Excerpts from a new report by the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance on its latest poll on the Minnesota Governor's race:
Even though the race remains too close to call, Attorney General Mike Hatch has opened up a narrow 6 point lead over Governor Tim Pawlenty, 45 percent to 39 percent, with just over a week before Election Day. Independence Party candidate Peter Hutchinson is drawing 9 percent, with 7 percent still undecided. The Humphrey Institute survey of 663 likely Minnesota voters was conducted October 23-28, 2006 and has a 3.8 margin of error.
Hatch's edge results from three factors:
1. The Minnesotan electorate is tilting toward the Democratic Party. Democrats are more fired up to vote and the Republican Party's "brand name" has been tarnished.
2. Voters are adopting a more sour evaluation of the state's circumstances, the Governor's performance, and his personality compared to Hatch's. The concerns of voters are dominated by "Democratic issues" (health care, education, and the Iraq War); the issues promoted by the Governor and Republicans (illegal immigration, gay marriage, and terrorism) do not rank highly on voters' agenda.
3. A backlash against President Bush and the Iraq War is hurting the Governor.
The outcome of the contest could still break in the Governor's favor during the final days of the campaign if undecided voters break for him and he picks up support from wayward Democrats and current Hutchinson backers.