KSTP/SurveyUSA: Smith leads Lewis, but Senate race tightens

Less than a month before Election Day, there’s a slight tightening in the Minnesota U.S. Senate race between incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Tina Smith and Republican challenger Jason Lewis.

Smith leads Lewis 44% to 37%, down from a 47% to 36% lead last month. Another 16% are undecided and 4% prefer other candidates.

"Tina Smith is not well-known and she is far less conspicuous of a Senator than Amy Klobuchar has been, and so she’s only getting 44% in this survey as an incumbent," said Carleton College political analyst Steven Schier.

In an ordinary campaign year that would make Smith extremely vulnerable. Of course, 2020 is not an ordinary campaign year.

There have not been any televised debates in the race so the candidates are mostly under the radar. That makes it difficult for a challenger to get traction, especially for Lewis who has his own vulnerability by struggling to attract female voters.

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Smith leads among female voters by 17 points, 47% to 30%. That’s more than enough to overcome the 44% to 41% lead Lewis has among male voters. The Smith campaign is running TV ads highlighting controversial things Lewis has said about women during his talk radio career.

"I think it’s an effective strategy for the Tina Smith campaign to raise concerns about some of the statements Jason Lewis made in talk radio about women in order to prevent him from making gains with women," Schier said.

Lewis counters with ads questioning whether Smith supports police or the "defund the police" movement. However, Smith has more money to spend on ads having outraised Lewis by a five-to-one margin, $10 million to $2.5 million.

Our poll of 929 "likely voters" indicates Smith leads 48% to 36% in the Twin Cities and 39% to 32% in southern Minnesota. The two candidates are essentially tied in western Minnesota, 37% for Smith and 36% for Lewis. Lewis leads by double-digits in northeastern Minnesota, 46% to 36%.

The poll has a margin of error of +/- 3.9%.

Click here to see the full results.