Poll: Four-way tie in Minneapolis mayor’s race

The Minneapolis mayor’s race lacks anything resembling a front-runner, according to the first public poll conducted in the contest.

Less than two months before election day, no candidate musters more than a meager 16 percent of first-choice votes, the Star Tribune reports.

City Council Member Don Samuels and former Council President Dan Cohen were tied for first place in the poll with 16 percent apiece. Council Member Betsy Hodges had 14 percent, followed by former Hennepin County Board Chair Mark Andrew with 10 percent.

Samuels, Cohen, Hodges and Andrew’s results all fell within the survey’s 3.5 percent margin of error.

Even without that four-way tie, it’s still impossible to extrapolate who’d win the election if it were held today based on the poll results the newspaper released. Minneapolis uses a system called ranked choice voting, which takes into account voters’ second and third choices in calculating a winner.

Samuels led the second choice race, followed closely by Cohen, who has poured $285,000 of his own money into the campaign. But without knowing those voters’ first choices, there’s no way to simulate the rounds of “instant runoffs” that would be used to choose the next mayor.

The poll comes as bad news for Andrew, who many political observers perceived as the frontrunner. Andrew’s campaign told the Strib its own polling puts him in first place.

Republican-leaning independent Cam Winton also has cause for concern based on the demographic breakdown of the poll results. It shows Winton capturing just 10 percent of the city’s already paltry supply of Republican votes.

Samuels, a DFLer whose campaign has attracted some big-name Republican donors, led the chase for GOP support in the poll. Winton came in 5th place among Republicans polled, even though he has the support of the local party.

It’s important to note that the margin of error for demographic sub-groups is higher than it is for the poll as a whole. The smaller the sample, the bigger the potential for error. Given that Republicans made up less than a fifth of Minneapolis voters in the last election, that could be a pretty big error.