WASHINGTON – A National Republican Congressional Committee polling memo purports to show that long-serving 7th District DFL U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson “may be one of the most vulnerable incumbent Democrats in America today.” But the numbers from the group that’s tasked with electing Republicans to the U.S. House tell a different story.
The poll of 400 registered likely voters shows Peterson, who’s still deciding whether to run for another term, has a 58 percent approval rating with 23 percent disapproving of his performance. In a head-to-head match up against his Republican rival, state Sen. Torrey Westrom, Peterson comes out ahead 46-39.
Now the 7th District is certainly Republican-friendly territory with voters generally backing GOP candidates for president though Peterson has long won re-election there by double digit margins. The NRCC points to other questions in the poll to bolster its case that Peterson, who’s been in office since 1991, is vulnerable.
In particular, the poll says 33 percent of respondents believe Peterson deserves re-election while 50 percent believe a new representative is needed. The NRCC also points to the results when voters were given a brief, positive spin on Westrom’s background which subsequently boosts Westrom to 51 percent support against Peterson’s 36 percent.
But it’s also worth noting that partisan polls such as these are often filled with leading questions and skewed samples designed to produce a favorable headline rather than provide insight into the race. When asked, the NRCC provided neither a demographic breakdown nor the original questions used in the poll.
Here’s the NRCC’s polling memo: