The wags have been suggesting in the last 24 hours that Norm Coleman must have internal polling showing he’s in trouble. The latest MPR/U of M Humphrey Institute poll, however, doesn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know: Coleman is in a close race with Al Franken and Dean Barkley is in a position to play spoiler.
Franken holds a 41-to-37-percent lead over Coleman, within the poll’s margin of error. Franken isn’t exactly burning it up out there. His support, while 5% higher than it was in our poll two weeks ago, is exactly where it was in mid-August.
The wild card, however, is Barkley who has gained 9-percent since August. He’s also picked up 3-percent in the last two weeks, significant because by around now, Independence Party candidates (not named Ventura) tend to lose their way with voters.
Coleman has lost only 1 percent since the last survey, which indicates to me that Franken and Barkley split the undecided vote from the last survey.
Here are the major findings: Franken is propelled by the same things that propelled Obama in Minnesota — the economy and antipathy toward George Bush. Coleman leads Franken in issues of terrorism, but not the economy. And right now, it’s all about the economy. Franken has “the youth vote” and does well among seniors. The “negative thing” has turned against Coleman. He got a bounce for pulling the negative ads off the air, but he still has a reputation for negativity, which didn’t disappear. Barkley is pulling support from Coleman. But Franken’s gap with Barack Obama is higher now than earlier in the campaign. Where’s the coattail? More voters see Franken as “too liberal” than Coleman as “too conservative.” I’m not sure whether this is good or bad but it does call to mind former Republican boss Bill Cooper’s old complaint that Coleman wasn’t conservative enough.
Here’s the entire poll (pdf format).
About the blogger
Bob Collins has been with Minnesota Public Radio since 1992, emigrating to Minnesota from Massachusetts. He was senior editor of news in the ’90s, ran MPR’s political unit, created the MPR News regional website, invented the popular Select A Candidate, started the two most popular blogs in the history of MPR and every day laments that his Minnesota Fantasy Legislature project never caught on.