota’s Democratic Farmer-Labor (DFL) party does something similar, but tries to keep it’s recipe secret just because they’ve added a few herbs and spices like the vote for statewide offices in the district. For those of us that don’t have access to the party’s innermost secrets like the “DFL Index”, Tony Petrangelo has produced a pretty damn good substitute here.

So the Cook PVI tells me that my congressional district, Minnesota’s 7th, is a hopeless R12, predicting that a republican should defeat a democrat by a 62% to 38% margin.  My legislative district, 22A, rates an R+8 by Tony’s calculations, but he hasn’t updated after the disastrous 2016 elections. Sounds like I should throw away my campaign stuff and find a new hobby!

But apparently several DFL candidates didn’t get the memo on how hopeless MN CD7 was and ran anyways… Like Congressman Colin Peterson who has held the seat for two decades now. Or Senator Amy Klobuchar, who won with 61% of the vote in 2012, or Senator Al Franken and Attorney General Lori Swanson who squeaked out victories in 2014 in CD7 despite the democratic debacle around them. What the…?

The problem is that we’re melting down a rich data set of election results into an average “Index” that tells us almost nothing. In so doing we let one candidate who dragged down the whole ticket label a district hopeless for democrats, despite strong evidence to the contrary. And following the DNC and DFL’s mythology that the voters fall into vast camps on the left and right and victory goes to the party who best gets their camp to the polls, we ignore the nearly as large camp of “swing voters” who usually decide elections in MN CD7 and other rural districts.

So let’s look at the real numbers:

MN CD7 has about 509 thousand folks 18 and older, per the Census 2015 estimates. There’s only around 20 thousand foreign born adults in the district, and many of them are now citizens. There are around 40 thousand felons barred from voting in Minnesota, but most of them reside in the metro districts… So we have around 500 thousand voters in MN CD7. In the three elections since redistricting, the base GOP vote was sounded by Torry Westrum at around 110 thousand, barely lowing the bar below Kurt Bills 112 thousand tally of the GOP loyalists. On the DFL side Hillary Clinton lowered the bar defining the DFL base to 105 thousand. So the GOP and DFL bases are each barely 20% of the voters… Damn, gonna have to redefine the whole field operation!

DFL, meet the swing voter… In 2012 69 thousand voters cast a vote for Romney, then crossed over to give Klobuchar a total of over 200 thousand votes. The GOP district wide slate was weak in 2014, but 5 thousand voters gave the GOP U.S. Senate candidate their vote, then crossed over and voted for DFLer Peterson.  In 2016 208 thousand voters gambled on Trump, then 51 thousand crossed over to hedge their votes on DFLer Peterson. So truth be told, up to 71 thousand voters, a slice of the electorate almost as big as the DFL and GOP bases, are deciding the elections in CD7.

About now some grizzled DFL field organizer interjects “But turnout still wins elections”. But turning out a DFL voter only wins us one vote, swing a swing voter to the DFL and they count twice, because you’ve denied the GOP a vote. But the “base strategy” is half right… Of those 500 thousand or so eligible to vote, only 334 thousand bothered in 2012, 242 thousand in 2014, and 338 thousand in 2016. Yup, there are over 160 thousand votes up for grabs in MN CD7, even more in a non presidential election year, and other that we know who didn’t vote, we have no idea who or what would get them to vote!

DFL and DNC, delete that failed “Index” software off your computers. Just to be safe, crush the hard drive, then throw it in an acid bath then irradiate it just to be sure! We need to quit trying to distill the rich landscape of voting data points into simplistic indexes and instead use these mountains of data to pick which candidates and strategies will win over swing voters and non voters to our party. Our DFL candidates are more than the party’s “index”, and no longer should Hillary’s dragging the “index” down be used as an unscientific excuse to deny them the state and national party’s support!



(found this unpublipublished story while “cleaning out the closets” of the blog, the issue is still timely…) Problem Pipelines: Time to Call Out the Democrats (Again)…

You’d think the democratic parties of the Dakotas, Minnesota, and all the downriver states where native americans frequently provide the margin of victory in elections would be all over this, but Noooo. Let the shaming begin…