Who is Bob Anderson? Michele Bachmann’s best friend

Bob’s theory of politics in Minnesota is if you put an Independence Party candidate not named Jesse Ventura on a ballot, Republicans win.

Independence Party fans hate me for saying that but for the most part, it’s true.

They can logically point to Al Franken’s Senate race tonight — so far — as proof the theory doesn’t stand up.

And I’ll counter with Bob Anderson, a veritable unknown who is clearly pulling votes from Elwyn Tinklenberg tonight, paving the way — again, so far — for Michele Bachmann.

As of 9:19 p.m., a quarter of the vote has been counted and Anderson has been consistent with 10-percent of the vote.

That’s a stunning performance, especially when you consider the Independence Party of Minnesota — normally desperate for candidates — didn’t endorse Anderson. In 2006, John Binkowski, who ran a spirited campaign, got his party endorsement, and was invited to participate in debates, scored only 7.8% of the vote.

(Following section updated 9:59 p.m.)

What’s happening here? The Minnesota “Anderson effect.” Candidates named Anderson will get votes from voters who don’t know much about the candidates. I’ve written before about Sharon Anderson’s capturing of the Republican primary for Attorney General in the ’90s, a surprising win that had even the GOP disavowing her. She put up a strong fight in the last election in Minnesota, but she was running against a guy named Johnson.

Pat Awada claimed the state auditor job a few years ago, after she started using her maiden name in the campaign — Anderson. After a divorce, she lost the battle for re-election as Pat Anderson. The Anderson effect is not inviolate.