|MN Women Take Another Look at Franken, Which Helps Democrat Catch Incumbent Republican Senator Coleman:
In an election for United States Senator from Minnesota today, 10/19/08, 16 days till votes are counted, incumbent Republican Norm Coleman and DFL candidate Al Franken finish even, according to a SurveyUSA poll conducted exclusively for KSTP-TV in Minneapolis, WDIO-TV in Duluth, KAAL-TV in Rochester, and KSAX-TV in Alexandria. Officially, it's Coleman 41%, Franken 39%, Independence Party candidate Dean Barkley 18%. Coleman's 2-point advantage may or may not have statistical significance. It is within the survey's margin of sampling error. SurveyUSA urges those who report these results to characterize the race as fiercely fought, with every vote vital, but to resist the temptation based on these results alone to state that Coleman "leads." Both candidates are well positioned to win. 3rd-Party candidate Barkley is well-positioned to spoil. Compared to an identical SurveyUSA tracking poll 17 days ago, Franken is up 6, Coleman is down 2, Barkley is down 1.
Among Democrats, Franken's support had dipped to 65% in SurveyUSA's most recent poll. Today, it is back up to 74%. Among Independents, Coleman had led Franken by 13 points, today leads Franken by 4. Among women, Franken had trailed Coleman by 7 points, now leads Coleman by 4, a swing of 11 to the Democratic challenger. Among men, Coleman is steady at 43% and leading in SurveyUSA's past 3 polls. Coleman and Franker are tied in the Twin Cities and effectively tied in Western MN and Northeastern MN. Coleman leads in Southern MN.
The presence of a strong 3rd-party candidate makes the race uniquely difficult to handicap. Barkley represented Minnesota in the US Senate for two months following the death of Paul Wellstone in 2002. Support for "fringe" candidates sometimes collapses during the final days of a campaign, but Barkley has been in double digits in all SurveyUSA polls conducted since Labor Day, and cannot be dismissed as "fringe." Barkley today is at or above 20% among young voters, Independents, moderates, those who did not attend college, pro-choice voters, those with incomes less than $50,000 a year, and in Northeast and Southern Minnesota. It is difficult to know if, during the final 2 weeks, Barkley supporters stay with Barkley, switch to Coleman, switch to Franken, or stay home.