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SurveyUSA/KSTP gubernatorial poll: Emmer within 1

Let’s just say Tom Emmer’s day ended better than it started.

In the morning, MPR released a Humphrey Institute poll showing DFL Mark Dayton leading Republican Emmer 41 percent to 29 percent. But KSTP’s 10 p.m. news featured a SurveyUSA poll that showed Dayton leading Emmer by just 1 point, 39-38. Tom Horner has 13 percent.

Dayton’s lead is within any margin of sampling error. The 624-likely-voter poll was conducted Sunday through Wednesday. 

The SUSA survey — which included cell-phone-only (CPO) voters for the first time — was sweet vindication for the Emmer campaign, which released an internal poll during the day showing the race tied 40-40.

Unlike the Humphrey Institute poll, where the partisan breakdown was 45 Democrat, 39 Republican, SUSA had more Rs than Ds: 35-33, with 33 percent independents. Horner took slightly more Democratic votes (13 percent) than Republican (11 percent).

The SUSA poll also had a 50-50 male-female breakdown. In 2008, women voters outnumbered men 53-47, the same split in the MPR/HHH poll. Still, it’s not a fixed number. As usual, women favored the Democrat (42-35 Dayton) and men the Republican (42-36 Emmer).

The CPO factor — which required the robo-polling SUSA to use live operators — didn’t really move the needle: Dayton and Emmer tied 35-35.

Although CPOs now represent 25 percent of households, they made up only 15 percent of SUSA’s sample. That’s reasonable, since CPOs are typically younger and less likely to vote.

A couple of SUSA surveys in other states also showed no real difference when CPOs were added. The Star Tribune’s pollster has Dayton picking up 5 points this summer from CPOs; nationally, Democrats pick up 0 to 4 points. In SUSA’s case, they were 2 points more pro-Emmer than land line voters.

On the newscast, KSTP’s Tom Hauser touted’s high pollster rating for SUSA. However, on Thursday, FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver wrote that automated polls such as SUSA’s have a Republican “house effect” — in SUSA’s case, 4 points Republican.

Silver notes that “house effect” is only in relation to other polls. Polls that use exclusively human interviewers, like the Strib’s and MPR’s, are on the Democratic side of the ledger. Silver says his model splits the difference, but one side might be right.

The Minnesota history of SUSA final polls offers something for partisans of either stripe.

SUSA has recently underestimated Democratic margins by 5 to 7 points. The pollster gave Barack Obama a 3-point Minnesota margin in the 2008 presidential race; he won by 10. In the 2006 U.S. Senate race, SUSA had Amy Klobuchar up 16; she won by 21. And in the 2008 U.S. Senate race, the pollster gave Norm Coleman a 5-point lead; that was a dead heat.

On the flip side, SUSA nailed the last Minnesota governor’s race. The pollster had Tim Pawlenty and Mike Hatch tied in 2006. Pawlenty squeaked out a 1-point win.

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Comments (9)

  1. Submitted by Christa Moseng on 10/29/2010 - 07:27 am.

    Any poll that turns up more self-identified Republicans than Democrats in this state has got a problem, because it just isn’t representative of the population. Which isn’t to say that the MPR poll got a more accurate sample–it’s fair to guess that the truth is somewhere between the two.

    This race will tighten as Horner’s soft support erodes, which has been more conservative than liberal. Two things will make the difference in this race: (1) how many principled moderate conservatives decide to vote their conscience rather than their party, and stick with Horner; and (2) do Democrats make it to the polls.

    The KSTP poll showing a tight race, regardless of its accuracy, could have an effect on the latter.

  2. Submitted by Dean Carlson on 10/29/2010 - 08:52 am.

    Yes SUSA nailed the 2006 Gub race but I would argue they lucked into it. The last few days of that race saw a lot of independents go to the R’s after Dutcher’s E85 gaffe and Hatch’s Republican Whore remark. I don’t think SUSA caught that and if Hatch and Dutcher had just been a little more disciplined, could have won that race by a couple of percentage points. I would say the SUSA repuation as being 4 points in favor of R’s is well-earned.

  3. Anonymous Submitted by Anonymous on 10/29/2010 - 09:11 am.

    SurveyUSA and KSTP have really put their reputations on the line with this poll. If they are right they will get big gains in their credibility. But if they are wrong it reinforces the notion of both as being in the pocket of the Republicans, and of their polls being little more than spin.

  4. Submitted by Lora Jones on 10/29/2010 - 09:50 am.

    Amen, Mr. Levine

  5. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 10/29/2010 - 09:55 am.

    Sorry, but I would regard any poll sponsored by Stan Hubbard to be suspect, very well known for his support of one side of the political spectrum.

  6. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 10/29/2010 - 09:58 am.

    And by the way, you can gain a lot of business if you’re willing to crunch the numbers in a poll to favor a particular side just a few days before an election. Considering the short memory and attnetion span of the public and the media, whether you were right or wrong last time will be long forgotten by the next time around.

  7. Submitted by Brian Simon on 10/29/2010 - 11:24 am.

    Christopher Moseng writes
    “This race will tighten as Horner’s soft support erodes, which has been more conservative than liberal.”

    Not really. IP candidates tend to have a statewide floor of 10-12%, which is about where Horner is now (MPR says 11; SUSA says 13). The gap is among undecideds, which MPR has at a whopping 20%, a huge number for a week before election day. Even SUSA shows 17%, still very, very high. That gap would seemingly be mostly the moderates who voted for Pawlenty, but can’t bring themselves to vote for Emmer; Dayton has a much smaller gap vs Hatch.

    If you take the undecideds out, MPR has the score at 50 to 36 to 14; SUSA says 43 to 42 to 14 (less than 100 due to rounding). I’ll go out on a limb and predict final results to be around 47 to 41 to 12.

  8. Submitted by Richard Schulze on 10/29/2010 - 08:12 pm.

    I think folk will be up late into the night for the results. Rep. Emmer and Senator Dayton are probably closer than the Senator would like to be at this late date.

  9. Submitted by Kyle Shiely on 11/03/2010 - 02:15 am.

    I hope all the Hubbard Haters come back and admit they were wrong and praise the Survey USA/KSTP poll for nailing the race dead on once again. At the end of the day, who are you going to believe, The Star Tribune’s Minnesota poll, which has been wrong on every election in the past 10 years, The MPR/Humphrey poll that had Dayton up 12%, or the Survey USA poll that has nailed it twice in a row?

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