16 thoughts on “Dayton’s Moment

  1. Dennis Lang says:

    Okay–full disclosure, I’m hoplessly naive, but that sounds so sincere and personally revealing I not only buy it I’m genuinely moved–an actual human being behind the rhetoric. The “disarming effect”, turning the attack of an adversary into a virtue? (I wonder though with depressive illness so common and widely treated if the stigma–was it Thomas Eagleton?–is a thing of the distant past.)

  2. Joe Loveland says:

    The societal stigma is definitely still there. But if you are perceived to be hiding or inadequately explaining the condition, voters can easily jump to the conclusion that the condition is more debilitating than it is…particularly at a time when millions of dollars worth of discomforting ads are hyperbolically calling you “erratic.”

    Dayton did publicly disclose his condition very forthrightly in late 2009, but a) it was a long time ago, and people do forget; b) it was at a time when very few swing voters were paying attention; and c) it was before millions of dollars worth of ads were placed calling Dayton’s mental stability into question.

    1. Dennis Lang says:

      Alarming numbers cited in the “Guardian” article. Lincoln and Churchill notwithstanding, is the known history of depressive illness sufficient cause for an employer to pass on an otherwise worthy applicant–certainly one aspiring to a significant leadership role?

      1. Joe Loveland says:

        My ill-informed opinion: If it’s untreated and debilitating, yes. If it’s treated and under control, no.

  3. I disagree. Once you capitulate to the slime, and the attempt to divert the election to personal issues, the attacker wins. Dayton should stay positive and above the smears of the Republicans. What he needs are a few surrogates to smack down this crap.

    1. Joe Loveland says:

      Rob, I sure hear a lot of people who believe that Dayton was a failure as a Senator and is off kilter. A charge unrebutted is a charge believed. Lots of moderate Democrats I know believe those two things right now.

      And I’m just not convinced any surrogate can convince voters about something as personal as mental health. On an issue that individually based, Dayton has to look voters in the eye, speak from the heart and prove to them that he’s on top of things.

      1. I doubt that all those seniors who Dayton helped over the years are worried about those things. You are not a typical person – you are a plugged in Twin Cities media type. Once you engage the smears where do you stop? The slimy Republicans will be attempting to tar him for the entire campaign.

      2. Joe Loveland says:

        You rebut on the attacks that have stuck and are hurting you with your target audience. Ongoing research tells you which issues fall into that category, and I admittedly am relying on gut and anecdotes, and not research. You may be as well.

      3. Joe Loveland says:

        Dayton won 49% of the vote in a 2000 statewide race. He seems stuck at 34% in a 2010 statewide race. So, about a third of his 2000 vote has defected, so far.

        What changed between 2000-2010 is that there has been a relentless drumbeat of publicity about 1) Dayton getting lousy reviews of his Senate performance and 2) speculation about whether Dayton’s has adequately treated his alcoholism and depression so he can be a reliable leader.

        If someone can come up with more plausible reasons for why a third of Dayton’s 2000 vote is no longer with him, I’m open to hearing them. But if those are in fact the anchors pulling Dayton down, he needs to somehow address them.

      4. That poll showing Dayton at 34 percent had a huge undecided share. Once people tune in and see what the candidates stand for it is possible, even likely, that those voters will come home to Dayton.

    2. Dennis Lang says:

      I’m presuming Dayton’s track record in the Senate did suck–and he does suffer from depression. So, ignoring the elemental truth of the allegations and the attack would be disingenuous wouldn’t it? Probably a lousy analogy but when Letterman, about to be smeared, turned the allegation on its head, he effectively diffused a potential public perception mess–and may even have won some sympathies.

      1. Joe Loveland says:

        What I’m talking about is trying to turn these charges on their heads as well.

        Talking about how glad you are to escape the Senate = mavericky flipping off of Washington (hardly an unpopular gesture at the moment)

        Dissing do-nothing Congress = showing you’re action oriented and MN-grounded

        Criticizing self = uncommon honesty, not politics-as-usual puffery

        Discussing the subject calmly and rationally = showing in person that the “erratic” charges are way overblown

        Doing public education about how common depression is among very successful people = normalize what opponents are trying to paint as “bizarre”

        Disclosing openly and thoroughly = nothing to hide or be embarassed about

        People didn’t fall in love with the ideology of Jesse Ventura and Paul Wellstone. They fell in love with the fact that those guys were unvarnished, off-beat, straight shooters, even when you didn’t agree with them. That sells in MN, and Dayton might have a shot at selling that, if he can break free of the political consultants’ formulaic approach.

  4. Newt says:

    Mark Dayton IS odd, erratic and, frankly, creepy. I don’t think he is well served by revealing more about himself.

    Still, his greater problem is his platform. That’s what he really needs to hide from the public.

    1. Joe Loveland says:

      Re: “(Dayton’s) greater problem is his platform.”

      The data tell a very different story, Newt. A 2009 Star Tribune Minnesota Poll asked Minnesotans how they want to reduce the deficit. The most popular approach was the one advocated by Dayton (and Horner, who advocates a more balanced than Dayton), “a combination of tax increases and spending reductions” (50% support).

      And which tax do Minnesotans support? Two-thirds (67%) of Minnesotans supported “income tax increases only for upper income taxpayers,” which is the centerpiece of Dayton’s policy platform.

      Given that, I’m not sure we can conclude that Dayton’s platform is the anchor sinking him.

      1. Newt says:

        The Minnesota Poll has one of the worst track records in the business.

        That aside, we don’t see any Minnesotans sending in voluntary payments to resolve the state deficit. And those that favor tax increases, favor it for the “other guy” (big surprise).

        Regardless, I want Dayton and Horner to keep pushing tax increases. It’s very helpful to Emmer’s cause.

    2. Joe Loveland says:

      P.S. That same poll shows that Mr. Horner’s alcohol tax increase (70% support) and tobacco tax increase (69% support) are acceptable to large numbers of Minnesotans, but “extending sales tax to clothing” (35% support) is a much tougher sell.

      Mr. Emmer’s approach of reducing the shortfall entirely with spending reductions is supported by 40% of Minnesotans, which is ten points lower than a balance of tax increases and spending reductions. However, Mr. Emmer’s recommended approach does have more traction with the folks he needs to win in a competitive three-way race (Republicans: 61% support. Independents: 43% support).

      The problem for Mr. Emmer is that support drops off dramatically as soon as you start talking about SPECIFIC spending reductions. Very few support cuts in “courts, jails, public safety” (only 33% support), K-12 education (22% support), higher education (only 38% support), and health care assistance for lower income people/elderly (only 22% support). The only place a majority of Minnesotans is willing to cut is “state aid to city and county governments” (51% support). (If they had listed specific city and county services to be cut — fire, police, roads, parks, public health, etc. — instead of saying “governments,” I suspect support would be significantly lower.)

      It’s easy to see why Mr. Emmer has been so reluctant to get specific about his spending cuts.

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