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Coleman's Lead Shrinks Over DFL-ers in New SurveyUSA Poll

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There are good reasons the Democratic Party is targeting Minnesota for one of their best chances at a pick-up in the 2008 elections for the U.S. Senate.

First, Republican incumbent Norm Coleman's job approval ratings have generally been mediocre to just south of mediocre throughout most of his four and one-half years in office. Of late, they are going further south. The latest SurveyUSA poll in Minnesota marks Coleman's lowest numbers to date: 43 percent approval, 48 percent disapproval. Coleman has never eclipsed the 60 percent approval mark in any public poll—a feat accomplished just this month in the SurveyUSA poll by DFL Senator Amy Klobuchar (61 percent). Coleman's numbers are thus not lackluster due to a generalized backlash against Washington D.C. per se, as Klobuchar is registering strong support for her work on the Hill at the moment.

Secondly, more and more Minnesotans are identifying themselves as Democrats rather than Republicans. In a Humphrey Institute survey just a few weeks before the 2004 election, 33 percent of Minnesotans identified themselves as Republicans, 30 percent Democrats, and 31 percent independents. In monthly polls by SurveyUSA since March 2007, more Minnesotans have identified themselves as Democrats than Republicans by 12-point, 13-point, 9-point, 16-point, and 11-point (35 to 24 percent in July) margins.

Thirdly, Coleman's numbers against the potential DFL nominee are not trending well for the incumbent. According to the new SurveyUSA poll, in a head-to-head pairing against Mike Ciresi, Coleman leads 48 to 42 percent, down from a 57 to 34 percent advantage in a February SurveyUSA poll.

When matched up against Al Franken, Coleman holds a 7-point 49 to 42 percent lead, down from 57 to 35 percent in February. In May, a MPR poll showed Coleman still with a 20 plus-point advantage—54 to 32 percent.

In the first public poll matching Coleman against DFL-er Jim Cohen, Coleman leads 49 to 37 percent.

While Coleman's numbers are somewhat alarming for the GOP, he is far from facing a crisis situation. Coleman has demonstrated himself to be one of the most centrist Republicans in the Senate (National Journal's 2007 rankings of U.S. Senators found Coelman to by the 4th closest Senator to the center, based on its 2006 vote ratings), and the Senator will undoubtedly campaign on that to appeal to independent voters. Coleman would be wise to distance himself now and through his re-election campaign as far from President Bush as possible—whose job approval ratings has dipped below 30 percent in the Gopher State.

Previous post: New ARG Iowa Poll Finds Rudy & Hillary On Top
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Remains of the Data

No Free Passes: States With 2 Major Party Candidates in Every US House Race

Indiana has now placed candidates from both major parties on the ballot in a nation-best 189 consecutive U.S. House races, with New Hampshire, Minnesota, Idaho, and Montana also north of 100 in a row.

Political Crumbs

Gubernatorial Highs and Lows

Two sitting governors currently hold the record for the highest gubernatorial vote ever received in their respective states by a non-incumbent: Republican Matt Mead of Wyoming (65.7 percent in 2010) and outgoing GOPer Dave Heineman of Nebraska (73.4 percent in 2006). Republican Gary Herbert of Utah had not previously won a gubernatorial contest when he notched a state record 64.1 percent for his first victory in 2010, but was an incumbent at the time after ascending to the position in 2009 after the early departure of Jon Huntsman. Meanwhile, two sitting governors hold the record in their states for the lowest mark ever recorded by a winning gubernatorial candidate (incumbent or otherwise): independent-turned-Democrat Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island (36.1 percent in 2010) and Democrat Terry McAuliffe of Virginia (47.8 percent in 2013).


An Idaho Six Pack

Two-term Idaho Republican Governor Butch Otter only polled at 39 percent in a recent PPP survey of the state's 2014 race - just four points ahead of Democratic businessman A.J. Balukoff. Otter's low numbers reflect his own struggles as a candidate (witness his weak primary win against State Senator Russ Fulcher) combined with the opportunity for disgruntled Idahoans to cast their votes for one of four third party and independent candidates, who collectively received the support of 12 percent of likely voters: Libertarian John Bujak, the Constitution Party's Steve Pankey, and independents Jill Humble and Pro-Life (aka Marvin Richardson). The six candidate options in a gubernatorial race sets an all-time record in the Gem State across the 46 elections conducted since statehood. The previous high water mark of five candidates was reached in seven previous cycles: 1902, 1904, 1908, 1912, 1914, 1966, and 2010.


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