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Poll: Cravaack and Nolan virtually tied in 8th District race

Nolan has a one-point lead over Cravaack in the first independent poll of the race this cycle.

Republican U.S. Rep. Chip Cravaack and DFL challenger Rick Nolan are statistically tied in their 8th Congressional District race, according to a new poll from KSTP and SurveyUSA.

Forty-six percent of the poll’s respondents support Nolan, while 45 percent side with Cravaack, according to the poll. Nolan’s lead is well within the poll’s margin of error. Nine percent are undecided.

Nolan leads big with those over 50 years old and on the issue of Medicare. Cravaack leads with those under 50 and, marginally, on the matter of mining and creating jobs in the district. He leads Nolan 53 percent to 36 percent with independent voters.

Forty percent of respondents have no opinion of Nolan, compared with 28 percent for Cravaack. Despite a barrage of negative ads in the race, both have net positive favorable ratings.

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In the presidential race, Republican Mitt Romney leads President Obama by 2 points (47 percent to 45 percent) in a district that gave Obama 53 percent of the vote in 2008. Romney is winning independents 53 percent to 43 percent (Full poll results are here).

The Nolan campaign released an internal poll Thursday morning showing him with a slight lead in the race.

The 8th District race is expected to be the most competitive in Minnesota this fall, and it’s one of the most hotly contested House races nationally as well. Cravaack, a first-term congressman, knocked off long-time Democratic Rep. Jim Oberstar in 2010 during a Republican wave election; the district tends to favor Democratic candidates.

SurveyUSA polled 578 likely voters by phone from Sunday to Tuesday. The margin of error is 4.2 percent percent.

Devin Henry can be reached at