here for PDF format
of Meeting with David Schultz
Civic Caucus, 8301
Creekside Circle, Bloomington, MN 55437
Friday, November 10,
Johnson, chair; Paul Gilje, Jim Hetland, Wayne Popham (by phone), and John
David Schultz, professor, Graduate School of Public Administration and
Context of the meeting--As
part of the Civic Caucus inquiry into the elections process and its impact
on polarization and paralysis of the Legislature, today we are meeting
with David Schultz, an expert on elections in Minnesota. He was invited
to discuss the recent election and offer his thoughts on changes in
elections that might be considered.
introduced Schultz, who
is former chair of
Common Cause, Minnesota. He has a Ph.D. in political science and a law
degree from the University of Minnesota. He has authored 20 books. He
is a nationally-recognized expert on political ethics, money and politics,
political participation, and eminent domain law and has been a frequent
commentator on television, radio, and in over 100 domestic and
international newspapers and periodicals, including the New York
the Wall Street Journal.
Schultz previously was
a speaker at the Civic Caucus, in March 2006.
Comments and discussion on the recent election--In
Schultz' comments and in the discussion the following points were made:
1. Not a tsunami or an
earthquake--While control of
state and federal lawmaking bodies shifted, the really significant aspect
is that these bodies were closely divided in the past and still are. To
illustrate his point, Schultz, offered these statistics:
--7,333 state legislators in the 50 states,
3,655 Democrats, and 3,632 Republicans.
--Republicans controlled both houses of the Legislature
in 20 states, and Democrats controlled both houses in 19 states.
--28 Republican Governors and 22 Democratic Governors
--Congress: House, 222 Republicans and 211 Democrats;
Senate, 55 Republicans, 44 Democrats and one independent.
--Minnesota: House, 67 Republicans and 66 Democrats;
Senate, 38 Democrats and 29 Republicans
--7,333 state legislators, with a switch of 275
seats, 4 percent of all seats, in the 50 states from Republican to
--Democrats now control both houses of the Legislature
in 23 states and Republicans, 10 states.
--28 Democrat governors and 22 Republican governors.
--Congress: House, 229 Democrats and 196 Republicans;
Senate, 51 Democrats and 49 Republicans
--Minnesota: House, 85 Democrats, 49 Republicans;
Senate, 44 Democrats and 23 Republicans
than 85 percent of members of Congress were returned to office. There
was a 6 percent shift of seats in the Senate and a 6.5 percent shift in
the House. Only 4 percent of State Legislative seats throughout the
nation changed hands.
2. Implications of the election--Schultz
sees only marginal shifts in policy. The USA electorate is very closely
divided, almost 50-50. He agreed that the election signified widespread
concern over Iraq and the economy, but he doesn't see radical changes,
such as a single payer health care system or nationalization of the
airlines. The big change in Washington probably will be evident in the
confirmation process, including Senate action on the appointment of John
Bolton to the U.N. and on future Supreme Court appointments.
He said the Democrats in Congress over the next two years need
to pass their agenda, let Bush veto what he chooses, and then fight it out
in the 2008 elections.
3. States where one party
controls both the House and Senate and the Governor--Schultz
said about 18-20 states have the same party in control of the House,
Senate and Governor.
4. Conservative Democrats
elected--Looking at the defeat
of Lincoln Chafee, a liberal Republican, to Sheldon Whitehouse, a
conservative Democrat, in
Schultz said that election revealed that a Republican probably can't be
elected in the Northeast. He also cited the defeat in
of conservative Republican Rick Santorum by conservative Democrat Bob
Casey, who might be more conservative than Santorum on many issues. He
also cited victories by Democrats in Western states like
Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, and Arizona. These elections signal a movement
to the right by Democrats. The election wasn't a vote on the Pelosi
agenda; the Democrats didn't win, the Republicans lost.
5. Direction of top leadership in
was asked to comment on the fact that the DFL caucuses in the House and
Senate have elected leaders that aren't known for conservative views. Is
this an exception to the national trend? Schultz said we need to see what
kind of an agenda is presented to the Legislature in 2007. We'll then see
whether polarization increases or decreases.
6. Most seats still safe--Despite
the shift in control of legislative bodies, Schultz said that only about
50 of the 435 House seats in Congress and 35 of 134 House seats in the
Minnesota Legislature were competitive. A Civic Caucus member commented
that every seat that could be changed did change.
7. Suburban women deserted the
women left the GOP in droves in Minnesota, he said. If this is a longer
term trend, it is a huge shift, he said. Amy Klobuchar ran a brilliant
campaign. Early on, in August, she was running an ad urging that mothers
be allowed to stay another day in the hospital after giving birth. That
issue resonated very well with soccer moms. By the end of August she had
a big lead over Mark Kennedy and never looked back. Women outnumbered
men at the polls in Minnesota, 52-48 percent. Those women voted 56-44
Mike Hatch, he said, forfeited an excellent opportunity to
attract the same group, by failing to effectively make use of Judi Dutcher,
his running mate, a moderate who had left the GOP. But he chose a
strategy that didn't use her presence and instead he concentrated only on
his base. Schultz said he has faced Hatch in court and has a great deal
of respect for him, but Hatch, he said, ran a very poor campaign. Fifty
years ago one could run a campaign in
by appealing only to the base of people in your own party. That's not
possible now. About 36 percent of Minnesotans are Democrat or leaning
that way; about 35 percent are GOP or leaning that way. The rest are
In the last debate among Hatch, Tim Pawlenty, and Peter
Hutchinson, Pawlenty strategically gave liberal voters a reason to go to
Hutchinson, rather than Hatch. But the really significant factor that
helped elect Pawlenty was the vote in the sixth district for Michele
Bachmann. As a conservative Republican she carried that district and
brought Pawlenty along with her. Bachmann was able to paint Patty
Wetterling as not supporting children. Wetterling overlooked an
opportunity to really take advantage of the children issue. She did well
against Mark Kennedy in the congressional race in 2004 by a simple message
of measuring all public policy change on what it does for kids. She could
have done that in 2006 but chose not to.
Back on the Governor's race, some persons wondered whether
Pawlenty had more charisma than Hatch. Schultz said he's not in the
group of people who sense that Pawlenty has a chance to make it on the
national scene. Both in 2002 and in 2006 Pawlenty didn't attract a
majority of voters. You need solid victories in your state to have a
chance nationally, he said Others disagreed, noting that Pawlenty was
the only survivor in a Democratic sweep.
8. Did evangelicals stay home?--Schultz
wonders whether Republicans lost because many evangelicals were not
satisfied with the Bush agenda and decided to stay home. Schultz
believes people are concerned about moral values but that many of them
don't believe the political process is the place to have their personal
morality translated into public policy. Asked way Bachmann won in such
a climate, Schultz said that her district probably has the highest
concentration of conservative Roman Catholics and evangelicals in the
nation and that enough of them came to the polls. The Republicans will
not do well if they continue to appeal only to their evangelical base.
Contrary to conventional wisdom, Schultz said that among evangelicals more
are liberal than conservative. However, the conservative evangelicals
have more visible spokespersons than the liberal evangelicals.
Continuing the discussion on religion and politics later in
the meeting, Schultz said that some polarization results from people who
believe they are doing God's will in taking certain positions. They are
not open to compromise, an attitude that produces gridlock and
paralysis. Without getting into the question of compromise or not, a
member noted a great interest in young people in attending colleges with
religious affiliation. Schultz said every college today is working to
attract students because 10 years from now a 10-15 percent drop in number
of 18-year-olds will occur.
9. An inevitable mid-term
facts don't support the common assumption that the out-of-power party
always gains in the mid-term elections.
10. Democrats are the
he polled a group of 20-something people and discovered that most people
thought of Democrats as being conservative. The reason was that Democrats
were seen as trying to preserve Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid,
and protectors of the status quo are seen as conservative.
Comments and discussion on possible changes in elections--In
Schultz' comments and in discussion the following points were made:
1. Reapportionment commission--This
is a battle that can be won, although a good legislative leader in this
area was lost with the retirement of Rep. Ron Abrams. Schultz believes
action can occur by 2010, so the new system can be in place before the
next reapportionment in 2011. A Civic Caucus member said a criterion of
competitiveness needs to be part of the legislation.
2. Instant runoff voting--Schultz
favors instant runoff voting. The group speculated about the impact of
such a system had it been in effect for the governor's race in 2006.
Under one scenario, the second choices from the
supporters could have decided the election. But others noted that if
instant runoff voting had been in effect before the campaign began then
Hutchinson might even have won.
3. Reducing the impact of money in
difficulties in making changes, campaign financing remains the most
important area needing reform, Schultz believes. Asked which legislators
would likely support changes, he singled out Rep. Steve Simon, Rep. Tom
Emmer, and Sen. Dick Cohen.
4. Recommended improvements--To
limit the impact of special interst money on political parties and
legislative caucuses and improve the fairness of state political
campaigns, Schultz recommends the following (in a January 24, 2005 memo):
--A $500 limit on all political contributions to political
parties and legislative caucuses.
--Limit to 20 percent in aggregate dollars as a percent of
total contributions received that any political party, party unit, or
legislative caucus may receive from lobbyists, political action committees
or above-$250 individual donors.
--Limit to $2,000 per legislative race the total independent
expenditures that parties and legislative caucuses could make.
--Regulate attack ads
--Immediate disclosure of all contributions and expenditures
in excess of $1,000.
behalf of the Civic Caucus, Verne extended sincere thanks to Schultz for
meeting with us today.
The Civic Caucus
is a non-partisan,
tax-exempt educational organization. Core participants
include persons of varying political persuasions, reflecting
years of leadership in politics and business.
A working group meets face-to-face to
provide leadership. They are Verne C. Johnson, chair; Lee
Canning, Charles Clay, Bill Frenzel,
Paul Gilje, Jim Hetland,
John Mooty, Jim Olson, Wayne Popham and John Rollwagen.
Click Here to
see a biographical statement of each.