Poll: Franken approval ratings solid, GOP competitors weak

WASHINGTON – After a narrow victory in 2008, Republicans have long assumed that DFL U.S. Sen. Al Franken would be vulnerable in the 2014 elections, but a new survey suggests the state’s junior senator has solidified his position in the state.

The survey of 1,065 Minnesota voters by Public Policy Polling found Franken with a job approval rating of 52 percent. Franken’s work in the Senate received a thumbs down from 41 percent of those surveyed. Approval ratings above 50 percent tend to suggest a relatively safe position for incumbent lawmakers.

Franken also bests a wide field of potential GOP challengers in a series of hypothetical lineups including former Sen. Norm Coleman, U.S. Reps. John Kline, Erik Paulsen and Michele Bachmann. The closest any of them comes to Franken is Coleman though he still draws just 44 percent support compared to Franken’s 50 percent. Coleman has also ruled out a rematch against Franken in interviews with MPR News and other outlets.

PPP also polled a subset of 275 Minnesota Republicans about their preferences for the party’s nominee and found that Bachmann was the overwhelming favorite should she decide to run. The four term congresswoman has the support of 45 percent of the GOP voters polled which was far ahead of any other potential candidates. But Bachmann polls badly against Franken in a general election setting, drawing 40 percent support compared to Franken’s 54 percent.

So far, Bachmann has been mum on future plans and shows little sign of positioning herself for a Senate run.

Some caveats: PPP is a Democratic-friendly firm that uses automated phone surveys, which are generally considered less accurate than live interviews. However the company’s polls had a track record of accuracy in last year’s elections.

The poll, conducted between Jan. 18 and 20, has a margin of error of 3 percent. The Republican subset has a 5.9 percent margin of error.