The Franken Coleman Race: What will happen, why, and what you need to do

The last part ... what you need to do ... mainly applies to Minnesota residents. We'll get to that.

Right now the polls are all over the place. There are five new and recent polls to consider (data all sourced through RCP).

Public Policy Polling, covering October 28th to October 30th, with a margin of error of 3.0 percent, shows Franken with 45% of the vote and Coleman with 40. That is rather astounding.

Research 2000 has a poll covering October 27 to October 29, with a margin of Error of 4%, and in this case Franken has 40 percent and Coleman 43. A statistical dead heat.

A Mason Dixon poll covering Octrober 27th and 28th showed Coleman way ahead with 42 percent, compared to Franken's 35 percent, with a 4% margin of error.

A poll conducted on the 28th by Rasmussen Reports shows Coleman with 43 percent and Franken with 39 percent. Again, that poll had a 4% margin of error.

Finally, the Minnesota Public Radio / HHH Center poll conducted from October 24th to October 28th, with a margin of error of 4%, shows Franken with 41% and Coleman wiht 37%.

How do we interpret this?

I think the two main candidates in this race are essentially even, with a fair degree of fluctuation owing, in my opinion, to which TV commercials were most recently viewed by the undecided voters. There are also differences in likely voter models being used in these polls.

But lets say that you could wave a magic wand and shift two percentage points from one candidate to the other ... obviously, from Coleman to Franken. Would you do that? Would you?

Of course you would.

Well, I did that today, believe it or not. And you can do it as well, if you ACT NOW. it is not as hard as it sounds.

Today, I joined up with a guy named Matt, who is an intern working with the Democratic Party, to canvass about 100 likely Democratic voters. We drove to their neighborhood, and tracked them down to have a little talk. We spoke to only a percentage of them, but with good results.

These were all individuals identified, through a lot of prior legwork done by Matt and many others, as likely Democratic voters. But what this really came down to is this: Everybody identified on this list, if they were to vote, would vote for Barack Obama, not necessarily for Senate Candidate Al Franken, or the US Congressional candidate this area, Ashwin Madia.

By the way, we have much less polling data for Madia, who is running against one of the smarmiest Republicans I've ever come across, who is using (together with the RNCCC) the worst possible techniques in a downright dirty campaign. The situation is the same, though: Madia and his opponent are absolutely neck and neck.

So, Matt and I tried to visit about 100 people who were likely to vote for Obama, if they voted at all, and who might or might not vote for Franken or Madia. We accomplished the following:

1) We assured that some people who might not vote will actually go do so. One person I spoke with planned on voting on-line. She learned today from me that this is not possible, and she learned where her polling place is. I'm pretty sure that between Matt and me, together with the other people who will hit the same neighborhood (but visiting the houses where no one was home for us) over the next few days, we have increased the percentage of Obama-supporting Democrats who will actually vote by one or two percent. 30,000 other people are doing the same thing at the same time today, and more will do this Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. We are getting out the vote.

2) A few people that I spoke with were not entirely sure who Ashwin Madia is. This is not surprising. All the other candidates people are talking about have run for office before or are otherwise well known. Ashwin Madia has not run for office before. So, Matt and I each feel that we helped pick up a couple of Madia votes among these likely Dem voters. Maybe, just maybe, we have pushed Ash Madia's numbers over into the winning column, because we are getting out the vote, and persuading just a little, mainly through informing people.

3) ... and this is the most important part at the national level ... We talked some people into voting for Franken. Matt and I are each pretty sure that we talked about two or three people into voting for Franken. That makes four to six in total. That's a few percent, yes?

I'll tell you about my two people.

One is a woman recently immigrated from a small country in Africa. It helped a lot that I'd been to Africa (though not to her country); We could play around a little with language, swap a couple of eye-rolls and comments regarding this or that African leader, issue, etc. She was not planning to vote for Franken, but was an Obama supporter. I explained important details she did not know, and we discussed the need for a gridlock-free filibusterer-proof Senate, and so on. She is now on board with the Obama-Franken-Madia strategy. The gentlemen who was busy installing tiles in her bathroom, who joined in on the conversation, may have also switched his strategy so I might have gotten a two-fer.

The other case is less ambiguous and somewhat more entertaining. This was Joe the Cop. Pretty much a conservative to middle of the road DFL sympathizer who often votes Republican. He was a strong Obama supporter. Both he and I had worked for McGovern years ago, so we swapped a few stories about that . Finally, I asked him about Franken.

"No way, man. No way am I voting for that guy."

As I asked him why not, I was assuming I would get the usual references to the lies Norm Coleman has been spreading about Al in his horrific dishonest ads. But no, that was not the reason.

"I went to school with Franken. What a jerk he was back in grade school."

Well, OK, I could understand that. In my view, if you're going to be an asshole to people in grade school (and it is not my place to evaluate or judge this particular relationship, of course) then you better be prepared to have people not vote for you fifty years later. That's the price you pay. So, I moved on from Franken and we talked about Madia for a while.

Then we cycled back to Obama, and the need for change. And the Republicans ruining it for everyone. And the idea that one Republican can ruin it for everyone with a filibuster in the Senate any time. And how we have to have a 60 count majority in the Senate. And how if Franken does not win we will not get that.

"So, you're going to bite the bullet and vote for your old classmate Al?"

"Yea," Joe said, "... I guess I have to, don't I. Oh well."

Here's the thing: If Matt and I swayed four voters out of 100, we got four percent for Franken. Obviously, these people may sway back or others may change their minds in the other direction. But I can tell you this: We spent hours walking around in this neighborhood, and there were no Republicans doing this there .. or, I suspect, anywhere to the extent that the DFL was. I think Minnesota and a few other states are going to have a last minute pro-Dem surge of at least a couple of points, pushing some of these statistically even races to our side.


Get off your butt and get out there and spend a couple of hours on the phone, or door to door, or whatever, making a difference.

Matt and I made one little neighborhood in Brooklyn Park Minnesota go from ambiguous to pro-Franken in just a few hours time. And got some exercise to boot! You can make this kind of contribution as well.

See you on the street...


More like this

Don't you mean we would want to shift points from Coleman to Franken? (Or is there some weird Freudian slip in your typo?)

Those of you who do the door-to-door are my heroes. I hope y'all got the materials all right. Last night's distribution crew was seriously sleep deprived.

I've only worked my way up to calls this year, although I do keep steady, quiet pressure on friends and family by talking about why I support the people I do. I know of just one person I persuaded to Franken and Madia this year, but it was a very proud moment.