So you probably heard by now, Jesse (The Ego) Ventura is not running for the Senate (although, given the number of times he told poor, confused Larry King that he could still change his mind if he hears from God before the filing deadline [but he won’t because he’s not religious enough], I wouldn’t close the book on it till 5 p.m.). (And by the way, happy 57th birthday to the former governor.)
But assuming no divine intervention, two polls released Monday gave very different portrayals of where the race stands if it’s just Norm Coleman vs. Al Franken.
SurveyUSA has Coleman leading 52-39 percent. Rasmussen Reports has it Franken 44, Coleman 42.
In other words, based on these two data points, no one knows anything. There’s reason to be cautious about both polls.
Rasmussen completed its poll Thursday with 500 likely voters. SUSA reached 641 registered voters Friday-Sunday. Both companies use robotic interviews. The last poll to use human-to-human interviews (Quinnipiac University for the Washington Post) had it Coleman 51, Franken 41 three weeks ago.
In both polls, Coleman does better among Democrats than Franken does among Republicans, which has been a consistent problem for Franken. But Rasmussen, which doesn’t release full cross-tabs to non-members like me, suggests that Coleman’s share of Democrats has declined from 20 to 10 percent and that this may be the factor that cost him the lead he held a month ago.
SUSA has shown little change since its previous poll on the race a month earlier. The most suspicious thing to me about SUSA’s current poll is that the Minnesota sample consisted of 33 percent Democrats and 32 percent Republicans. Most polls (including the previous SUSA poll in Minnesota) find that Democrats outnumber Republicans by 10-plus percentage points. The poll scholars on whom I rely for guidance tend to have a higher general opinion of SUSA than Rasmussen (and not too high an opinion of any robo-dialers). But if you’re looking for a reason to disbelieve this one, with its large and sturdy Coleman lead, the partisan makeup of the sample is suspicious.
Still, within the partisan, ideological and demographic categories, there plenty of trouble spots for Franken in the SUSA poll. Coleman leads among both genders, all age groups and all regions of the state. Coleman carries Repubs by 94-6, compared with Franken’s 77-15 among Dems (with 8 percent of Dems undecided). Coleman carries self-identified independents by 45-39 percent and “moderates” by a narrow 48-44 percent. Coleman also does better among conservatives (84 percent) than Franken does among liberals (79).