Kerry surges in Minnesota

By Eric Boehlert
Published October 31, 2004 5:38PM (EST)

In a state that's been too close to call for months, Sen. John Kerry opens up an eye-popping 8-point lead in Minnesota, according to today's Minneapolis Star Tribune. The poll found Kerry with the support of 49 percent of likely voters, compared to Bush's 41 percent. The finding mirrors the latest Zogby tracking poll results released on Saturday, which showed Kerry with 49 percent to Bush's 43 percent in Minnesota. A Star Tribune poll conducted just two weeks ago showed the state too close to call.

What could be behind the late Kerry surge? The newspaper reports, "The repeated airing of Osama bin Laden's latest video Friday may have been one reason there was a spike in support for Kerry in the interviews conducted that night, compared with three previous nights of interviewing." The Star Tribune quotes the University of Minnesota's Larry Jacobs agreeing: "Maybe it was bin Laden, maybe it was the news about the missing explosives [in Iraq], but the news seems to have been injected with the seriousness of national security events."

The poll results were across-the-board good news for Democrats in what is considered to be a must-win state. For instance, Kerry leads Bush among likely, independent voters 46 percent to 34 percent, while Bush's support among self-described conservatives has dropped 10 points in the last two weeks.

Appearing on Fox News today, former Republican Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich addressed the question of polls over the weekend that continue to show Bush losing ground, 1 percentage point at a time. Gingrich's spin was Republican candidates always poll stronger during the working week and Democrats do better on the weekends. But that rationale doesn't apply to Bush's weak showing in Minnesota; the poll was conducted Tuesday through Friday.

The one bright spot for Bush is that Minnesota election pros say come Election Day, Minnesotans traditionally vote slightly more Republican than what the final, pre-election polls indicate.

Eric Boehlert

Eric Boehlert, a former senior writer for Salon, is the author of "Lapdogs: How the Press Rolled Over for Bush."

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