If Minnesota's 2018 election was held yesterday, and conducted entirely through phone calls made to 949 "randomly selected" residents, it would... be a really weird way to do that.
As it happens, it's not. What did occur Wednesday was the release of a new NBC News/Marist poll, which found three top-of-the-ticket DFL candidates leading their opponents by significant amounts.
The unbeatable DFL U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar could be cruising to a second consecutive 30-plus point victory, with a 63 percent to 33 percent lead over the curious candidacy of state Rep. Jim Newberger (R-Becker).
DFL U.S. Sen. Tina Smith, whose inheritance of Al Franken's emptied seat had some Republicans rubbing their hands, leads state Sen. Karin Housley (R-St. Marys Point) 54 percent to 38 percent. It gets worse for Housley: While 51 percent of respondents have a "favorable" view of Tina Smith, 42 percent of them have not heard of Karin Housley. Quick, Karin! Send them your leftover books!
DFL U.S. Rep. Tim Walz has a similar (53-39) edge over Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson, typically thought to be the likeliest of these three Republican candidates to run a close race. (For some reason, NBC neglected to poll the Attorney General race pitting accused abuser Keith Ellison against convicted weirdo Doug Wardlow; that race appears to be running much closer than these three.)
NBC frames these results as a referendum on Donald Trump, whose job approval/disapproval rating stands at 39 percent positive and 55 percent negative, with 41 percent in the "strongly disapprove" category.
Only 5 percent of "likely voters" describe themselves as "unsure" about the president's performance. (Please send us your email addresses, we have some internet hyperlinks we'd like to send you.)
Democrats also lead on the generally useless "generic ballot" questions, with 53 percent of Minnesotans saying they'd vote for a Democrat (just any ol' Democrat, we suppose) in a congressional race, and 41 percent saying they'd vote for Roger P. Republican. But you're as likely to be voting in a vacuum as you are to be voting on a vacuum. [Note: Roomba, but mostly because it confuses the cat.]
People usually don't vote for parties. They vote for people. If they vote at all.
Minnesotans tend to turn out in bigger numbers than just about any state. We won the participation ribbon in 2016 again, and an enormous primary turnout in August indicates enthusiam's running high: The 22.7 percent turnout was the state's biggest primary electorate since 1994.
Nearly two-thirds of the 900,000-some primary voters cast ballots for Democrats. Maybe that's because every elected Democrat in the state decided to play last-second musical chairs. Maybe, as DFLers would've told you then, it really does mean there's an "enthusiasm gap."
But "enthusiasm" in August doesn't win seats. Neither do positive polls in October. Curiosity kills the cat, and optimism kills progress.