Republican U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann has a 9 point lead over DFL challenger Jim Graves, according to a new poll from KSTP and SurveyUSA.
Fifty percent of the poll’s 598 respondents support Bachmann’s re-election bid, according to KSTP. Forty-one percent back Graves, and 9 percent are undecided.
An equal number of respondents have either a favorable or unfavorable opinion of Bachmann (40 percent each). Only 55 percent of respondents had an opinion of Graves, split nearly evenly between favorable and unfavorable.
Independent voters are statistically split between Bachmann and Graves, according to KSTP, but the district has a pronounced Republican lean (it has a Partisan Voter Index rating of R+8 and John McCain won 54.7 percent of the vote in the newly-redrawn 6th in 2008), giving Bachmann her lead.
In the presidential race, Mitt Romney leads President Obama 53 percent to 36 percent in the district.
The poll is the first independent survey of the race. It comes the same day national Democrats added Graves to their “Red to Blue” list of competitive races, meaning he hit fundraising or organizational benchmarks opening him up to more support from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. The race was recently moved from “Likely Republican” to “Lean Republican” by the Cook Political Report handicappers.
Update: The Graves campaign disputes the KSTP poll as “nothing but an aberration,” and released internal numbers that show Graves within 2 points of Bachmann. The Graves poll (a survey of 403 likely voters, conducted the first week of October with a 4.9 percent margin of error), has Bachmann up 47 percent to 45 percent, an identical margin as internal polls in June and August.
Devin Henry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org