There's little doubt that if liberal author and radio host Al Franken goes ahead with plans to run against Bush pal Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., in 2008, the GOP will pull out all the stops to block his path. Former Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura -- who knows a thing or two about going from celebrity to politician in the land of ten thousand lakes -- told Salon last month that Franken should "look forward to having his entire past exposed," because Coleman is "going to have the Republican machine behind him 110 percent." But according to a new Minnesota Poll conducted by the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune, that Republican machine is losing serious ground with Minnesota voters. President Bush's approval rating among Minnesotans has plummeted to an all-time low of 42 percent, down nine points since January, and 55 percent of poll respondents said the country "has gotten seriously off on the wrong track."
That's good news for Franken's potential candidacy, and it could be good news for Democrats nationwide, too. Minnesotans' feelings may be a good barometer of the national mood -- no president has gotten this poor a report card from Minnesota voters since George H.W. Bush scored a 32 percent approval rating in 1992, one month before he lost his reelection bid to Bill Clinton. Then again, the next round of congressional elections is more than a year off -- and there is still a long, hard thaw ahead before Dems get the chance to see any payoff on the president's poor ratings in 2008.