Because of Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s strong position at the beginning of the cycle, Roll Call Politics has moved the Minnesota Senate race from Leans Democratic to the less competitive Likely Democratic.
A former county attorney, Klobuchar defeated Republican Rep. Mark Kennedy in the open 2006 Senate race by 20 points and remains popular in the Gopher State. An early December survey from the Democratic-leaning firm Public Policy Polling found she had a 59 percent approval rating and a 29 percent disapproval rating. Her closest potential Republican competitor, former Gov. Tim Pawlenty, would lose to her by 10 points, the poll discovered. It had a margin of error of 3.2 points.
Early in the cycle, Republicans are struggling to find a candidate who could defeat Klobuchar. Although several Republicans are considering the race, none has announced his or her candidacy. The Republican strategy is to tie Klobuchar to her less popular, more liberal counterpart, Sen. Al Franken, who narrowly defeated Republican Sen. Norm Coleman in 2008.
Republicans argue that Minnesota is trending to the right, and the possibility of having a Minnesotan on the presidential ticket — either Pawlenty or Rep. Michele Bachmann — would help in 2012.