Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN-6) ran a boisterous campaign for president last year, but after losing the Republican nomination she retreated to her House district to quietly run for re-election … and barely won. Against first-time Democratic candidate Jim Graves, a local Twin Cities area businessman, Bachmann only captured a scant 50.5 percent majority to secure a fourth term in the House.
Often times a US Representative reaching for a higher office, particularly president, and failing in the quest, leads to a less than stellar re-election performance. Such was the case for Rep. Bachmann. A new Public Policy Polling flash survey (May 15; 500 registered MN-6 voters) suggests that the congresswoman’s political troubles are not over.
According to the PPP results, Graves, who previously announced that he will seek a re-match, has jumped out to an early 47-45 percent lead. This, in a district that 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney carried 56-41 percent. The 6th CD is the strongest Republican district in Minnesota, which is typically a reliable blue state. Romney carried only two of the state’s eight congressional districts.
Not surprisingly, since this poll shows Bachmann trailing in a partisan district that should be strongly in the Republican column, her personal favorability index is upside down. Forty-four percent have a positive opinion of Bachmann, while 51 percent expressed holding negative feelings toward her. Graves recorded a 39:33 percent favorable to unfavorable score, which isn’t particularly good either.
The sampling universe for this particular flash poll appears sound. Of those questioned, 39 percent self-identified as Republican; 29 percent as Democrats; while 32 percent called themselves Independent. In terms of ideology, 43 percent consider themselves to be strongly or somewhat conservative as compared to 23 percent who say they are strongly or somewhat liberal. Thirty-three percent self-described as “moderate.” All of these figures accurately represent the district’s political complexion.
With a year and a half remaining before the election, Bachmann has plenty of time to improve her image and return to a better electoral track. And, if the national climate leans Republican going into the next vote, something that usually occurs against a president in the middle of his second term, then that too will help the congresswoman.
Expect Bachmann to continue playing less of a role in national affairs, at least from a leadership standpoint, as she concentrates on re-building her local political apparatus. It is clear the Democrats would relish the opportunity of defeating her, so we can expect a very expensive campaign here next year in the outer Minneapolis suburbs.
The MN-6 congressional race is yet one more to watch as we will see if the 16-seat Republican majority margin holds through the next election.