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August 22, 2008


After a rough campaign stretch, Minnesota Senate candidate Al Franken has good reason to be newly confident about his political prospects.

A newly released poll shows Franken with a 1-point lead over Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) — the first time Franken has led any public poll in months.

The poll, conducted by the Center for Survey Research and Analysis at the University of Connecticut for Minnesota Public Radio and the Humphrey Institute, surveyed 763 likely voters August 7-17 and had a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points. Coleman, Franken and former Sen. Dean Barkley, running as an independent, were tested among a sample that was 50 percent Democratic, 39 percent Republican and 11 percent independent or other.

General Election Matchup
(All / Dem / GOP / Ind)
Franken............41 / 71 / 7 / 30
Coleman............40 / 8 / 81 / 36
Barkley.............8 / 8 / 6 / 11


Though a statistically insignificant lead, the results are a far cry from the 10 points or more by which Franken has trailed in recent polls. It is also the first time Franken has led a live-call poll since late January, when Minnesota Public Radio and the Humphrey Institute showed him leading Coleman by a 3-point margin, 43 percent to 40 percent.

Franken’s lead comes after stretches in which the Democrat was defending himself from accusations that he neglected to pay taxes in 17 states while having to explain a sexually explicit article he had written for Playboy magazine.

After months on defense, Franken has turned the tables on Coleman, aggressively attacking the Republican over a fishing trip he took to Alaska with now-indicted Sen. Ted Stevens and oil executives.

Franken's campaign launched a new ad featuring a talking fish questioning Coleman's ethical conduct.

"Over 10,000 lakes in Minnesota, but where does Norm Coleman go fishing? Alaska," a talking fish in the ad says. "Now one of the oil guys Norm went fishing with has been convicted of bribery, and Norm refuses to return the money. Something smells fishy, and it ain't just me."

Franken's campaign has also accused Coleman of receiving discounted rent and free utilities from one of his political consultants at a property in Washington, D.C. Coleman has defended the arrangement, calling his basement living quarters "a shoebox" and arguing that he lives "humbly as a senator."

— Reid Wilson and Josh Kraushaar