|A true margin of error|
Gov. Mark Dayton heads into re-election with the highest job approval rating of his term, according to a new Star Tribune Minnesota Poll.A few thoughts:
The poll found that 58 percent of Minnesotans think Dayton is doing a good job as governor, with 29 percent saying they disapprove. Those numbers come after the governor orchestrated an income tax increase on the wealthy and after the troubled rollout of the state’s health care exchange that opponents hoped would diminish his popularity.
“Given that it’s been a challenging couple of months with MNsure and the light-rail line and the like, I think it shows people are looking at the big picture of how the state is doing overall,” Dayton said. “I’m certainly gratified by these numbers, but there’s a lot more work ahead. I think Minnesota has made excellent progress in jobs and education but we have a lot more to do in those and other areas as well.”
|You throw out your gold teeth|
- I do have to wonder if some of the candidates running for governor now wish they'd taken a shot at Al Franken instead. Franken may have the money, but his popularity is nowhere near as high as Dayton's. And frankly, the current slate of GOP contenders for Franken's perch is highly unimpressive. If I were Jeff Johnson or Dave Thompson or Marty Seifert, I'd have to be second-guessing myself just a little right now. Any one of these three gentlemen would be a significant improvement over the likely GOP nominee, Mike McFadden, who has more incisors than principles, at least based on the available evidence. I understand the theory behind having an independently wealthy candidate running against Franken, but the GOP will never be able to outspend Al. I'd much rather have had a principled, articulate opponent who could throw Franken's sophistry back in his face.
- Best of all, whoever wins the gubernatorial primary gets to face Alida Messinger and her Alliance for a Better Minnesota goon squad. I sincerely hope that none of the GOP hopefuls has ever had more than a busted taillight on their driving record, because if they have, we'll hear about it with mournful string music and high dudgeon.
- The local economy has done fairly well in the past three years. There are big flashing warning signs ahead, but for now, things are going well. Dayton will get credit for that. The thing about raising taxes on the rich is this -- they will respond, but they will respond slowly. The reason most people who get rich stay rich is because they think through the implications of what they are doing. We'll know the effects of these 2013 tax increases in 2015 and 2016. And the beauty part for the DFL is that, if somehow a Republican candidate wins, he'll get blamed for the downturn, because it's axiomatic that nothing a Democrat does is his (or her) fault, or at least so it is reported. After all, what difference does it make?
- Having said that, it's not over. At this point, the MNsure debacle is only affecting a small number of people. Once the employer mandate takes effect in the fall, the numbers could change substantially. The Obama administration has done its best to push the effects of the mandate past November, but it will be difficult to do that this year. If you start to see a lot of upheaval in the insurance market right before the election, things could swing the other way.
- Finally, the legislative session will be interesting; there are a lot of people who want to spend, spend, spend, and if they get out of hand it could become problematic for Dayton. However, there will be a solution. Look for Dayton to pass a symbolic but meaningless veto on something that the DFL lege sends his way, all to burnish his reputation for parsimony and watchdog-itude. Or something. We love our kabuki.