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Early poll shows close race between Bachmann and Graves

Rep. Michele Bachmann
REUTERS/Sean GardnerRep. Michele Bachmann

WASHINGTON — The first public poll of the Rep. Michele Bachmann-Jim Graves 6th District rematch shows an essentially tied race between the two.

The poll gives Graves a slight lead, 47 percent to 45 percent, but that’s well within the poll’s 4.4 percent margin of error. About half of the poll’s 500 respondents hold an unfavorable view of Bachmann, according to Public Policy Polling, a Democratic firm that conducted the poll for the Graves campaign.

A two-point lead is statistically insignificant, which makes the poll fairly consistent with the results of last November’s elections, when Bachmann defeated Graves by 1.2 percent. The poll’s partisan breakdown was: 39 percent Republican, 29 percent Democratic, 32 percent independent (The 6th District is considered the most Republican-leaning in Minnesota).

In response to the poll, Bachmann spokesman Dan Kotman said: "Democrat Jim Graves can buy all the polls from Democrat firms that he wants, but it won't change the fact that he is in lockstep with the Obama-Pelosi agenda and out of touch with the 6th District."

Bachmann hit the airwaves last week with a TV ad highlighting House passage of her Affordable Care Act repeal bill, amid a growing investigation into potential campaign finance violations by her 2012 presidential campaign. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee recently added Graves to a program meant to help support its top challengers.

Some caveats: This is an internal poll for the Graves campaign, conducted by a Democratic firm using an automated telephone survey of only 500 voters. All that said, PPP is a very respected pollster (it performed especially well in Minnesota last November).

Here are the poll’s crosstabs.

Devin Henry can be reached at dhenry@minnpost.com.

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Comments (6)

So how many people did they have to call to get 500 ?

The crosstabs show the distribution of answers (assumably 500 per question). I ALSO want to know how many total calls were made, and how many surveys were aborted before conclusion. This firm knows these numbers - Devin, please ask them to provide and please make them available here.

It's early

But the poll suggests the possibility that the long 6th District nightmare could come to an end in 2014. Just MO.

Don't get too excited

This is the same polling outfit that had Democratic candidate Elizabeth Colbert Busch leading Republican Mark Sanford by nine points in a South Carolina Congressional race Sanford won 54-45 percent a mere two weeks later. Results showing a presumed underdog Democrat is close or leading is a typical practice of left-wing polling organizations such as Public Policy Polling and the Minnesota Poll. The reason is that it is much easier for the candidate to attract volunteers and financial support with good poll numbers early in the campaign when it is most important. Then, right before the election, the pollster provides numbers closer to the actual results to maintain credibility. That is exactly what PPP did when its results showed Sanford winning by only one point the day before the election. The Minnesota Poll has used that practice with Minnesota statewide candidates for years.

Sampling error

My guess is you're trying to make polling error fit your worldview. Nate Silver has shown that one poll is of little use but averaging a series of polls with different methodologies can be quite powerful. This is just the first data point and the last election fits within it's margin of error.

Purpose

John Edwards makes an excellent point about the results of the recent PPP poll discussed in this article. Who conducts the poll, who is paying for the poll, and the purpose of the poll are important in determining its validity. All of these factor into the structure of the questions and the sampling methodology -- and ultimately affect poll reliability.

But stating that the Minnesota Poll has the same flaws as PPP polling is a leap of logic which seems to stem more from personal ideology rather than fact. The accuracy of that poll based on election results alone suggest a degree of objectivity well beyond what Mr. Edwards casually refers to as "that practice".

Fiscal conservatism

So far the cost of the GOP's 37 (failed) attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act have cost the taxpayers an estimated $53 million. I fail to see how this falls into Ms Bachmann's proclaimed ideal of small, nonintrusive, non-wasteful government. But then, sanity has never been her strong point.