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Latest poll on Obama-McCain, U.S. Senate races in Minnesota

A new poll shows Barack Obama opening up a double-digit lead (51-40)  in Minnesota, and Al Franken clinging to a small lead (38-36) over Norm Coleman in the U.S. Senate race, with Independence Party nominee Dean Barkley (18 percent) stagnating in the high teens.

The poll, taken by Quinnipiac University for the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal, is the latest in a series of check-ins with four battleground states: Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Colorado.

Overall, the news was all good for Obama, who showed a double-digit in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan and a nine-point lead in Colorado. Every poll over recent days has seemed to confirm Obama’s dominant position in the race for 270 electoral votes. If Obama carries every state in which he is currently leading, he would receive more than 360 electoral votes. Based on recent polls, Pollster.com has moved two more states that Republicans have carried in recent elections — West Virginia and North Dakota — into its toss-up category. There are only seven states, worth just 63 electoral votes, in the toss-up category on Pollster’s current map, and all of them are states that went Republican in the last two elections.

Quinnipiac did a double survey, interviewing more than 1,000 likely voters in each of the four swing states in the days just before last week’s presidential debate, then calling 1,000 more voters in the days just after the debate, with the last interviews completed Sunday. The results did not show a big change between pre-debate and post-debate surveys, but generally a slight increase in Obama’s lead. In Minnesota, for example, Obama led 51-43 pre-debate and 51-40 post debate. The other states were similar.

The Minnesota Senate race was a throw-in question on the survey, which was focused on the prez race. Quinnipiac found that in the pre-debate survey (Oct. 3-7), the Senate race stood:

Franken 39%
Coleman 37
Barkley 17

And post-debate, (Oct. 8-12) the results (plus partisan and gender breakdowns) came out:

Total Rep Dem Ind Men Wom
Franken 38% 4% 74% 32% 35% 41%
Coleman 36 81 6 32 39 34
Barkley 18 11 12 29 18 17

The margin for sampling error on this poll was plus/minus 3.1 percentage points, so Franken’s poll is not statistically insignificant. This makes the third consecutive poll showing Franken slightly ahead, according to the list of Minnesota Senate polls maintained by Pollster.com. Still, using its methodology for calculating a trend of recent polls, Pollster shows the race airtight at:

Franken: 40.0
Coleman: 39.2
Barkley: 16.0

Barkley has the best numbers of any third-party Senate candidate in the country, but has not yet had a public poll put his support at 20 percent.

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