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New Minnesota district map could benefit Democrats

at 05:41 PM ET, 02/22/2012

A court-appointed redistricting panel in Minnesota on Tuesday released a congressional map that could help Democrats pick off a seat or two in the coming elections.
Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) addresses the American Conservative Union's annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington earlier this month. (REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

The big headline coming out of the map was how Reps. Michele Bachmann (R) and Betty McCollum (D) had their homes drawn into the same Democratic-leaning 4th district. But Bachmann said Tuesday that she will remain in her current 6th district, which actually gets slightly safer for her.

(Bachmann has done a good job raising a fuss about the situation, which should help her raise money to retire the debt from her presidential campaign, but she actually has very little to worry about in the primary or the general election.)

The real news here is what the map does in the state’s more competitive districts.

The biggest change affects Rep. John Kline (R-Minn.), who has not been a top Democratic target in recent years but may be now; he saw his Republican-leaning 2nd district south of the Twin Cities shift about three points towards Democrats. While Kline’s district went about 51 percent for Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in the 2008 presidential race, it would now have gone about 48 percent for McCain, according to performance numbers for the new districts obtained by The Fix.

Democrats have not recruited a top opponent yet for Kline, who survived pretty easily in 2006 and 2008 despite some lean years for Republicans.

The other shifts that should help Democrats — at least a little bit — are in the districts held by freshman Rep. Chip Cravaack (R-Minn.) and Rep. Tim Walz (D-Minn.).

Cravaack’s district already leaned towards Democrats and was a tough hold for the GOP; now it becomes even tougher.

The Iron Range 8th district, which went just 46 percent for McCain in 2008, would now have gone less than 45 percent for him. Among those seeking to face Cravaack is former state senator Tarryl Clark, who challenged Bachmann in 2010.

Walz, meanwhile, saw his swing 1st district in southern Minnesota get a little more Democratic as well, shifting from a 48 percent McCain district to a 47 percent McCain district.

The good news for the GOP is that not only does Bachmann’s district get safer, so does Rep. Erik Paulsen’s (R-Minn.). He hails from some increasingly Democratic suburbs west of Minneapolis. But Paulsen’s battleground district is now more Republican than both Walz’s and Kline’s districts, though it’s still just a 47 percent McCain district.

Rep. Collin Peterson’s (D-Minn.) conservative-leaning western 7th district gets slightly safer for Democrats. Even though it remains a district that McCain won, it’s unlikely to be competitive until the popular longtime congressman retires.

 
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