Thursday, February 16, 2012

Cognitive Dissonance and the State of the State


The DFL governor, who just last week called Republican leaders "too extreme to lead," asked them to pass his bonding bill, vote on a Minnesota Vikings football stadium and vacate the State Capitol for several years to accomplish a major overhaul of the aging structure.

The DFL governor in this case is Mark Dayton, of course, and he was giving his "State of the State" message, which was, as are many things in Dayton's world, filled with, ahem, cognitive dissonance.

In a refreshingly candid dispatch in the Star Tribune, Rachel Stassen-Berger had the temerity to point out something that seem to have been forgotten lately:

The speech was in sharp contrast with his address last year, when Dayton praised the "constructive relationships" he and Republicans had, calling it "unthinkable" that the state would face a shutdown over partisan differences. 
Of course, there is this:

Since his first State of the State speech, he has survived a historic government shutdown and has seen his poll numbers soar while voter ratings of the Legislature have tanked.

There's a reason for this. Actually, a couple of reasons. There's no question that Republicans shot themselves in the foot with the Amy Koch issue, but what's been best for Dayton is that he's largely been out of the public eye in recent months. Back when the shutdown happened, people seemed to understand that Dayton, at a minimum, shared responsibility with the lege for the shutdown. But since then, the focus has been somewhere other than Dayton's job performance.

Meanwhile, Sen. Dave Thompson figured it out:

"I found it to be a cry for bipartisanship, while at the same time taking shots at Republicans," said Sen. Dave Thompson, R-Lakeville. "I don't know that that's helpful."
There's actually a lot of cognitive dissonance going around these days. Public opinion polls have been very good for Dayton, while at the same time showing broad support for a number of measures (Voter I.D., Right to Work) that he's been blocking with his veto pen. As this session rolls on, people will be reminded of who Mark Dayton is. And it wouldn't be surprising if some perceptions start to change.

1 comment:

First Ringer said...

I feel like Yogi Berra - "it's deja vu all over again."

Dayton's polling peaks and valleys aren't actually different than Pawlenty's. Both polled at or above 50% when the legislature was out of session and both saw their numbers drop when the political season returned.

Considering both won with percentages in the low to mid 40s, I have to assume that Minnesotans in general want to like their governor - no matter who he is or what he stands for.