This is my mean face (
by Tony Petrangelo
Oct 16, 2012, 7:00 AM

Michele Bachmann leads by nine in first public poll of MN-6

We’ve already seen two polls of Minnesota’s Sixth Congressional district race between Representative Michele Bachmann and Jim Graves. Both of those polls were of the internal variety, and both from the Graves campaign itself. Those polls showed a Michele Bachmann lead of five and than two points.

The first public poll of the race, conducted by SurveyUSA, throws a bit of cold water on the notion that Michele Bachmann is suddenly vulnerable though.

SurveyUSA (10/15, no trend lines):

Michele Bachmann (R-inc) 50
Jim Graves (D) 41
Undecided 9
(MoE: ±4.1%)

The main difference between this poll and the two Graves campaign internals that have come out is not Michele Bachmann’s level of support. She was steady at 48% in both of those polls, she’s at 50% in this one.

Rather, the main difference between this poll and the two Graves campaign internals is the amount of support for Jim Graves, 43% and 46% in his polling, while this poll has him at 41%.

It’s possible that something occurred between the time the most recent Jim Graves internal was released, on September 10th, and now such that rather than being optimistic polls, they were in fact accurate at the time they were conducted.

And in fact there is a thing that has happened since the most recent Jim Graves internal was released, that thing is that both candidates started advertising on the television. So it’s possible that Michele Bachmann’s negative ad blitz is having an effect on Jim Graves support.

It’s also possible that the ads are having not effect and everything is the same as it was in September.

This is the part of the post where I put in the caveat about drawing trend lines between polls from different pollsters. You shouldn’t do that. That said, the differences between all of these polls are within their margins of error. So rather than any movement we could just be looking at random sampling error.

Regardless of their differences  one thing these three polls agree on is that Michele Bachmann is really close to 50%+1. There have been three polls released of this race and Michele Bachmann has been at 48%, 48% and now 50%. Even in the one that had Jim Graves down by only two, Michele Bachmann was at 48%.

Average out the three polls and you get a Bachmann lead of 49-43.  Again, that average contains two Jim Graves internal polls and just one public poll.

If you’re wondering, SurveyUSA’s polls of Minnesota congressional districts have been very accurate in the past.

In 2010 they polled both Minnesota’s first and eighth congressional districts right before the election. The first district poll showed Tim Walz winning 50-41, he actually won 49-44. The eighth district poll showed Jim Oberstar winning 47-46, he of course lost to Chip Cravaack 48-47.

Going back to 2008, their last poll of the sixth district had Michele Bachmann winning 46-45, she went on to win 46-43. Their last poll of the third district had Erik Paulsen winning 46-41, he actually won 48-41.

We can even go back to 2006 when their last sixth district poll had Michele Bachmann winning 49-42, she won 50-42.

They haven’t missed on a top line by more than three points, and on a vote spread by more than four points. I would consider this to be a fairly unassailable record of accurately polling congressional races in this state.

This means that Michele Bachmann, baring some unforeseen development, is likely going to win re-election this year. This also means that Rick Nolan has an excellent shot of knocking off Chip Cravaack.

The one sort of curious thing is that on the same day this poll was released the DCCC announced it was moving this race to it’s Red to Blue list. It’s curious in the timing of course, although they likely had no way to know this poll was coming out. But it’s also curious in that it begs the question, is their polling showing a different story? Or did other factor’s motivate that decision?

And on that note, just as I had finished writing this post I came across these two tweets from Jennifer Brooks of the StarTribune:

This certainly fits the “there hasn’t been any real movement in this race” possibility discussed above, in that Jim Graves pollster, Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, hasn’t seen any movement since September.

Throwing this poll into the average, now four polls three of them Jim Graves internals, Michele Bachmann leads 48-44. That leaves 8% of the vote undecided. Jim Graves would need to win 75%+1 of that remaining 8% to beat Michele Bachmann.

Needless to say, that’s a pretty big hill to climb, especially when you’re trying to climb it against someone who can flood your path with a virtually endless supply of money.

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