Can Michele Bachmann be beat?
A new Democratic poll suggests Rep. Michele Bachmann could face a serious fight for reelection this fall, a finding sure to re-start the debate over whether the controversial Minnesota Republican can truly be beaten or whether she is simply the Democrats’ white whale.
In polling conducted by Anna Greenberg of Greenberg Quinlan Rosen Research Bachmann leads Minneapolis hotel magnate Jim Graves (D) 48 percent to 43 percent. A third (34 percent) of voters in the district rate her performance as “poor,” although 39 percent call it “excellent” or good.”
This poll will likely only embolden Democrats who would love, for largely symbolic reasons, to see Bachmann lose. Her outspoken conservatism, which was on full display during her 2012 presidential bid, has made her a enemy number one — or close to it — for many Democratic strategists and activists around the country.
But, Democrats have gone after Bachmann before without success.
In 2008, she beat Elwyn Tinklenber g (greatest name ever) by only three points — a race that attracted national liberal attention due to her suggestion that Obama and some members of Congress should be probed for “anti-American views.”
But in the 2010 Republican wave, Bachmann beat then-state Sen. Tarryl Clark by over ten points. She’s been helped by third-party candidates who — with a couple notable exceptions — generally do more damage to Democrats than Republicans in the state.
While Bachmann was carved out of her former seat in redistricting, she is still running in the 6th district, which is actually slightly more Republican than it was before the decennial line drawing process. (According to Cook Report estimates, Bachmann’s old seat was 7 points more Republican than the national average; her new seat is 8 points more Republican).
Graves, a multi-millionaire, doesn’t plan to self-fund his campaign — and Bachmann has proven her massive fundraising capacity when running for reelection. (At the end of March, Bachmann had $642,480 on hand, but she raised most of that in two months — more than any other House incumbent. Graves had only $85,026).
And, remember that when Bachmann narrowly beat Tinklenberg in 2008, she became the focus of a national Democratic effort to oust her following her “anti-American” comments. That it didn’t work is a testament to the underlying conservatism of the district.
All of which is to say that — this poll notwithstanding — Bachmann will be hard to very beat.