Presidential Race Maps Writing on the Wall

Minnesota Senate Race: Who Is Really Ahead?

Posted Oct 04, 2008 at 9:12 AM by Maurice Berger

While this blog and map do not cover US Senate races, the contest in Minnesota may well impact on the presidential race and vice versa. In the past few presidential cycles, this once reliably Democratic state has trended very close. Recent polls in the state are also instructive to PollTrack readers in another way: they sometimes contradict each other. A poll issued this morning by the Minneapolis Star Tribune Minnesota Poll reports the opposite of yesterday's Survey USA results. In the MST poll, Democrat Al Franken leads Republican first-termer Norm Coleman, 43% to 34%, with 18% for Independence Party candidate, Dean Barkley. Both polls agree on one thing: Barkley is coming on strong. What accounts for these contradictory readings: variations in likely voter models, skewed samples or voter party identification weighting, or statistical blips could be the culprit. PollTrack rarely reports on individual polls, relying instead on poll averages (see tool bar at right: A Note On Poll Averages). Once in a while, when two or more recent statewide polls report a dramatic shift from previous surveys--McCain's ominous dip in Michigan, the leveling off of Obama's support in Colorado, or the two most recent polls in Minnesota showing a statistically significant lead for Coleman (before today's MST poll) and an upswing in McCain's numbers--PollTrack will report on it. Overall, poll averages offer a better (and consistently more accurate) picture of the state of the race, and this blog will continue to rely on them, along with knowledge of statewide demographics and voting history, relevant local and national news events, and the on-the-ground movements and strategies of the campaigns.