I spoke yesterday with Stuart Rosenberg, as he was driving across Ohio. (Rosenberg has been hired as Ashwin Madia's new campaign manager.) Yesterday was moving day for Rosenberg, necessitating his drive from DC to MN.
Madia's name recognition now likely trails Paulsen's considerably. (Rather odd that Bodell would run with a rumor to the effect that Madia leads Paulsen by five points in a [likely non-existent] Paulsen-arranged poll.) Were a good poll conducted today--surveying likely CD3 voters on who they'd vote for--Paulsen would probably come out significantly ahead. If such a poll instead asked likely voters whether they would prefer a Democrat or a Republican to be their next congressional representative, I would still expect the result to favor Paulsen. Madia might win this thing in November, imho, but he's got a lot of work to do between now and then.
In the precinct caucuses held on February 5, CD3 Democratic participants outnumbered Republicans by more than three to one. Widespread grassroots participation is what got Madia the endorsement; the party leadership didn't simply prefer Terri Bonoff--they didn't even think Madia merited a hearing. And the general consensus among DFL pooh-bahs remains skeptical concerning the Madia pick; like MSM political journalists, few have made any attempt to learn why CD3 DFL activists selected Madia over Bonoff--and by such a wide margin. (Far easier to ascribe the selection to activist immaturity or irrationality, wrong though such an ascription would be.)
Ashwin's ability to impress and excite a large group of DFL activists is what got him the endorsement; getting Ash elected in November will only happen if that field operation proves capable of massively expanding and deepening. For Madia to win, he has to orchestrate an explosion of grass roots excitement and participation unlike anything previously seen in a CD3 congressional race.
So that's the challenge for Stuart Rosenberg--activating and expanding the Madia volunteer corps. Getting neighbors, friends and family talking up Madia to each other, getting CD3 residents informed on who Ashwin is. Making those blue t-shirts ubiquitous. Rosenberg views the top issues in the race as being the economy, Iraq and health care. It is especially important for Madia to establish his willingness to work productively with people from across the aisle. (Madia's past life as a Republican should work to his benefit in this regard.)
Rosenberg believes that the congressional race will be perceived as distinct from the presidential and senatorial contests, and thinks CD3 voters are more likely to view them independently than voters elsewhere in the state, with plenty of ticket-splitting.