Updated: 06/13/2014 7:41 AM
Created: 06/12/2014 6:29 PM KSTP.com
By: Tom Hauser
Gov. Mark Dayton and Sen. Al Franken survived recounts when they won their first elections to the governor's office and U.S. Senate. According to our latest KSTP/SurveyUSA poll, they might have to sweat our close races again in 2014. Franken clings to a six-point lead over his closest Republican challenger Mike McFadden, 48 percent to 42 percent. The poll has a margin of sampling error of +/- 3.1 percent.
"This poll is a cannon burst into the Minnesota U.S. Senate race," says political science professor Larry Jacobs of the University of Minnesota Humphrey Institute. Jacobs says if the race remains close it will attract millions in outside campaign money. Franken has a larger lead over another potential challenger, state Representative Jim Abeler. Franken leads Abeler by nine points, 48 percent to 39 percent. "The fact that even Jim Abeler is only nine points behind Al Franken indicates there appears to be a solid base of opposition to Al Franken," says Jacobs.
Governor Dayton also faces a potentially close re-election bid. He also leads his nearest competitor by just six points. The GOP-endorsed candidate for governor, Jeff Johnson, trails Dayton 46% to 40%. Dayton leads former House Speaker Kurt Zellers by seven points, 46 percent to 39 percent. Former House Minority Leader Marty Seifert is eight points back (46 percent-38 percent) and businessman Scott Honour is ten points back (47 percent-37 percent).
"These numbers suggest Mark Dayton is in a real fight for re-election," says Jacobs. However, Jacobs points out all these numbers come before millions of dollars are spent on negative political TV ads that could shape the ultimate direction of both the Senate and governor's races.
SurveyUSA interviewed 2,200 Minnesota adults between June 5 and June 9. Of the adults, 2,032 were registered to vote. Of the registered, 1,017 were determined by SurveyUSA to be likely to vote in the November general election, while 404 were determined to be likely to vote in the August primary election.
Minnesota has an "open" primary system, meaning anyone can vote in them. So the "likely" primary voters included 56 percent Republicans, 27 percent independents and 15 percent Democrats. The polling included a mix of home phone, cellphone and tablet respondents.