WASHINGTON - After a narrow victory in 2008, Republicans have long assumed that DFL U.S. Sen. Al Franken would be vulnerable in the 2014 elections, but a new survey suggests the state's junior senator has solidified his position in the state.
The survey of 1,065 Minnesota voters by Public Policy Polling found Franken with a job approval rating of 52 percent. Franken's work in the Senate received a thumbs down from 41 percent of those surveyed. Approval ratings above 50 percent tend to suggest a relatively safe position for incumbent lawmakers.
Franken also bests a wide field of potential GOP challengers in a series of hypothetical lineups including former Sen. Norm Coleman, U.S. Reps. John Kline, Erik Paulsen and Michele Bachmann. The closest any of them comes to Franken is Coleman though he still draws just 44 percent support compared to Franken's 50 percent. Coleman has also ruled out a rematch against Franken in interviews with MPR News and other outlets.
PPP also polled a subset of 275 Minnesota Republicans about their preferences for the party's nominee and found that Bachmann was the overwhelming favorite should she decide to run. The four term congresswoman has the support of 45 percent of the GOP voters polled which was far ahead of any other potential candidates. But Bachmann polls badly against Franken in a general election setting, drawing 40 percent support compared to Franken's 54 percent.
So far, Bachmann has been mum on future plans and shows little sign of positioning herself for a Senate run.
Some caveats: PPP is a Democratic-friendly firm that uses automated phone surveys, which are generally considered less accurate than live interviews. However the company's polls had a track record of accuracy in last year's elections.
The poll, conducted between Jan. 18 and 20, has a margin of error of 3 percent. The Republican subset has a 5.9 percent margin of error.
"Some caveats: PPP is a Democratic-friendly firm that uses automated phone surveys, which are generally considered less accurate than live interviews. However the company's polls had a track record of accuracy in last year's elections."
It should be noted, that PPP actually had a Republican lean in the 2012 presidential election. It's a Democratically run firm, but one that has polled with a slight pro-Republican bias. This news is very good for Senator Franken.
According to Nate Silver, in the the 2012 Presidential PPP's bias as +1.6% for Republicans. (http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/11/10/which-polls-fared-best-and-worst-in-the-2012-presidential-race/)
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The PPP poll has very good news for Franken from Moderate voters. Franken was able to eek a win in 2008 (remember Coleman underperformed McCain by 63,000 votes and this will be a non-Presidential year), so connecting with Moderate … I.e. independent voters is key … as is whether the Independence Party will field a candidate.
Moderates approve Franken 62-30 … that’s a Big number.
Better yet, is how well Franken matches up
Bachmann ( Franken wins 67-25)
Kline (Franken wins 59-29)
Paulsen (Franken wins 60-26)
Its early, but Franken has one other main advantage … name recognition. Only 7% do not have an opinion and Franken has a favorable (52) - unfavorable (41).
Let’s ignore, Bachmann (which the polls indicate that 77% of “liberal” Republicans want her to run which suggests that there could be some misidentified “Republicans” in the 275 polled) and look at the others.
Kline has a Favorable rating of 26 versus 21 unfavorable and 51% NO OPINION on the overall respondents … but in the self-described Moderate group the numbers are 28 Favorable, 25 Unfavorable and 47 No Opinion.
Paulsen has a Favorable rating of 24 versus 21 unfavorable and 55% NO OPINION on the overall respondents … but in the self-described Moderate group the numbers are 22 Favorable, 26 Unfavorable and 60 No Opinion.
It’s the lack of opinion for two established Congressman that should make both of them wonder how they are connecting with their constituents.
52 % is not high at this time. Senator Feingold Wisconsin had 62 % at this time and went down in two years. Franken will have to support the gun lobby or his support among moderates will dwindle rapidly and a TPAW can sens this and take advantage of his vulnerability and take this former New Yorker down!