Daily Digest: Poll shows Smith, Walz with leads

Good morning, and happy Monday. You may have heard by now that MPR News and the Star Tribune partnered on a poll, and that’s where we’ll start the Digest.

1. Poll shows Klobuchar with lead, Smith with smaller lead. Democrats Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith are leading their Republican challengers in for Minnesota’s two seats in the U.S Senate, but Smith is facing a closer race this fall in an unexpected special election where neither nominee is well known among voters.  Smith leads Republican nominee Karin Housley 44- 37 percent in the race for her seat in the Senate, according to a MPR News/Star Tribune Minnesota Poll of 800 likely voters. But 15 percent of those polled said they are still undecided in the race, and 4 percent said they are voting for another candidate. Smith’s race is closer than the challenge facing Klobuchar, who is leading her Republican opponent Jim Newberger 60-30 percent, according to the poll. Only 6 percent of voters are undecided in that race, with 4 percent planning to vote for another candidate. The poll, conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling and Strategy between Sept. 10 – 12, has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. (MPR News)

2. Walz has lead, but many undecided. Democrat Tim Walz has a clear lead over Republican Jeff Johnson in the race to be Minnesota’s next governor. But with fewer than two months until the election, a sizable percentage remain undecided and unfamiliar with both candidates, the MPR News/Star Tribune Minnesota Poll shows. Of 800 registered voters statewide who participated in the poll conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling and Strategy, 45 percent said they support Walz, a six-term congressman from southern Minnesota, while 36 percent said they would like to see Johnson, a Hennepin County commissioner, become the next governor. It’s a notable 9-point advantage for Walz, though 16 percent of voters polled said they are still undecided about who they will vote for this fall, and 3 percent said they support another candidate entirely heading toward the Nov. 6 election. (MPR News) And here’s a closer look at the numbers from our friends at the APM Research Lab.

3. Wardlow and Ellison in tight race. Democrats have had a vice grip on the office of Minnesota attorney general for 47 years, but the 2018 race for that job is shaping up as the closest in decades. A KSTP/SurveyUSA poll shows Democrat Keith Ellison and Republican Doug Wardlow deadlocked at 41 percent each. “This is anybody’s race,” said political scientist Steven Schier. “Ellison is vulnerable in a way other Democrats are not.” (KSTP-TV)

4. Labor still leans DFL, but support isn’t nailed down. Recent union endorsements provide clues about the direction of both organized labor and the two parties. In recent years, the DFL, which has “labor” in its name and is the natural home to unions, has opposed some private infrastructure and mining projects, creating friction with the hard hat unions. Republicans, meanwhile, have spent decades chipping away at the labor movement, both from ideological opposition and also at the behest of their business allies. So what are the unions to do? Stick with incumbents with whom they’ve developed relationships and who will listen to pleas when the time comes for a tough vote at the Capitol. (Star Tribune)

5. As Kavanaugh accuser steps forward calls for vote delay mount. A Republican member of the Senate Judiciary Committee says he’s “not comfortable” voting in favor of Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court until he learns more about the sexual assault allegation against Kavanaugh dating to when he was in high school. Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake tells Politico and The Washington Post in interviews Sunday that the closely divided committee needs to hear from Kavanaugh’s accuser, Christine Blasey Ford.Ford told her story to The Washington Post in a piece published Sunday. Kavanaugh denies her allegations. (AP via Star Tribune)

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