Minnesota Primary Proves Value of Strategic Investing

Independent Expenditure committee aligned with Democrats helped knock off popular former Governor in GOP Primary

Minnesota held its Primary Elections on August 14, where there was a big upset for the Republican field. But the big story from the Primary might just be the impact of smart, targeted investments from outside spending groups aligned with Democrats.

The big news in the Governor’s race was Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson's upset win over former two-term Governor Tim Pawlenty for the Republican slot on the ballot in November. This is Johnson’s second run – he lost to Mark Dayton in 2014 – and we was not expected to beat the popular and well-known Pawlenty. Johnson's upset victory should give Democrat Tim Walz a much easier path to winning the General Election.

Election results via The New York Times

Pawlenty had problems appealing to voters aligned with President Trump's rabid base, but he was also seriously wounded by the work of a Democratic-aligned Independent Expenditure (IE) coalition that launched an early data-driven strategic campaign -- including digital and television advertising -- targeted against the former Governor. This Democratic-aligned IE spent 3-4 times as much as any other campaign or IE effort during the last eight weeks of the pre-primary timeframe.

Smart, strategic political investments are the backbone for Congressional and Legislative victories in November. Top-of-the-ticket races drive turnout, especially among low-propensity voters, which is how the Governor's impacts every level of the ballot. Minnesota's ballot hasn't been this crowded in 40 years.

Walz still needs help to get across the finish line in November, and IE spending will again prove critical for several reasons:

  • Walz has signed a campaign pledge limiting his ability to raise and spend money directly. Outside groups can raise and spend as much as possible and need to carry the load for a variety of activities and messages in all parts of the state.
  • There are still a group of voters a who prefer to be active in an election through issue-based groups and advocacy organizations. It takes consistent funding to keep these voters engaged and to design effective programs and activities to get them out to the polls in November. This is especially true of young voters and communities of color, which are key to winning in 2018.
  • The exit of Pawlenty has dropped the competitive “ranking” of the race among national groups. As a result, previously-earmarked funding is being pulled into other states. Minnesota voters still need to hear about Walz and other Democratic candidates to ensure victory in November.

Go to Blue Impact Network's Minnesota State page and invest in winning strategies for November.

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