Clarity, clatter mark final week of MN-8 showdown

Last night, PPP released a new poll showing a 48-44 percent lead for former U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan (DFL) in his bid to oust freshman Rep. Chip Cravaack (R-MN8).

While this lead remains narrow in terms of the margin of error, this is the third poll showing a Nolan lead in the past two weeks. For polling nerds, the three pollsters include one with a slight GOP lean (the well-regarded SurveyUSA, which showed Nolan +1), the Star Tribune (using a relatively unproven pollster, which showed Nolan +7) and now PPP, which is regarded as an accurate pollster but with a slight Democratic house effect (Nolan +4). Thus it might finally be possible to say that right now, Nolan holds a slight but measurable lead going into the final week of the campaign.

This entire time I’ve been waiting for a poll that shows Cravaack up 5. That’s what it felt like on the ground, anecdotally. Cravaack has run a sharp campaign and he swept the large newspaper endorsements. He’s vastly better funded than Nolan, and he has far more outside spending on his behalf than his opponent. But this third poll has now brought me to a new conclusion.

Cravaack might be a skilled, TV-friendly and generally likable candidate, and if he wins that’s why. But he’s running in an historically Democratic district that is not entirely comfortable with key aspects of Cravaack’s actual political beliefs. This district wanted change in 2010, but it’s not necessarily as conservative as the guy that change ushered in.

Though I would like to know more about its funding sources (Tom Selinski put the group together), I was interested to see this small, local political group, “Regular Folks from the Iron Range” form to run this one ad.

The ad is interesting on many levels. It’s old school. It’s all dudes. Almost all Steelworkers. I know a few of those guys. This is exactly how Iron Rangers talk. I don’t think there’s a ton of money behind this thing and Nolan supporters seem to be the ones circulating it the most. But if it is effective to some degree on the Range, it would diminish the notable gains Cravaack has made in the region.

This race is not over. Nolan needs a strong close to put this away, because the final push from Cravaack and allies will be strong — especially if they believe themselves to be in a dogfight. But Nolan has to be pleased that he’s got a 50/50 shot at this after a rough summer primary and a stutter-start to his general election campaign.

UPDATE: This morning, Chip Cravaack’s campaign released an internal poll showing him ahead 50-40 percent, a 10-point lead. Though it’s well within the realm of possibility for Cravaack to be ahead in a poll, 10 points seems implausible compared with the results from the three independent pollsters. Read the memo at the above link or below the jump.

Oct. 28 Cravaack internal poll


  1. “His cabin is in Wisconsin.” Hilarious.

    Next: “Chip Cravaack buys beer on Sundays . . . not that there’s anything wrong with that, come to think of it.”

    I actually like the ad. Them ain’t actors.

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