Minnesota: Chip Cravaack Leading in GOP Poll

An internal poll conducted by Rep. Chip Cravaack's campaign showed him ahead of his Democratic challenger. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 11:55 a.m. | With a week to go before Election Day, two competing polls from Minnesota’s 8th district show vastly different pictures of the tossup race between Rep. Chip Cravaack (R) and former Rep. Rick Nolan (D).

An internal poll conducted by Cravaack’s campaign showed the Republican incumbent ahead of Nolan by 10 points. The poll of 400 likely voters had Cravaack with 50 percent of the vote to Nolan’s 40 percent. The poll's margin of error was 4.9 points and it was conducted Oct. 24 and Oct. 25.

At the same time, a Public Policy Polling survey of 1,020 likely voters showed Nolan in the lead with 48 percent to Cravaack’s 44 percent, just slightly outside of the 3.8 point margin of error. The poll was conducted Oct. 25 and Oct. 26.

Polls in the 8th district have been virtually deadlocked for much of this election cycle, with Nolan often polling slightly ahead but within the margin of error. Cravaack’s internal poll, conducted by Republican polling firm OnMessage Inc., is the first in recent months to show him with such a lead.

Ben Golnik, an adviser for Cravaack, said PPP’s poll may be skewed, accounting for the disparity with Cravaack’s internal poll.

“PPP’s partisan breakdown in the survey was +9 for Dems,” Golnik said in an email. “[The] district is +2, maybe +3 for Dems.”

The competing polls, a norm this election cycle, came as both President Barack Obama and GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney launched ads in the state, which was expected to stay blue for most of this election cycle. Recent presidential polls in the state show the race narrowing, with Obama leading Romney by just 3 points, down from 8 points earlier this cycle.

The tightening of the polls in the presidential race is good news for Cravaack, who needs to pick up split-ticket voters in the district, which has a slight Democratic lean.

Roll Call rates this race as a Tossup.

UPDATE 11:55 a.m.

Michael Misterek, Nolan's campaign manager, said Cravaack's poll was a blatant attempt to try and create momentum in the final days of the race, adding that it "reeks of desperation on their side."

"The truth is, their internal poll is laughable," Misterek said. "There has been nothing but consistency in the polling data in this race, and it's all shown Rick in the lead. We think the timing is funny, and we think that it's a desperate attempt to look like they are still in this race as it's slipping away."