WASHINGTON — A Democratic super PAC put out a poll Thursday showing not just a close race in Minnesota’s 2nd District, but one in which Democratic challenger Mike Obermueller could be leading Republican Rep. John Kline.
Obermueller had a 42-38 lead in the poll, paid for by the liberal House Majority PAC, and Kline’s favorability and job approval numbers are both underwater. Obermueller’s lead is just outside the margin of error. Kline beat Obermueller last year by eight points.
It’s important not to give too much weight to one poll, especially one paid for by a Democratic group, conducted by a Democratic polling firm and taken more than a year before Election Day. But the poll does seem to jibe with those nationally showing a general “blame Republicans” mood in the wake of this month’s government shutdown.
There’s also this: The Cook Political Report published an article last week assigning Republican incumbents a series of potential re-election “risk factors.” Of the five factors, Kline had four: Two based on his district’s partisan ranking (favoring Republicans just slightly) one for a 2012 vote share under 55 percent (he finished with 54.01) and one for the Obermueller campaign’s bankroll ($119,000, which, it should be noted, pales in comparison to Kline’s $1.3 million campaign fund). Only 12 other Republicans nationally had four of Cook’s risk factors.
To be sure, Cook still ranks the Kline race as “Likely Republican,” or one step away from being taken off the competitive list altogether — the same goes for House analyses at the Rothenberg Political Report and the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics.
So while the handicappers who rate races professionally say Kline’s probably safe, at least for now, there seems to be enough here to keep an eye on the 2nd District race as the campaign moves forward.
Devin Henry can be reached at email@example.com.