In SurveyUSA’s new mid-August poll of the Minnesota U.S. Senate race, Norm Coleman has a 7-point advantage over Al Franken, 46 to 39 percent. The poll continues a trend over the last six weeks revealing there is a substantial number of Minnesotans who are undecided or who plan to vote for another candidate.
Normally, over the course of a campaign, the number of undecided voters decreases over time – especially in the last few weeks of the campaign – as voters begin to pay more attention and become more familiar with the candidates.
However, the U.S. Senate race in Minnesota has reversed course. In eleven matchup polls between Coleman and Franken conducted between February and June 2008, an average of just 6.9 percent of Minnesotans stated they were unsure if they would vote for one of the major party candidates, or volunteered that they planned to vote for another candidate.
In six polls since July 2008, however, the number of Minnesotans planning to vote for another candidate or who are still undecided has nearly doubled to 12.0 percent. In the new SurveyUSA poll, 15 percent of Minnesotans did not yet express a preference for Coleman or Franken.
One reason for what amounts to at least a temporary decrease in support for the Republican and DFL candidates in this race could be sustained momentum from Jesse Ventura’s non-candidacy for another candidate to emerge. There is little doubt the Independence Party candidate that wins the September 9th primary will earn at least 4 or 5 percent of the vote in November – and perhaps much more. Additionally, increased negative advertising over recent weeks might also be driving some voters away from the major parties.