Dayton expands KSTP poll lead; call him front-runner

“Front-runner” is a fraught designation in American politics. Despite the necessity of winning, not every candidate wants the title, worried that supporters relax while rivals intensify. And, of course, the only place to go is down.

But with the release of KSTP’s latest SurveyUSA poll, the media should feel comfortable calling Mark Dayton the front-runner, at least for now.

SUSA — which, if anything, leans GOP and nailed Tim Pawlenty’s tight-as-a-tick 2006 win — gives DFLer Dayton a 5-point lead over Republican Tom Emmer, 42 percent to 37 percent. That’s up from a 2-point margin a month ago.

Yes, the 5-point spread is within the 7.4-point margin of error (3.7 plus or minus). Reporter Tom Hauser notes it could be 41-38 Emmer, though it’s as statistically likely (or rather, unlikely) as 46-33 Dayton.

Still, it’s too cautious to write — as KSTP does in its web story — that “Minnesota’s race for governor remains without a clear front-runner.”

Dayton now leads in every major poll (Strib, SUSA, Rasmussen, MPR) by margins of 2 to 11 points. What’s more, every pollster has the DFLer’s margin expanding since late August.

I’d venture to add all three parties’ internal polls show Dayton leading. The Horner camp says this explicitly, though they have some interest in depressing Emmer’s expectations. When a GOP memo calls the race “essentially tied,” you know their guy isn’t in front.

I appreciate salt grains when it comes to polling, and leads don’t guarantee victory Nov. 2. (Remember, no survey had Pawlenty leading in October or November 2006.) But if polls are snapshots, right now they all show a smiling Dayton. KSTP makes things less clear for the public by soft-pedaling that.

Comments (7)

  1. Submitted by Bill Kellett on 10/15/2010 - 09:46 am.

    KSTP is supporting Emmer with it’s dollars and coverage. It’s just a business decision. Emmer has promised to eliminate corporate taxation to increase corporate profits. How could they argue with that?
    The payoff for voters; less revenue. Good thing there is no deficit.

  2. Submitted by Thomas Sherman on 10/15/2010 - 10:52 am.

    I believe the reason for Pawlenty defying all polls has to do with Hatch’s gaffe.

    If I remember correctly, Hatch called a KSTP reporter a Republican the weekend before the election. This would explain why Pawlenty won, and why no poll had Pawlenty ahead. Hatch screwed up so late in the game, that his gaffe hadn’t been reflected in the polls.

    If Hatch would have kept his mouth shut, he would have beat Pawlenty.

    Thus, the polls weren’t necessarily wrong. At that point in time they were probably correct. However, the game changed late, and no polls were conducted to show the change with such little time left in the campaign.

    Barring any such gaffe by Dayton, I would expect a Dayton win.

  3. Submitted by Thomas Sherman on 10/15/2010 - 11:01 am.

    My original post was edited. A word was cut out, even though it was accurate and not used maliciously.

    Here’s a repost so it reads properly.

    I believe the reason for Pawlenty defying all polls has to do with Hatch’s gaffe.

    If I remember correctly, Hatch called a KSTP reporter a Republican “bleep” the weekend before the election. This would explain why Pawlenty won, and why no poll had Pawlenty ahead. Hatch screwed up so late in the game that his gaffe hadn’t been reflected in the polls.

    If Hatch would have kept his mouth shut, he would have beat Pawlenty.

    Thus, the polls weren’t necessarily wrong. At that point in time they were probably correct. However, the game changed late, and no polls were conducted to show the change with such little time left in the campaign.

    Barring any such gaffe by Dayton, I would expect a Dayton win.

  4. Submitted by Steve Rose on 10/15/2010 - 01:01 pm.

    Let’s view polls in the proper perspective; it is the voters, not the pollsters that decide who wins the race.

    This interest in polls takes make back to about this time of the year in 1998. A Star-Tribune/KMSP-TV poll showed Humphrey with a 20 point lead over Coleman. It was 49% Humphrey, 29% Coleman, and 10% Ventura. The man with the 20 point lead came in last. I didn’t believe a poll could be that wrong. My bad.

  5. Submitted by Dave Kopesky on 10/15/2010 - 01:24 pm.

    A lot can change especially with the barrage of nasty ads attacking Dayton’s character the Emmer camp and their lackeys are likely to roll out in these last weeks. If I remember correctly Skip Humphrey was comfortably ahead of Ventura at this stage of the three way race they were in and we know who won in November.

  6. Submitted by John Jordan on 10/15/2010 - 01:52 pm.

    Want to see less revenue, just wait until wild-eyed Mark Dayton takes over. Tax increases means only a short term increase in revenue. The long term affects will be to increase the corporate tax revenues of South Dakota, not Minnesota. Meanwhile, Dayton will continue to increase spending and will find the only people left here to tax will be the few rich liberals left (even Dayton’s got money outside the state) and the “middle class” (what’s going to be left of it).

  7. Submitted by Brad Lundell on 10/15/2010 - 03:14 pm.

    It’s also important to remember Judi Dutcher’s brainlock a week before the election on E85 (or someting like that and how Pawlenty’s team made hay (or corn and soybeans)with that.

    I think the other dynamic is that Hutchinson probably got 90% of his votes from Democrats.

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