Who is Bob Anderson? Michele Bachmann’s best friend

Bob’s theory of politics in Minnesota is if you put an Independence Party candidate not named Jesse Ventura on a ballot, Republicans win.

Independence Party fans hate me for saying that but for the most part, it’s true.

They can logically point to Al Franken’s Senate race tonight — so far — as proof the theory doesn’t stand up.

And I’ll counter with Bob Anderson, a veritable unknown who is clearly pulling votes from Elwyn Tinklenberg tonight, paving the way — again, so far — for Michele Bachmann.

As of 9:19 p.m., a quarter of the vote has been counted and Anderson has been consistent with 10-percent of the vote.

That’s a stunning performance, especially when you consider the Independence Party of Minnesota — normally desperate for candidates — didn’t endorse Anderson. In 2006, John Binkowski, who ran a spirited campaign, got his party endorsement, and was invited to participate in debates, scored only 7.8% of the vote.

(Following section updated 9:59 p.m.)

What’s happening here? The Minnesota “Anderson effect.” Candidates named Anderson will get votes from voters who don’t know much about the candidates. I’ve written before about Sharon Anderson’s capturing of the Republican primary for Attorney General in the ’90s, a surprising win that had even the GOP disavowing her. She put up a strong fight in the last election in Minnesota, but she was running against a guy named Johnson.

Pat Awada claimed the state auditor job a few years ago, after she started using her maiden name in the campaign — Anderson. After a divorce, she lost the battle for re-election as Pat Anderson. The Anderson effect is not inviolate.

  • Jo in Plymouth

    This is truly too bad as Bachmann is such an embarrassment to the state of Minnesota with her extremist views. She is far from the bipartisanship that is needed at this time.

  • It tears me up, Bob.

    The IP in a meta sense is a bad thing for the DFL. In principle, having a third party is a good thing,and I like that.

    In practice…well, its giving (IMO) undeserved life to a distasteful member of Congress’ bid for re-election, and is swinging the races in the 3rd and the Senate toward the Republicans, too. It’s my district, the 6th, though, that tears me up much more than Barkley giving a boost to Coleman winning.

  • bsimon

    Bob, you called it. The Anderson affect is alive and well in MN-6.

    As a supporter of the IP party, and independent voter, I have to wonder what on earth the Anderson voters in MN-6 are thinking. The IP endorsed Tink, who has pretty good, moderate views on the issues. What’s the logic for voting for Anderson – if NOT the name? I’m stumped.

  • George Hayduke

    Bob Anderson was a one-issue candidate: mental health parity for insurance. That’s now law, and Bachmann voted against it. But Anderson is helping to re-elect Bachmann. Hope you’re happy Bob. Maybe it’s time to change your meds.

  • brady

    If she can get re-elected after everything that happen, I think we might as well stop trying and just accept that she will be causing the country to laugh at us for the rest of our lifetimes.

  • bsimon

    Bob writes

    “Bob’s theory of politics in Minnesota is if you put an Independence Party candidate not named Jesse Ventura on a ballot, Republicans win… Independence Party fans hate me for saying that but for the most part, it’s true.”

    I don’t know why they would. The problem isn’t the IP, the problem is the DFL. If they had better policy proposals, there wouldn’t be a need for the IP. Of course, in my view, the real problem is the voters who continue to reward failure from the party that most benefits from the IP’s existence.

  • Bob Collins

    Well, the problem here is people voting for a candidate based on the surname. I’m sure Bob Anderson is a nice guy and might even make a good congressman. And he no doubt deserves the — I’d estimate — 4-5% of the votes from those who probably knew about him.

    But it’s highly, highly unlikely that 10% of the 6th District knew about him and, like I said, he didn’t even get support from his own party.

    In a way, it’s funny that for all the machinations around this race, it comes down to a third party candidate with the right last name.

    It ain’t a pretty process, but it ain’t dull, either.

    I’ll be honest with you, though, the other problem here is how the media treats “minor” candidates. I’ve long objected to the MPR policy of excluding minor candidates from debates, as they did with that way-too-short one on Midday the other day. If you truly believe in an informed electorate, then whether they have a chance of winning –or not — is an irrelevant standard because if an election can swing based — partly — on a misinformed electorate, then the media has to stand up and accept the fact that it has a direct responsibility for that ignorance.

  • N

    Have we forgotten the 2006 senate race so soon? An Independent was running then (I voted for him) and unfortunately the DFL won. Thankfully Mrs. Bachmann won her race so we’re not a one party state.

  • Mark Hildman

    Bob Collins, thanks.

    Your post at 12:42am stated precisley some points I wanted to make.

    While I am sure there is some validity to the ‘Anderson effect’ I am inclined to believe that some/many of the votes Mr. Anderson received were reflective of a dissatisfaction with both major party candidates, and the negative ads that dominated the race.

    Mr. Anderson entered this race to give attention to some less covered issues, and to provide another choice for voters.

    I am saddened to see Mr. Anderson scapegoated for the failure of another’s campaign.

    I am also disappointed in seeing a tactless insult which; disparages all those who have, or had, a mental illness; as well as demonstrates an ignorance about mental health.

  • Tom

    Too bad – Anderson enabled Bachman to return to Congress … just like Nader “defeated” Gore and gave us Bush. Third-party dreamers can protest all they want, but thou dost protest too much. We’re a two-party nation, and those with third-party notions are about as helpful as a glass eye. I’m from California and followed any number of state elections. At least Dole is gone, and it’s not likely that Bachman will have many allies. She’s isolated and ineffective, but the greatest loss is that of the 6th District – their voice in Congress has been compromised. Thank you Mr. Anderson (which reminds me – seen “Matrix” lately?).

  • Bob Collins

    Anderson shouldn’t be criticized for running or for putting up a good showing. As someone else pointed out upstream, it’s up to his opposition to get off their poll-driven scripts and make a compelling case for a vote.

    But from purely a political science point of view, it’s undeniable at this point that the Independence Party doesn’t make a three-party system stronger, it makes the Republican Party stronger and when you’re asking for someone’s vote in a three-way race, you have to acknowledge that fact.

    And it is a fact of Minnesota politics right now.

    But neither Dems, nor GOPers have a RIGHT to my vote; they have to earn it and if they didn’t earn it, the fault isn’t mine or the candidate I vote for. The fault is entirely with them.

    The DFL, by the way, gave VERY little help to Tinklenberg earlier in the campaign. It remains a relatively arrogant city-dominated party that doesn’t “get” the suburbs and its machine didn’t think Tinklenberg could win until Bachmann went on Hardball and by then, it was too late.

    That’s a scenario that’s going to be repeated over and over and over in this state until the DFL begins to better understand the suburbs and stops treating them like white enclaves of racists.

  • Joel Calhoun

    Outcomes like this one should increase the push for Instant Runoff Voting. Last I heard this had passed in Minneapolis for local races and it was tied up in court.

  • Dakotah Rae

    This race, like too many across the state, has been decided on a low plurality win. The majority of voters did not vote for Bachman yet she will maintain her seat. This could be the case for US Senate as well. This election is a clear example of how Minnesota would benefit from using instant runoff voting for local and state elections.

    What if Anderson was eliminated after the initial tally revealed no majority winner, and those who had voted for him had their second preference counted in the runoff?

    Anderson, like many third party candidates last evening, gained double digits of the vote. All voters should have the right to choose the candidate they prefer without fear of “spoiling” an election or “wasting” their vote. By allowing voters to rank their preferences, we would ensure candidates are elected with a majority of support.

  • Information for Journalists about the US Senate Race Results.

    We knew that if we did not win we would have to explain the “spoiler issue” despite the fact that it was Coleman and Franken who spoiled this race with their sleeze. This is version B of the explanation. If Franken got 800 more votes then he did we would be using version A for a bunch of whiny Republicans instead…you can bet on it.

    1) Most Barkley voters would not have voted without him in the race.

    According to the National Election Pool exit polls, 45% of Barkley supporters would not have voted at all in the Senate race without Dean (StarTribune). According to CNN that number is 75%. Given the stigma attached to saying you would not vote, we are inclined to thing the percentage is on closer to the higher one. Question: Do you want to disenfranchise these voters? We would say “go to &^**”…no wait, that would be what Franken or Coleman would say.

    Norm Coleman and Al Franken ran the dirtiest, most expensive campaign in the United States. There was less than 1/80th spent on Barkley and yet he got 15%. Look in the mirror candidates. Parties: pick better candidates! By the way Al, if Dean benefited from negative ads, imagine what would have happened had you been a nice guy!

    2) The AP says that Dean Barkley pulled evenly from both sides:


    Exit Poll data says the percentage of Dems and Republicans who voted for Dean was equal. This jives with nearly every previous poll, which had the pull the same or varying between the two.

    Moreover, Franken lost far more votes to Coleman directly than he did to Barkley.

    3) The IP pushes Minnesota over the top on voter turnout.

    Minnesota has had the highest voter turnout rate for years. The media concentrates on same day voter registration, but completely forgets Minnesota’s multi-party system. Without the Independence Party, we would not lead the nation in turnout.

    4) Our support is going up. We can reasonably say that our base is now at 10% or above. This is astounding. We are not as big as the other two big parties, but we are much more than a typical 3rd party with growth and staying power.

    5) Hey- we support like-minded politicians….you don’t care to report!

    This year we experimented with cross-endorsing Steve Sarvi, a conservative Democrat for Congress in order to give him a boost. The media ignored it, did not allow Sarvi to cite cross-endorsement in the paper, and ignored it. We also endorsed El Tinklenberg and Representative Erhardt (Republican). The media ignored it, said they didn’t care, and stick their head in the sand. That’s too bad.

  • Come on…think!

    IP candidates at the federal level tend to hit the Republicans harder….yes that is right. Tammy Lee- Sales tax replacing the income tax (CD5- 2006). John Binkowski (CD6-2006) agreed and called for the elimination of the Department of Education. Jim Moore (2002) and Jim Gibson (2000) were fiscal hawks.

    CD 6 is about as pro-life as it gets. It also has a strange rural conservative with a slight libertarian edge (why Binkowski got 8% in 2006). I was at the convention where Tinklenberg + Binkowski vote = victory for one of a few moderate Democrats. I thought it was nuts.

    John Binkowski was a libertarian. The IP brand in this area is libertarian and does best in the rural areas of Benton County, Mille Lacs County and Wright County (Barklly in 20s, Anderson in teens). These people would not have voted Tinklenberg. They would have either stayed home or voted for Bachman on guns.

    Did Jim Gibson elect Mark Dayton, Bob. Did Jim Moore crash the plane (Wellstone would have won). Did Tammy Lee elect Keith Ellison. You selected narrative is rather selective, and frankly scares me a bit coming from a journalist.

    If you ever want a credible understanding of strategic voting…please call me. I have done the research, talked to the researchers, talked to parties in Canada and the UK (elections systems like our own). It really is a hell of a lot more complicated.

    Respectfully, but frustrated.

    Peter Tharaldson

    5th CD CHair


  • Gibson for Senate- DFL won

    Foley for House- DFL won

    Moore for Sentate- Wellstone would have won…Coleman does not count on Mondale disaster.

    Mickelson CD1, DFL won

    Lee CD5, DFL won (and we beat the crap out of Alan Fine in MPLS…very appropriately)

    Binkowski CD6, Republican won in Republican district

    Dillon CD3, Republican won in what was still a Republican district.

    Ross Perot- Clinton won (our policies are still the same and is a good answer agains the Nader obsession).

    I really think you are wearing some glasses with Peter Hutchinson’s face on them (and actually the CNN exit polls show that Hatch last 4 out of 5 of his votes in the last week after his eruption to….Tim Pawlenty). When Larry Jacobs said 10 days before the 2006 election we were pulling evenly…he was right (someone should have duct taped Hatch’s mouth).

    BTW- all the down ballot races went DFL.

    In 2002 Tim Penny suffered a polarizing collapse after the plane crash…going from tied in third week of October to 16%.

    As I am running my tally, it isn’t looking real painful to the DFL…frankly they should be pretty damn happy.

    I have always found it remarkable how the press misses our federal platform and candidates, despite their being the foundation of our party (Perot and Barkley).

    The numbers don’t look real favorable to you hypothesis. You might argue some qualification on a few, but at the best you we will come to the conclusion that it is pretty damn random.


  • I think most of you are reading Anderson’s contribution all wrong.

    Anderson is one of that TINY film of ex-GOPers in the IP (like Jim Gibson was in 2002). He’s described himself as a bit of a fiscal conservative.

    I’m not sure if IP voters actually pay attention to issues, or merely cling to the conceit that they’re smarter than the masses of major-party droogs, but if people are actually paying attention to the candidates rather than the parties, Anderson may indicate that the Sixth is even more conservative than Bachmann’s exhilarating victory would indicate.

    Oh, yeah – and Bachmann is one of the two best, sharpest, most hope-giving members of Minnesota’s delegation.