Former Rep. Rick Nolan (D) could have the edge over Rep. Chip Cravaack (R) in the 8th district, according to a Minneapolis Star Tribune poll released today that showed the challenger with a 7-point lead.
Nolan led Cravaack 50 percent to 43 percent, according to the newspaper's poll of 1,000 likely voters conducted Oct. 16. The poll has a margin of error of 3 points.
The new poll showing Nolan in the lead is in stark contrast to three polls released earlier in the month, each of which showed the race to be deadlocked. The Nolan campaign is claiming the momentum in this. The Cravaack campaign disputed the findings of the Star Tribune poll.
Cravaack’s campaign argued with the Star Tribune’s overall polling numbers, pointing to flaws in its methodology, reported by MinnPost, that include that it was a one-day poll that called only land-line phones and had a plus-seven Democratic lean in a district that was drawn as a plus-two Democratic seat.
It instead touted the poll’s findings that Cravaack has a 7-point lead among independent voters as proof the campaign is in good shape going into the Nov. 6 election.
“There is not a single person who would say these numbers are reflective of the state of the race,” said Ben Golnik, a Cravaack adviser. “As is always the case in Minnesota, independent voters determine the winner, and Chip's commitment to a bipartisan spirit who bucks his party when they are wrong … his values and character are exactly in line with this district and why he is in a great position to win on Nov. 6."
The Cravaack campaign also touted endorsements from the Duluth News Tribune, the largest newspaper in the 8th district, as well as the Mesabi Daily News, a newspaper located in the 8th district that last cycle endorsed former Rep. Jim Oberstar (D), who represented the 8th district for more than 30 years.
But Nolan’s campaign, backed by the Democratic Farmer Labor Party, which has a stronghold in the working-class district that includes a large mining industry, says the numbers show its candidate has the momentum.
Nolan’s campaign manager, Michael Misterek, however, stressed that the race is far from over, and the results will likely be close come Election Day.
"This has been a neck-and-neck race and we believe it will continue to be close going into Election Day," Misterek told the Star Tribune.
The deadlocked race between underfunded Nolan, whose coffers were bruised by a tough primary race, and freshman Cravaack have motivated the Democratic and Republican campaign committees and outside interest groups to flood Minnesota's 8th district with ad money in an effort to tip the scales in their favor. Roll Call rates this race as a Tossup.