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Poll: Franken has an early lead over potential 2014 challengers

The poll of 1,000 Minnesotans puts Franken’s approval rating at 52 percent.

U.S. Sen. Al Franken, whose narrow victory in 2008 lead many political observers to label him a potential Republican target in 2014, has sizable early leads over a cast of potential challengers, according to a new poll from Public Policy Polling.

The survey of more than 1,000 voters showed Franken with a 52 percent approval rating and leads between 8 and 14 points over Minnesota’s three Republican U.S. House members. Reps. Erik Paulsen (who trails Franken by 11 percent) and John Kline (8 percent) have left the door open to a potential Senate run in 2014. Michele Bachmann (14 percent) has been quiet about her future plans.

Franken has had a 50 percent approval rating or higher in three of the last five polls conducted in Minnesota. No Republican has yet announced a challenge to the first-term Senator, though former Sen. Norm Coleman has said he won’t seek a rematch with Franken after his 312 vote defeat in 2008.

(In a hypothetical match-up between the two, Franken would lead 50 percent to 44 percent. He won in ’08 with about 42 percent of the vote.)

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Public Policy Polling showed 45 percent of Minnesota Republicans would back Bachmann if she chose to run in a Republican Senate primary (though, as a caveat, PPP’s sample of GOP primary voters was a tiny 275). Her overall favorability rating in the state is 35 percent.

Public Policy Polling is a Democratically-aligned auto-dial pollster known for its accuracy. Its conclusion after releasing today’s poll: “It’s early in the cycle but at least for now Al Franken does not appear to be among the more vulnerable incumbent Senators next year.”

Devin Henry can be reached at