New poll results on Minnesota’s Senate race

A fresh SurveyUSA KSTP-TV poll on Minnesota’s U.S. Senate race shows incumbent Sen. Norm Coleman and his likely DFL challenger Al Franken in a virtual tie (47-46 percent for Coleman with a margin for sampling error of plus or minus 3.9 percentage points).

The same poll delivers a blow to attorney Mike Ciresi’s electability argument. Ciresi, who is competing against Franken for the DFL endorsement, has argued that, in part because of Franken’s high negative ratings in past favorability polls, he is the DFLer more likely to defeat Coleman.

This survey finds that if the election were held today and Ciresi was the DFL nominee, Coleman would be reelected 50-41 percent.

Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer, a professor of peace and justice studies at the University of St. Thomas, who is also seeking the DFL endorsement, loses to Coleman by 58-30. Another recent entrant into the DFL field, Darryl Stanton, loses to Coleman in this trial heat matchup by 58-29.

The survey of 650 registered voters was taken Sunday and Monday. The results were unveiled Wednesday night on KSTP’s evening news broadcast. SurveyUSA uses robotic voice interviews, which some pollsters believe is a less reliable technology than human-to-human interviews.

Looking at the crosstabs of the Coleman-Franken matchup (PDF), here are a couple things that jump out at me:

In the total sample, 37 percent identified themselves as Democrats, 29 percent as Republicans and 23 percent as independents. Confirmation that all Republicans face a strong headwind in statewide races.

In the total sample, just 15 percent describes themselves as liberals, compared with 30 percent conservative and 39 percent moderate. Despite the Dem surge, the L-word is not making much of a comeback.

Franken wins solidly (54-37) among self-described moderates.

Coleman wins solidly (53-39) among independents. If Franken ever starts splitting the independents more evenly, Coleman is toast. But that’s a big if.

Coleman beats Franken 52-39 among voters age 18-34. What’s up with that?

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Comments (6)

  1. Submitted by John E Iacono on 02/15/2008 - 05:31 pm.

    I pretty much agree with Bernice that the debates will matter — a lot.

    I believe there may be a connection between the Independents group (53-39) and the young voters group (52-39).

    If young voters who are calling themselves independents (because they are skeptical of both parties?) come out in large numbers in the general to support Obama, this may be good for Coleman, perversely.

    Younger voters are more likely to say “Who?” or “Old School” when seeing Franken, unless debates make it clear he does know something and is not just more of the same old “hate your brother” diet of which most people have had quite enough.

  2. Submitted by Mike Haubrich on 02/15/2008 - 09:57 pm.

    I am not sure what John Iacono is saying here about “hate your brother.” Are you saying that Franken is a nasty, vicious, empty headed superstar trying to rise to power? Apparently you have paid little attention to him.

    Al Franken, as a writer and as a radio host, has not shied from pointing out the faults of the poor Republican leadership we have gotten from Norm Coleman in the last 6 years. He has not shied from pointing out the horrible, freedom-suppressing leadership we have gotten from the White House in the last 7 years from the White House in the last six years. He has not shied from pointing out how the Republicans almost destroyed Social Security in favor of Wall Street (with some cheerleading from our senior senator.) He has not shied from demonstrating that we were lied into a war.

    And for this Iacono calls what Franken says “hate your brother?” What the Senate needs is someone who is not going to back down to lying liars. What Minnesota needs is someone who can tell the Truth, with jokes. And the poll indicates that Minnesotans are going to be ready to listen this year.

    Bernice, it’s only February. The Senate DFL nominee endorsement will be in June. There will be plenty of time for debates.

  3. Submitted by Bernice Vetsch on 02/15/2008 - 11:37 am.

    I believe this poll, like the recent MPR/UofM poll, is skewed by the fact that St. Paul has yet to be the site of a senate candidates debate. Two were scheduled, but Al Franken developed scheduling conflicts of some sort and the debates were cancelled.

    By caucus night, many of the folks in my Mac-Groveland neighborhood caucus had yet to hear Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer speak OR to hear him, Mr. Ciresi and any other candidate debate Mr. Franken. This lack has created a corresponding lack of what Franken’s opponents have to offer, especially Nelson-Pallmeyer, who is the hands-down winner of debates wherever in Minnesota they are offered.

  4. Submitted by Bernice Vetsch on 02/16/2008 - 02:25 pm.

    Mike Haubrich: Thanks, but my concern is that the two polls so far and those to come before the convention will all be skewed as long as those being polled are unfamiliar with Franken’s competition. As long as the polls (and the media which report them) seem to indicate Franken’s “inevitability,” delegates to the District and State conventions may be influenced by what seems to be a done deal.

  5. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 02/18/2008 - 11:08 pm.

    “Coleman beats Franken 52-39 among voters age 18-34. What’s up with that? ”

    Too many people in that age group use cell phones as their primary communication device — targeted phone polling misses them.

  6. Submitted by John E Iacono on 02/29/2008 - 12:46 pm.


    I am referring to the kind of attack campaigning that Hillary has been using to her disadvantage vs Obama.

    While that stuff may be fine for gripe sessions, it puts off people who are sick and tired of the slash and burn politics of the insiders in Washington and here.

    When politicians with a straight face insist they are not engaging in pure retribution (e.g. Molnau fiasco), people turn away from the TV in disgust: we all know better, and turn away from the petty infighting with distaste.

    When politicians engineer misleading suggestions that someone is a closet Al Quaida supporter, people conclude that the opponent is either totally ineffective at controllher her campaign or is just plain engaging in politics as usual.

    My picture of a democratic republic has our elected officials functioning as “rational minds engaged in reasoned debate,” – a scene in desperately short supply in our congress and legislature of late.

    If I thought it would do any good, I’d be in favor of throwing out the entire present population of office holders with a very few exceptions, and trying to start from scratch.

    If you think Franken is funny, I suspect you are part of the “in” crowd of which most of us are so weary.

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