Michele Bachmann's Seat in Peril As House Race Tightens

Michele Bachmann Goes From Presidential Primaries to Reelection Dogfight

It's all added up to a closer race than anyone could have expected. In recent weeks, the Rothenberg Political Report shifted their characterization from "Safe Republican" to "Republican Favored."

But even with her opponent appearing to gain momentum, Bachmann will take comfort in the electorate's new demographics.

Redistricting done this year pushed urban areas east of St. Paul, with their Democratic-leaning voters, off Bachmann's map, while adding to the western suburbs where Republicans traditionally score big, boosting the incumbent's built-in advantages. Graves, meanwhile, is banking on big support from hometown St. Cloud, the district's largest city, and the estimated 27,000 college students eligible to vote in November.

The campaign has also retained a field director, Ray Hoover, who worked for President Obama's 2008 campaign, hoping to channel the president's vaunted, micro-targeting ground game.

Bachmann, a national figure who left the presidential race after finishing sixth in January's Republican caucuses, also benefits from a significant lead in the fundraising game. By mid-July, the MinnPost reported she had taken in nearly five times as much as the Democrat.

Her office did not respond to repeated requests for comment on this story, nor have they reported any internal polling numbers.

The question now for Graves, as the vote nears, is how much of his significant personal wealth he'll pour into the campaign. That figure ranged between $22 and $111 million according to House financial disclosure documents.

Graves wouldn't reveal a specific outlay, but did say he expected that 25-30 percent of his campaign expenses would come from his own pocket. If the race stays as close as his internal pollsters indicate, don't be surprised to see the candidate dig even deeper.

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