March 13, 2007

Coleman Still Beating Franken In Polling

Rasmussen has conducted another poll for the 2008 Senate race in Minnesota, and to no one's great surprise, Norm Coleman still handily beats Al Franken. Following a month after a local poll showed Coleman far outstripping the comedian, the gap has narrowed, but not because Franken has gained any support (via Memeorandum):

Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman (R) knows he is high on the Democrats’ wish list this cycle and the first Rasmussen Reports Senate poll for Election 2008 shows the incumbent starting off below the 50% level of support. A survey of 500 Likely Voters finds Coleman leading Al Franken (D) 46% to 36% with 10% saying they’d vote for a third party option.

Generally speaking, incumbents who poll below 50% are considered potentially vulnerable.

Coleman is a freshman Senator who won his seat in 2002 by just two percentage points. Coleman replaced Paul Wellstone (D) in the Senate. Wellstone died in a plane crash near the end of the 2002 election and was replaced on the ballot by former Vice President Walter Mondale. Coleman was recruited heavily by the Bush team in 2002 but has distanced himself from the Administration lately.

The third-party option probably accounts for the difference between the two polls, and that doesn't hurt Coleman as much as it hurts Franken. The KSTP/Survey USA poll showed Coleman ahead of Franken 57-35 in a two-way race. Coleman stays under 50% when a third-party option exists, but here in Minnesota, a third party would mean Green or something equally left-wing.

Note that Franken either stays at the same level of support or slightly drops between the polls. He hasn't gained any traction at all, despite his attempts to move from his Air America rants to a more measured and polished public persona. Rasmussen indicates that Franken has a large hurdle to clear in that regard. Even here in a state with more liberal/progressive tendencies than most, Franken's favorability sinks below the surface. Where Coleman has a thin +9 favorability with Minnesotans (51/42), Franken tanks with a -7 (39/46).

Coleman has a long way to go before he can feel secure in his re-election bid. However, if Franken does win the nomination -- no sure thing, given the political climate here in the state -- the road will seem much brighter.


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