Jim Graves at the DFL convention | Photo by A. Klemz
by Tony Petrangelo
Sep 11, 2012, 7:00 AM

Michele Bachmann finds herself in an actual race

Another day, another internal poll release, this time from the Jim Graves campaign showing him gaining ground on Representative Michele Bachmann in the race for Minnesota’s sixth congressional district.

Greenberg Quinlan Rosner (9/10, 6/26 in parenthesis):

Michele Bachmann (R-inc) 48 (48)
Jim Graves (D) 46 (43)
Undecided 6 (9)
(MoE: ±5%)

I was rather dismissive of Jim Graves chances against Michele Bachmann when he released the first internal back in June showing him down by five.

I’m not as dismissive now.

While Bachmann still has to be considered the favorite, this poll outlines the difficulties she may encounter in November. She still has a lot of natural advantages of course, the district, incumbency, money and infrastructure.

Those are big advantages to be sure.

There are some things working against her though, she’s maxed out her name recognition, it’s at 99%, yet she’s stuck at 48% support. Independents seem to be souring on her, in the June survey she was winning them 45-41, now she’s losing them 37-52, a 19 point swing.

This shows up in Bachmann’s job approval numbers among independents as well, in June she was underwater 36-59, now she’s down to 32-66.

So can Jim Graves actually win this thing?

I wrote this in response to the internal poll his campaign released in June:

This poll shows lots of different permutations of, what you might call, a built in five point advantage for Bachmann. This is not something that cannot be overcome, but it won’t be easy. Jim Graves essentially needs to get about 75% of the undecided vote to get to 50%.

This is no small task for someone starting with almost no name recognition, 20% according to the poll. But this poll does seem to confirm the suspicion that Michele Bachmann is in a slightly weakened position.

Just looking at the toplines, undecided respondents decreased three points, from 9% to 6%, while the number of respondents saying they would vote for Jim Graves increased from 43% to 46%, also three points.

It looks like Jim Graves is doing what he needs to do so far, which is to get the lions share of the undecided vote into his column. That said, he’s still twice as far from 50%+1 as Michele Bachmann is. And it’s likely that the people he’s peeled off so far were the low hanging fruit, so to speak.

So while Bachmann still appears to be the front runner, the Bachmann campaign’s response to this poll comes awfully close to loser-speak:

Of course, Jim Graves can spend as much money as he wants to get the poll numbers he wants. The one thing that he can’t buy is the support of the people of the Sixth District.

Oh snap! Take that Jim Graves! You better hope they don’t sic Jim the Elections Guy on you!

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