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Minnesota: Franken Still Narrowly Ahead in Senate Race

Democratic challenger Al Franken remains slightly ahead of Republican incumbent Norm Coleman in Minnesota’s hotly contested U.S. Senate race.

The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey shows Franken with 41% of the vote and Coleman with 37%. Independent candidate Dean Barkley attracts 17% of the vote and five percent (5%) remain undecided. This is the second straight poll to show Franken with the lead.

Perhaps the most ominous number in the survey for Coleman is that his favorable ratings are lower than those for either of his opponents. Just 46% of Minnesota voters have a favorable opinion of the incumbent senator. Fifty-two percent (52%) have a favorable opinion of Barkley, while 51% say the same about Franken.

For Franken, it might be troubling that a lot of people strongly dislike him. Thirty-one percent (31%) have a Very Unfavorable view of the former comedian. Just 24% are that unhappy with Coleman and only nine percent (9%) dislike Barkley that much.

The relative unpopularity of both major party candidates helps explain Barkley’s strong showing. The Independent candidate is supported by 10% of Republicans, seven percent (7%) of Democrats and 31% of those not affiliated with either major party (see full demographic crosstabs).

Earlier this month, Franken was up by six points. Last month, Coleman was up by a point.

(Want a free daily e-mail update? If it's in the news, it's in our polls).

Coleman is seeking a second term in the Senate and has been under the 50% level of support in nine-out-of-10 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. Earlier this year, his campaign was troubled by some of his earlier writings that many deemed offensive to women. Hillary Clinton, campaigning for Franken this week, indirectly addressed that topic. "Sure, he's been a comedian, and occasionally he's even been funny," the former First Lady said. She also praised him for addressing an issue she first raised when her husband was in the White House. "Al Franken was taking on the vast right-wing conspiracy before other people even admitted it existed," Mrs. Clinton said.

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. Barkley entered the Senate race after Ventura decided not to. Barkley served very briefly in the Senate -- from November 12, 2002, until January 3, 2003 -- when Ventura appointed him to finish the term of Democrat Paul Wellstone who died in a plane crash.

Barack Obama leads John McCain in Minnesota and nationally in the Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll.

Minnesota is home to one of several endangered Republican Senate seats this year including those in Alaska, New Hampshire, Oregon, New Mexico, Colorado, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina and Virginia. Demographic crosstabs for all state polling are available for Premium Members . Learn More.

The Democrats currently have 51 senators in their caucus (including two independents). Take a moment to predict whether they will add enough new senators to reach the filibuster-proof magic number of 60 following Election 2008.

Forty-six percent (46%) of Minnesota voters say Governor Tim Pawlenty is doing a good or an excellent job. Twenty-two percent (22%) rate his performance as poor. Please sign up for the Rasmussen Reports daily e-mail update (it’s free)… let us keep you up to date with the latest public opinion news. 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 22, 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.