Here is very good news from Public Policy Polling. In addition to reporting that Obama leads Romney comfortably in the state, 53% to 45%, there is also good news on the two crummy amendments the state GOP wanted to shove down our throats:
The more interesting findings on our final Minnesota poll deal with the state’s high profile amendments to ban gay marriage and require voter identification. We find both narrowly trailing. 45% of voters say they’ll vote for the gay marriage ban, compared to 52% who are opposed to it. And 46% say they’ll support the voter ID amendment to 51% who are opposed.
Not only is the “Voter ID” voter suppression amendment losing (46% to 51%), so is the marriage suppression amendment, 45% to 52%. Since amendments to the state constitution need not just a plurality, but a majority of the votes cast, this bodes well for Tuesday.
Now, the marriage amendment never got much more than 50%, and it’s been below 50% for some time now, so it’s not surprising to see that it’s now in the mid-40s. What surprises the local punditti is that the voter suppression amendment is also losing — it had started out with between 70% and 80% support, so much support that various big local Democratic-affiliated groups didn’t want to waste time and money fighting it. But Sally Jo Sorensen, the best blogger in the State of Minnesota and one of its top five journalists, period, noticed that a lot of county governments were expressing to their local papers their absolute horror at the damage this massive unfunded mandate would do to their already-stressed budgets. We are literally talking about counties having to forego fixing roads or hiring cops because of this amendment.
Over the months, as winter turned to spring and spring to summer, more of these county governments started speaking out about this — and more to the point, they started to compare notes, aided in large part by Sally Jo’s publicizing of the issue (a publicizing I did my small bit to aid), even as both the StarTribune (the Minneapolis paper of record) and the Pioneer Press (the Saint Paul paper of record) largely ignored this. Soon, a critical mass of note-comparing turned into the production of a few studies, studies that confirmed the counties’ worst fears as to the costs and complexities that would be forced upon them by this amendment.
This hit home with the vote suppressors. Even as the Republicans laughed off efforts to condemn the voter suppression amendment as racist — the racist intent would appeal to a lot of Minnesota voters, so the GOP was quite happy to see Democrats talk it up — they didn’t laugh off efforts to enumerate the cost to rural counties. They sent out the attack bozoes at the Center of the American Experiment to create some numbers purporting to show that the amendment wouldn’t cost as much as feared, but Sally Jo’s good friend, Gustavus Adolphus professor and elections expert Max Hailperin, shot down their numbers right quick. Finally, the voter suppressors turned to running TV ads — but by that time the various movers and shakers in Minnesota’s Democratic establishment and allied groups had started running TV ads of their own, ads featuring guys like former Republican governor Arne Carlson and current Democratic governor Mark Dayton.
Again, keep your fingers crossed. And I’m knocking on wood with one hand while I type this with the other. But if what I think will happen does happen, a good chunk of the credit for doing the early, unglamourous spadework will go to my friend Sally Jo Sorensen, who in a just world would be entrusted with the editorship of a big daily paper or the media operations of AFSCME or SEIU or the DFL.