A Method to Michele Bachmann’s Census Madness

Jul 06 2009 Published by under Featured News

It seems that there might actually be a method to Rep. Michele Bachmann’s Census fear mongering madness. Since Bachmann derives most of her reelection campaign funds from outside of her district, and she is struggling to raise cash, could it be that Bachmann is using Census paranoia to refill her campaign coffers for her reelection bid in 2010?

After the 2010 Census, all 50 states will potentially undergo some kind of redistricting, not only redesigning congressional districts, but also the voting districts for state legislative bodies. Minnesota is one of a number of states that may lose a representative in Congress, with a correlating loss in the Electoral College for the 2012 national elections. If that loss occurs, Minnesota will have seven representatives instead of eight. Prior to 1960 Minnesota had nine representatives. This is not a happy trend for Minnesota.

Michele Bachmann represents Minnesota’s 6th Congressional district, historically a center for redistricting conflict. Every redistricting since 1950 in Minnesota has resulted in a court challenge, the post-1990 Census court challenge went all the way to the U. S. Supreme Court for resolution, and the post-2000 Census court challenge went all the way to the Minnesota Supreme Court.

Michele Bachmann ran for the Minnesota Senate in 2000 from state district 56; in 2002 when she ran for the Minnesota Senate, she was in the newly drawn state district 52. Here is a link to a map showing Minnesota’s 6th district, which is rather oddly shaped at best; Bachmann lives along the extreme easternmost edge of the district, in Stillwater, Minnesota. www.govtrack.us/congress/findyourreps.xpd?state=MN&district=6

Most of Bachmann’s fundraising comes from outside her district. After her embarrassing comments on MSNBC’s Hardball in 2008, her funding from the national GOP dried up, while the contributions to her Democratic opposition exploded.

Here is Bachmann on Hardball in October 2008:

According to Open Secrets, Bachmann was able to raise $3,494,045, but after her Hardball appearance she had to spend $3,565,248 just to keep her seat. Bachmann’s largest donor was the GOP itself which dumped $247,450 into her campaign. So far, things are looking even worse for Bachmann in 2010, as she has only been able to raise $322,885.

It looks like the GOP will have to come to her rescue again next year.
Michael Steele and the RNC are using the Census and ACORN fears to fund raise. The Minnesota GOP is also using Census / ACORN fear mongering to fund raise. Bachmann’s Census / Acorn position, in that context, can be seen as not a genuine concern on her part, but a move to curry favor and climb back on the GOP money wagon.

Earlier in her political career, while a state senator, the Republican caucus put Bachmann in a leadership position, and then some eight months later removed her from leadership, apparently for her extreme views. Her support within the party at the state level has a history of being divided at best. Those who do support her do so enthusiastically. Enthusiasm is important in raising money, but it doesn’t replace the all-important numbers when it comes to votes. A change in district boundaries would change who is Bachmann’s competition, potentially making it more difficult if not impossible to get past the primaries to be a candidate; and potentially dramatically changing her constituency, which would in turn severely alter her chances of winning another congressional seat.

Bachmann understands quite well how the Census data is reflected in apportionment and redistricting, and what that means for her own political career. If Minnesota does lose a representative to Congress after the 2010 election, it is being predicted within Minnesota that Bachmann’s seat is the most likely to be eliminated. So long as she continues to live in the state, she will be in some district, but who she has to compete with from her own party, and from the opposing parties, would be completely different.

In Minnesota, given past conflicts, there is an effort underway ahead of the 2010 Census to find a more fair, more NON-partisan method of changing the districts to reflect population changes and more fair minority representation. The Minnesota judiciary is less than thrilled at the prospect of deciding the redistricting again. While Bachmann seems to favor a more extremely conservative, ultra-right wing position, if the current state legislators are successful in making redistricting NON-partisan, extremism will not work in her favor.

The research paper, “Does the Introduction of Independent Redistricting Reduce Congressional Partisanship?” by Oedel, Lynch, Mulholland and Edwards (Villanova Law Reviw, Vol. 54) has some interesting conclusions about reducing partisan politics: There is some indication that drawing non-partisan districts result in less partisan political behavior, the antithesis of Bachmann’s style of politicking.

It is popular in some segments of the national media to regard Bachmann as some sort of fool. When you look at the specifics of her career as a state senator, her two congressional elections, her career as a lawyer and the larger context of redistricting conflicts with Minnesota in the last half of the 20th century and the 21st century being resolved in court, a different picture emerges. Her Census controversy is not an accident. She may be dumb like a fox, but she is also a fundraising politically savvy redistricting veteran.

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