Despite her national fan base and a massive war chest, Rep. Michele Bachmann may be in more danger than most suspect, with a new poll showing her lead diminished to just 2 points. Independent voters have swung against her by nearly 20 points in just two months, from a 4 percent advantage to a 15 point disadvantage. The internal poll, conducted by Democratic pollsters Greenberg Quinlan Rosner at the behest of Democrat Jim Graves’ campaign and shared with Salon, shows that Bachmann’s favorability rating has tumbled since their last survey in mid-June, and finds Graves gaining ground with independents as his name recognition grows.
Overall, the poll shows Bachmann leading Graves 48-46 percent, within the margin of error. The race has moved significantly among independents, with a 20-point net shift toward Graves, from a 41-45 percent disadvantage in June to a 52-37 percent lead now. Among independents, Bachmann's favorability rating has slipped 4 points while her unfavorability rating has jumped 7 points. Overall, she’s viewed mostly negatively. Among all voters, 40 percent give her a positive job rating, while a sizable 57 percent give her a negative one, with a plurality of 35 percent giving the most negative answer possible -- “poor.”
Graves' campaign manager (and son) Adam Graves told Salon that the numbers show his candidate is well positioned to beat Bachmann. “Obviously, we’re very excited about it. The first thing that’s notable is that obviously her recent comments, the stories that she’s created for herself, have really hurt her among folks in the middle,” he said. Bachmann, who had tried to keep a lower profile after aborting her presidential bid, grabbed headlines this summer for her implication that Muslims in the U.S. government may be secret agents of the Muslim Brotherhood.
As we argued last month, Graves has the best shot at beating Bachmann of any Democrat since the congresswoman was first elected in 2006, thanks in large part to the absence of a third-party candidate. In previous races, those candidates have captured as much as 10 percent of the vote, siphoning votes away from the challenger. While some observers were skeptical that much of that 10 percent would break toward a Democrat, the Graves campaign said the new poll shows clearly that that fear has not materialized, as independents are moving toward its candidate.
The poll also show that Graves' name ID in the district has jumped 20 points, though he's still largely unknown at 38 percent. Meanwhile, Bachmann is known by 99 percent of voters. That will make it harder for Bachmann to change people's perceptions about her, while Graves should be able to influence people who do not yet have an opinion of him. “If every time we pick up 20 percent on voter ID, we pick up 20 percent of the independents, then by the time we’ve reached a place where we’re happy with 80 percent ID or whatever, we realize that we’re going to be in a position to win,” Adam Graves said. "This race is neck-and-neck."
There’s been no other public polling of the district, though it’s reasonable to assume that the Bachmann campaign has commissioned its own surveys. The fact that none have been released suggests that Bachmann’s numbers also do not bode well for her. Meanwhile, she underperformed in her Republican primary last month.