Polarized Express

A Star Tribune poll released this week shows that almost four in ten Minnesotans are identifying themselves as political Independents, making them the dominant political force in the state. If traditional party activist were marketers, they would look at this target audience trend and choose candidates who “sell” with that key audience of swing voters. Centrists not extremists. Uniting personalities not polarizing personalities.

But the kinds of folks who hold sway on major party nominating processes are far from marketers. They are groupies, ideological purists, altruists, special interests advocates, and/or wannabe kingmakers. As a result, they often choose candidates that are the least marketable come general election time, rather than the most marketable.

That seems to be what’s happening on the left this year. DFL activists are rallying around the two most polarizing candidates in top-of-the-ticket races. The disapproval ratings for front-runners Hillary Clinton (48% unfavorable v. 48% favorable) and Al Franken (34% unfavorable v. 27 favorable) are tops in their respective fields.

Marketers would look at the market research and view Franken and Clinton as poor “products” for the times. But party activists view themselves and their like-minded friends as the target audience, not the growing ranks of Independent voters who will decide general election outcomes this year.

– Loveland