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Coleman Leads MN Poll

After a difficult two months in which he took heat for failing to pay taxes in some states and for not providing worker's compensation through his company, entertainer Al Franken now finds himself at a significant disadvantage to incumbent Senator Norm Coleman in Minnesota. Franken, who once led or was tied with Coleman, has faced such a difficult time lately that one candidate who dropped out of the Democratic primary has even considered returning to the race.

The poll, conducted by the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, took place 5/12-15 and surveyed 1,203 adults, with a subsample of 1,117 registered voters. Both samples have a margin of error of +/- 3%. Coleman, Franken, attorney Mike Ciresi and college professor Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer were surveyed.

General Election Matchup (RVs)
Coleman.................51
Franken..................44

Coleman.................51
Ciresi......................43

Coleman.................53
Nelson-Pallmeyer...38

The income tax filing issue has affected Franken, the poll shows. 28% of respondents said the issue made them less likely to vote for the entertainer, including 20% of Democrats and 26% of independents. The fact that the Star-Tribune included Ciresi, who dropped his bid in early March, is another sign of Franken's ills. When he first jumped into the race, Franken made some Democrats worry about missing the chance to seriously challenge Coleman.

But the incumbent isn't in much better position. Just 45% approve of the job he's doing as a senator, as 31% disapprove, and 45% of respondents said Coleman changes his mind for political advantage. Only 34% said they thought Coleman has a core set of political principles.

Take note of the poll's source, too. The Star-Tribune poll has been a favorite whipping boy for Republican Party officials in recent years, as they criticize results for skewing too much towards Democrats. The final survey in 2006 showed Democrat Amy Klobuchar leading Republican Mark Kennedy by about twenty points, and though Republicans again called for polling director Rob Daves' head, Klobuchar won by a nearly identical margin. When surveys closer to November show a tight race, remember that no Republicans complained about Coleman's lead way back in mid-May.