Updated: 03/04/2014 6:25 AM
Created: 03/03/2014 7:17 PM KSTP.com
By: Tom Hauser
In 2008, Al Franken won a hard-fought race with incumbent Senator Norm Coleman, but he had to be patient. The race resulted in a recount that lasted seven months. When the ballots cleared inspection, Franken was declared the winner by 312 votes.
Fast forward to 2014 and Franken's lead in our exclusive new KSTP/SurveyUSA poll isn't nearly that close, but for the incumbent it might be too close for comfort.
Franken's lead over his two closest potential GOP challengers is eight points. He leads state Senator Julianne Ortman and St. Louis County Commissioner Chris Dahlberg by identical 49 percent to 41 percent margins. Businessman Mike McFadden, the leading fundraiser among GOP candidates, trails Franken by 50 percent to 40 percent.
Three other candidates are further behind. State Representative Jim Abeler trails Franken 49 percent to 37 percent. Harold Shudlick and Monti Moreno each trail Franken by 14 points, 50 percent to 36 percent.
There are many variables still in play eight months before Election Day. Republicans still need to narrow down to one candidate, probably in a primary in August.
Our poll also shows many voters, as many as 10 percent to 15 percent are undecided. One potentially troubling sign for Franken is that among independent voters, he trails the top three GOP contenders by an average 44 percent to 42 percent margin.
The poll of 545 registered voters across the state was conducted Feb. 25-27. It includes phone interviews on both landlines and cell phones. The poll has a margin of error of +-4.3 percent.