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Franken Leads Coleman in Minnesota Senate Race

As the electoral landscape continues to look bleak for Republicans, Al Franken has pulled ahead of Republican incumbent Norm Coleman in Minnesota’s hotly contested U.S. Senate race. Support for Independent candidate Dean Barkley could have a significant impact on the final outcome of the race.

The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey shows Franken with 43% of the vote, Coleman with 37%, and Barkley with 17%. This is the largest advantage Franken has enjoyed all year. A month ago, Coleman was up by a point.

Franken leads by fourteen points among women but trails by a single point among men.

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However, a key factor in the race is that only 3% are absolutely certain they will vote for Barkley. If the election were held today, it is likely that his actual vote total would end up somewhere between the 17% who say they would vote for him and the 3% who refuse to choose one of the major party candidates as an option.

If those uncommitted Barkley voters and other leaners are added to the totals, it’s Franken 50% and Coleman 46%. This suggests that the outcome could be determined by which Barkley supporters stay with the Independent candidate and which choose to vote for one of the major party candidates.

Barkley is currently supported by 11% of Republicans, 10% of Democrats, and 31% of unaffiliated voters (see full demographic crosstabs).

The Independent candidate benefits from the relative unpopularity of both Coleman and Franken.

Just 17% of voters statewide have a Very Favorable opinion of Coleman while 29% have a Very Unfavorable view of the incumbent.

The numbers for Franken are even more negative--11% Very Favorable and 37% Very Unfavorable.

Barkley is far less well known—4% Very Favorable and 6% Very Unfavorable.

When softer opinions are included, Barkley does very well. Overall, 52% say they have a favorable opinion of him. Just 45% say the same about Franken and 44% have at least a somewhat positive view of Coleman.

But, these figures probably overstate the positive feelings towards Barkley. The question on favorable ratings was asked after the ballot question in the survey. So, many people who may not have heard of Barkley before the survey know only that he is an independent candidate for U.S. Senate. In the current partisan atmosphere where Minnesota voters have generally unflattering opinions of Franken and Coleman, that alone may have convinced some to offer “somewhat favorable” opinion of Barkley.

Coleman is seeking a second term in the Senate and has been under the 50% level of support in nine-out-of-ten polls conducted this year. That’s always a sign that an incumbent is potentially vulnerable. He was first elected to the Senate six years ago, with just under 50% of the vote.

Franken is a former TV comedy writer and longtime Democratic activist. His prior writings and a recent flap about a Saturday Night Live skit he helped create.

Independent candidate Dean Barkley was a founder of the Minnesota Independence Party. In 1998, his party’s nominee, former pro-wrestler Jesse Ventura, defeated Coleman and a Democratic candidate for governor of Minnesota. Barkely entered the Senate race after Ventura decided not to. Barkley served very briefly in the United States Senate from November 12, 2002 until January 3, 2003 when Ventura appointed him to finish the term of Paul Wellstone who had died in a plane crash.

Barack Obama has opened a modest lead over McCain in Minnesota and nationally in the Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll.

Coleman is far from the only endangered Republican Senator in Election 2008. Many Republican Senate seats are potentially in play for Democrats including seats in Alaska, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Oregon, New Mexico, Colorado, Mississippi, Minnesota and Virginia.

Fifty percent (50%) of Minnesota voters say Governor Tim Pawlenty is doing a good or an excellent job. Twenty-one percent (21%) rate his performance as poor.

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This survey was conducted in partnership with Fox Television Stations Inc.

See survey questions and toplines. Crosstabs are available to Premium Members only.

Toss-Up

Latest RR Poll

RR Poll Avg.

RR Mkts.

In Trade

2002 Results

Coleman

43%

39%

50%

Franken

39%

41%

47%

This telephone survey of 500 Likely Voters was conducted by Rasmussen Reports October 7, 2008. The margin of sampling error for the survey is +/- 4.5 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence.

See Methodology


Minnesota Trends: Coleman vs. Franken

Date

Coleman

Franken

10/28/2008

43%

39%

10/22/2008

37%

41%

10/09/2008

37%

43%

09/18/2008

48%

47%

08/13/2008

45%

45%

07/22/2008

44%

43%

07/10/2008

42%

44%

06/11/2008

48%

45%

05/22/2008

47%

45%

04/22/2008

50%

43%

03/19/2008

48%

46%

02/16/2008

46%

49%


Favorable Ratings For Senate Candidates in Minnesota

 

Coleman

Franken

Very Favorable

24%

18%

Somewhat Favorable

27%

29%

Somewhat Unfavorable

26%

13%

Very Unfavorable

22%

38%

Not Sure

1%

2%


About Rasmussen Reports

Rasmussen Reports is an electronic publishing firm specializing in the collection, publication, and distribution of public opinion polling information.

The Rasmussen Reports ElectionEdge™ Premium Service for Election 2008 offers the most comprehensive public opinion coverage ever provided for a Presidential election.

Scott Rasmussen, president of Rasmussen Reports, has been an independent pollster for more than a decade.