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Appendix H: Analysis of Election Returns

 

Aggregate returns from the 2002 Independence Party primary for U.S. Senate show that, I Bill McGaughey, received 8,482 votes, or 31.00% of the total votes cast. Jim Moore, the primary winner, received 13,525 votes, 49.44% of the total. Ronald E. Wills received 5,351 votes, or 19.56% of the total. The turnout for the 2002 Minnesota primary election was a comparatively light 18.6% of eligible voters.

When I went to the state capitol during the following week to visit the basement press room, I encountered the surrealistic spectacle of the state’s three top elected officials - Governor Ventura, House speaker Steve Sviggum, and Senate majority leader Roger Moe - giving a joint press conference in the hallway about a special session of the legislature to deal with flood damage in northern Minnesota. The press corps was obviously tied up with that story. I therefore went across the street to the State Office Building to seek further information about the election at the Minnesota Secretary of State’s office. An employee of that office gave me a printout of the votes cast by county - all 87 of them - in the primary for U.S. Senate. That data has allowed me to analyze the election returns in light of my campaign strategy.

For strategic purposes, I divided the state between metro and out state. Even though the Twin Cities metro area is my home, I had fewer opportunities to campaign there because it was more difficult to receive media coverage. The radio and television stations normally do not cover political campaigns unless the campaigner is an endorsed major-party candidate or otherwise well-known or, perhaps, unless the campaigner has a gimmick which peeks the reporters’ interest. That leaves the print media.

The two large daily newspapers in the Twin Cities, the (Minneapolis) Star Tribune and the St. Paul Pioneer Press, are the main newspapers which would cover the U.S. Senate race. Both publish Voters Guides. Both normally include news reporting about this race. In my case, the St. Paul Pioneer Press did, but the Star Tribune did not. I was therefore facing a black hole of news reporting in the Minneapolis area (including suburbs) in which my principal opponent’s campaign was covered but not mine.

In Minneapolis, my home, I had an advantage of being known personally to many voters. So did my two opponents, since they were also residents of Minneapolis. I thought I might have an advantage through my association with Minneapolis Property Rights Action Committee. The Watchdog newspaper, with a circulation of 10,000, took a paid ad from my campaign. The editor promised to run a travelog-type article about my campaign in the issue just before the primary. Unfortunately, this newspaper was distributed on the morning of the primary - too late to be effective. Also, the Property Rights group allowed me to appear as a guest on its cable-television show that airs on the metro channel. Here, again, the potential advantage was minimized by the fact that my presentation received only ten minutes of air time. Other media publicity included a published letter to the editor in City Pages, an alternative weekly newspaper in the Twin Cities, on July 17th, and a classified ad in the following issue; and a letter to the editor published on September 6th in the Star Tribune. I had a paid ad in the St. Paul Pioneer Press on election day, September 10th. Ronald Wills had one in the Star Tribune on September 9th.

Another part of my campaign for U.S. Senate consisted of visits to newspaper offices out state. (See Appendix A for details.) The success of this enterprise would depend upon my ability to reach these newspapers by telephone calls, fax, or email, and, most importantly, by personal visits. Second, it would depend on the newspaper editors’ willingness to put something about my campaign in the newspaper. To include a colorful photograph with the article would be an especially great benefit. Third, the effectiveness of newspaper stories would depend upon whether the stories were favorable or unfavorable. Fourth, it would depend upon how close to the election the stories appeared - how fresh they were in the voters’ minds. Since I have seen few of these stories about my campaign, I cannot comment intelligently on the success of my efforts in each city. I know mainly whether I visited the city, how much time I had to talk with the reporter, and whether the reporter appeared to be interested or sympathetic.

Before reviewing the election returns by county, I might have predicted the following results: First, I would do better in the out state area than in the metro area because the metro newspapers, especially the Star Tribune, had given more extensive coverage to Jim Moore’s campaign than to mine and because I was spending the bulk of my time traveling around the state. Second, I would do better in St. Paul than in Minneapolis because the St. Paul Pioneer Press had mentioned me in its story of the Independence Party Senate primary and had run my paid ad. Third, I would do worse in areas of more intense Independence Party activity because the party was working hard to elect Moore. This last impact was hard to determine. I could only guess from email messages what the party organization was doing.

McGaughey's Top Twenty Counties
Table A
County
Number of votes
Big City in County
McGaughey Percent of IP Vote
IP Percent of Total Vote
Olmsted
1,208
Rochester
30.94%
30.7%
Hennepin
1,129
Minneapolis
30.49%
4.0%
Ramsey
538
St. Paul
30.57%
3.7%
Anoka
497
Anoka
33.11%
5.1%
Dakota
326
Hastings
29.21%
5.1%
Freeborn
321
Albert Lea
27.77%
18.5%
St. Louis
310
Duluth
31.50%
3.0%
Stearns
222
St. Cloud
33.89%
5.4%
Mower
204
Austin
34.00%
12.7%
Waseca
201
Waseca
26.14%
32.8%
Washington
187
Stillwater
29.49%
4.9%
McLeod
176
Hutchinson
31.21%
8.5%
Scott
132
Shakopee
33.00%
5.1%
Goodhue
118
Red Wing
31.72%
10.8%
Wabasha
112
Wabasha
29.09%
20.7%
Ottertail
108
Fergus Falls
34.07%
3.3%
Winona
108
Winona
31.37%
9.2%
Itasca
105
Grand Rapids
36.33%
3.8%
Steele
102
Owatonna
32.48%
16.1%
Blue Earth
100
Mankato
25.77%
7.9%
total - 87 counties
8,466
30.97%
5.7%

How did it turn out? The most striking result was that , in absolute terms, I received a larger number of votes in Olmsted County than in either Hennepin or Ramsey Counties. Table A shows that 1,208 people voted for me in Olmsted County (which includes the city of Rochester), compared with 1,129 people who voted for me in Hennepin County. In 1999, Olmsted County had a population of 121,452 persons. Hennepin County (which includes Minneapolis) had a population of 1,089,024 persons. Though home to the famed Mayo Clinic, Rochester was only the state’s fifth largest city, having a population of 82,019 in 1999. My vote total in Olmsted County was exceeding that in a county nine times as populous.

Why did I do so well in Rochester? The answer was obviously Tim Penny. Tim Penny, the Independence Party’s candidate for governor in 2002, was a former Congressman who had represented the First Congressional District for six terms. A Democrat in a largely Republican district, Penny was personally popular. All across southeastern Minnesota, encompassing the First District, Independence Party candidates were doing well. People there were most likely voting in the Independence Party primary because they wanted to vote for Tim Penny. Because many voters felt obliged to fill out the rest of the ballot, Independence Party candidates for other offices received a relatively large number of votes. It was a humbling experience for me to realize that, regardless of my own strategy, the main incentive for people to vote for me was that I was on the same ballot as Tim Penny. This did not affect my competition with Jim Moore, however. His vote count in Olmsted County was also relatively high, though not exceeding his vote in Hennepin County.

With respect to the all-important contest with Moore, the bottom line is that I received 31.00% of the statewide vote compared with his 49.44% share of the vote. I can judge the effectiveness of my campaign by identifying counties where I received substantially more or substantially less than 31 % of the vote, the statewide average. First, regarding the idea that I would do better out state than in the metro area, the evidence does not support that theory. I received 30.489% of the Independence Party primary vote for Senate in Hennepin County, and 30.568% of the vote in Ramsey County. Those figures were only slightly below the statewide average of 31%. If lack of coverage in the Star Tribune relative to the St. Paul Pioneer Press affected the race, its impact was minimal. My percentage of the vote received in the St. Paul area was only slightly higher than in the Minneapolis area. So my political imagination was running ahead of the facts.

Tables B and C tell the real story of the campaign. (I have listed only those counties which cast more than 100 votes in the Independence Party primary for U.S. Senate.) Table B lists the fifteen Minnesota counties where I received the highest percentage of the Independence Party vote, in descending order by percentage. Table C lists the ten counties where I received the lowest percentages of the Independence Party vote, in ascending order by percentage. To make sense of the results, we need to compare the relatively good or bad showing in the primary election with known campaign activities in those areas. If I visited the newspaper office in a major city or town located in a particular county, one would expect that this action might have a positive impact on the election result. Also, we can make guesses relating to characteristics of the region where the county is located how its voters might have received my campaign. Might, for instance, the proposal for a shorter workweek appeal to farmers? Probably not. This issue would play better on the Iron Range.

McGaughey's Top 15 counties in Percent of Independence Party Votes
Table B
County
McGaughey's % of IP vote
Big City in County
IP % of total vote
Region
Koochiching
50.75%
International Falls
3.4%
north
Aitkin
49.49%
Aitkin
5.6%
north central
Houston
43.52%
Caledonia
9.4%
south east
Morrison
41.18%
Little Falls
6.0%
central north
Crow Wing
38.37%
Brainerd
4.1%
central north
Mille Lacs
38.21%
Milaca
4.5%
east central
Kannabec
38.03%
Mora
5.9%
west central
Chisago
37.50%
Center City
4.0%
north exurban
Itasca
36.33%
Grand Rapids
3.8%
north central
Fillmore
36.15%
Preston
14.1%
south east
Wadena
34.62%
Wadena
3.8%
central north
Mower
34.40%
Austin
12.7%
south
Benton
34.21%
Foley
5.8%
east central
Ottertail
34.07%
Fergus Falls
3.3%
west central
Stearns
33.89%
St. Cloud
5.4%
central north

 

Where did I do well? The county associated with my highest percentage of the Independence Party vote was Koochiching County in the extreme northern part of the state. I did not visit Koochiching County during the campaign. I was planning to be in International Falls and other northern towns on Thursday, August 29th, but my snap decision to return to Bemidji derailed those plans. Some of the good showings might be attributed to campaign visits. The 43.52% of the vote in Houston County might conceivably have been connected to visiting the office of the Houston County News in La Crescent on August 14th; however, that visit occurred early in the campaign. The 41.18% of the vote in Morrison County might be attributed to my having participated in the Little Falls parade on August 11th, reinforced by a visit to the Morrison County Record on September 3rd. I suspect that newspaper-office visits might also have played a part in my relatively strong showings in Crow Wing, Itasca, Mower, and Otter Tail Counties, as well as in McLeod County. I am guessing that Tim Budig’s mention of my campaign in ECM Publications might have given me extra votes in Mille Lacs, Kanabec, and Chisago Counties. There was a pattern of doing well in what I would call “Paul Bunyan Country” - those wooded areas north of the Twin Cities where tourism is a major industry. I made a point of passing out photographs of me standing in front of the statues of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox. Maybe a number of newspapers in that area ran stories with that photograph.

Now, where did I not do well? Table B gives a list of ten counties. These counties are concentrated in the rural areas of southwestern, western, and southern Minnesota. Sibley, Clay, and Wright counties I did not visit during the campaign. A reporter for Echo Press in Alexandria told me that it was then too late for primary-campaign coverage. My brief conversations with editors in Redwood, Watonwan, Blue Earth, Waseca, and Freeborn counties must not have produced stories or else ones with a negative slant. It may be that regional explanations hold the key to this disappointing vote. Farmers may indeed be turned off by crusaders for a shorter workweek. They may be suspicious of city slickers like me who want “dignity for white males”. I got that impression at Farm Fest. Maybe Don Davis’ interview with me in the basement of the Minnesota State Capitol produced less than a glowing account of my candidacy. That might explain the poor showing in Clay County, across the Red River from Fargo, in Moorhead. Having read Davis’ article, I feel I came off better than some of the other minor candidates for U.S. Senate. However, the emphasis upon our bizarre qualities as a group might have hurt me with respect to Jim Moore.

McGaughey's Bottom 15 counties in Percent of Independence Party Votes Table C
County
McGaughey's % of IP vote
Big City in County
IP % of total vote
Region
         
Sibley
22.44%
Gaylord
7.9%
south central
Douglas
23.72%
Alexandria
6.1%
central northwest
Redwood
24.11%
Redwood Falls
5.5%
south west
Watonwan
24.14%
St. James
10.8%
south west
Blue Earth
25.77%
Mankato
7.9%
south
Waseca
26.14%
Waseca
32.8%
south
Freeborn
27.55%
Albert Lea
18.5%
south
Clay
29.05%
Moorhead
1.9%
west central
Wright
29.06%
Buffalo
4.7%
west exurban
Wabasha
29.09%
Wabasha
20.7%
south east

 

Another pattern which shows up in Tables B and C is that I tended to do well in counties where the Independence Party did poorly and, vice versa, tended to do poorly in counties where the Independence Party did well. Statewide, Independence Party candidates for the U.S. Senate attracted an average of 5.68% of the total vote for Senate. (Jim Moore wound up receiving 2.24% of the Senate vote in the general election, however.) In Table C, which lists counties where I did poorly, the Independence Party percentage of total vote exceeded the 5.68% average in seven out of the ten counties. On the other hand, in Table B, which lists counties where I did well, the Independence Party percentage of total vote exceeded the statewide average in only six counties out of fifteen.

By and large, my percentage of the Independence Party vote for Senate was lower in “Tim Penny Country” - or should I call it, in contrast with Paul Bunyan, “the Valley of the Jolly Green Giant” - in southern and southeastern Minnesota, than in the central and northeastern parts of the state. There were exceptions. In Olmsted County, my percentage of the Independence Party vote nearly matched my statewide average. Perhaps, Washington D.C. Bureau reporter Angela Greiling Keane's’ story in the Post-Bulletin helped me in Rochester. Lee Bonorden, who interviewed me for the Austin Daily Herald, seemed sympathetic to my campaign. He might have helped me in Mower County. The atypically strong showings In Houston and Fillmore Counties, both tourist areas, might have reflected regional idiosyncrasies. State representative Greg Davids of Preston is my kind of guy.

McGaughey Vote in Twin Cities and Surrounding Area
Table D
County
Type of Area
Percent of Statewide Vote for U.S. Senate
IP Percent of Vote
McGaughey Percent of IP Vote
Hennepin
west urban & suburban
19.05%
4.04%
30.49%
Ramsey
east urban & suburban
9.86%
3.71%
30.57%
_______
subtotal
urban & suburban
28.91%
3.93%
30.51%
Washington
east suburban
2.71%
4.86%
29.50%
Anoka
north suburban
6.11%
5.11%
33.11%
Carver
southwest suburban
1.27%
2.30%
32.62%
Scott
southwest suburban
1.62%
5.14%
33.00%
Dakota
southeast suburban
5.59%
4.15%
29.21%
_______
subtotal
suburban
17.30%
5.02%
31.33%
Goodhue
southeast exurban
0.71%
10.84%
31.72%
Rice
south exurban
0.69%
6.85%
31.44%
LeSueur
southwest exurban
0.44%
10.86%
33.54%
McLeod
southwest exurban
1.38%
8.49%
31.21%
Wright
northwest exurban
0.86%
4.72%
29.06%
Sherburne
northwest exurban
0.86%
5.01%
26.09%
Isanti
northeast exurban
0.70%
5.66%
30.73%
Chisago
northeast exurban
0.84%
3.96%
37.50%
_______
subtotal
exurban
6.65%
7.74%
31.19%
total
52.86%
4.48%
30.91%


Table D, which shows votes cast in the Twin Cities metro and adjoining areas, can also shed light on the election returns. In the first column, we see that the two counties with the core cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul between them control almost 30% of the statewide vote. If you add the five predominantly suburban counties adjoining them in the seven-county metro area, it’s up to 46% of the state vote. Adding the eight counties in the exurban communities beyond them, we have a 52.86 % share of the state vote. These percentages reflect the 2002 primary vote for U.S. Senate, not population. Due to a pattern of relatively light voting in Minneapolis and St. Paul, the above-mentioned counties would dominate Minnesota election results even more if vote totals followed population.

This table shows that metro voters treated me differently in the 2002 Senate primary than they treated Independence Party candidates as a group. The Independence Party vote percentage increases progressively as one moves farther from the Twin Cities - from 3.93% for the urban/ suburban voters to 5.02% for the suburban voters to 7.74% for the exurban voters. My vote percentages in the Independence Party primary show less variation. The percentages in Hennepin and Ramsey Counties are slightly below the statewide average; and for the other two areas, slightly above this average. Of the two populous suburban counties, I did better in the northwestern county of Anoka and worse in Dakota County, southeast of St. Paul.

If I had to do it over with political hindsight, I would still have focused on visits to newspaper offices in outside Minnesota. I might not have made two special 300-mile (single way) trips to Crookston, once to participate in a parade and once to meet an appointment in a newspaper office, considering that Polk County gave me only 18 votes. I would probably have spent more time campaigning in southern and southeastern Minnesota where the tide of support for Tim Penny translated into large numbers of votes for all Independence Party candidates. It might also have made sense to spend that last three days before the primary election making a shameless attempt to attract attention from the electronic broadcast media. I might have staged telegenic events in places like Rochester, Mankato, or St. Cloud, exhibiting my sign in public, instead of talking to voters on the Nicollet Mall or marching in the Burnsville parade. I might have called in to radio talk shows. There are several might-have-beens.

On the whole, however, I am satisfied with the campaign as it was actually conducted. Though a losing candidate, I am pleased with the number of votes I received and the percentage of total votes. Thank you, independently minded voting people of Minnesota for giving my lonely campaign a chance.

See next item in Appendix.

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