Poll: Franken and Dayton ahead in re-election races

WASHINGTON – A Democratic polling firm says DFL Sen. Al Franken and DFL Gov. Mark Dayton have strong leads against a field of relatively unknown Republican rivals almost a year out from Election Day 2014.

Public Policy Polling’s phone survey of 895 Minnesota voters found Franken with a 51 percent percent approval rating while 43 percent of those surveyed didn’t approve of Franken’s work. Those numbers are close to what PPP found when it last polled Minnesota in May. Dayton has a 48 percent approval rating with 42 percent of the surveyed voters disapproving of the job he’s doing.

Franken leads by double digits against all of the Republicans running against him with Chris Dahlberg coming closest, drawing 39 percent support to Franken’s 49 percent. None of the GOP candidates had more than 25 percent name recognition and PPP’s Tom Jensen notes the Republicans have the opportunity to gain support as they become better known.

Dayton’s position closely resemble’s Franken’s. He also leads his closest opponent, Scott Honour, by 10 points, 48 percent to 38 percent.

The firm oversampled likely Republican primary voters in an attempt to get a better sense of their preferences for a general election candidate. The conclusion: there is no consensus. More than half of voters were unsure who they would support for the U.S. Senate race. State Rep. Jim Abeler and state Sen. Julianne Ortman led the pack with 12 percent support apiece. Mike McFadden had the support of 11 percent of voters, Chris Dahlber 10 percent and Monti Moreno 2 percent.

It’s the same story for the governor’s race. Kurt Zellers draws 12 percent support, while Dave Thompson gets 11 percent, Julie Rosen gets 10 percent, 9 percent for Marty Seifert, 8 percent for Jeff Johnson and 6 percent for Scott Honour.

PPP also asked voters what they thought about President Barack Obama and DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar. Both have seen their approval ratings drop since May though Obama’s ratings are much worse. Voters disapprove of the job he’s doing 47 percent to 49 percent. Klobuchar remains one of the most popular senators in the U.S. with 59 percent approving of the job she’s doing but that’s a drop from the 61 percent approval that she notched back in May. Jensen notes most of that drop comes from Republican voters and suggests that voters have become more polarized since the government shutdown.

The poll has a 3.3 percent margin of error.

PPP works almost exclusively for Democratic candidates and groups but conducted this poll on its own.  For what it’s worth, last year PPP accurately showed now-U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan, a Democrat, ahead in his campaign to unseat former Republican U.S. Rep. Chip Cravaack in the 8th District, though it forecast a tighter race than the actual outcome.