Maybe the decision to move some resources from Michigan to Minnesota makes more sense in light of the new Survey USA poll.  The poll of likely voters has John McCain slightly ahead of Barack Obama, 47%-46%, an improvement of three points since their last polling.  McCain also shows surprising strength in some demographics normally thought to be Obama’s base:

In an election for President of the United States in Minnesota today, 10/02/08, 33 days from the vote, John McCain and Barack Obama finish effectively even, according to a SurveyUSA poll conducted exclusively for KSTP-TV in Minneapolis, WDIO-TV in Duluth, KAAL-TV in Rochester, and KSAX-TV in Alexandria. The nominal advantage today goes to McCain, who is atop Obama 1 percentage point, 47% to 46%, within the survey’s 3.7 percentage point margin of sampling error. But: Compared to an identical SurveyUSA poll 20 days ago, Obama is down 3 points. How much of this is movement and how much of this is “noise” is unclear.

Minnesota behaves unlike other states in some respects. Among women, there is movement to McCain, at a time when McCain is losing ground among women elsewhere. Among voters younger than Obama, there movement to McCain, at a time when Obama is consolidating support among young voters elsewhere. Among voters older than McCain, there is movement to Obama, at a time when older voters elsewhere are sticking by McCain. In Western MN, which abuts the Dakotas, there is movement to McCain. In Northeastern MN, which overhangs Michigan, there is see-sawing back to Obama.

McCain actually leads among women by a single point, eliminating the gender gap that McCain has to fight nationwide.  He also polls within four points of Obama in the 18-29 age demographic, a stunning development in a state where college students are particularly active.  However, McCain is also trailing among older voters, especially 65 and older, where Obama has an outright majority — again in defiance of the national trends.

On party affiliation, McCain is winning as well.  He takes 11% of Democrats, as opposed to 7% of Republicans voting for Obama.  He beats Obama by five points among independents, 44%-39%.   Regionally, he does surprisingly well in the Twin Cities (trails by only four points) and the heavily union Iron Range (trails by three).  McCain could win this state, perhaps even more so after Sarah Palin’s performance in the debate.

Survey USA also polled on the Senate race, and the Republicans have more good news.  Al Franken has now dropped ten points behind Norm Coleman, who leads 43%-33%.  Dean Barkley, the major third-party candidate, has now gained 19% support for his bid against Coleman.  The protest vote appears to have split Coleman’s opposition as Franken loses more and more credibility as a candidate.  Coleman has lost little ground in this race, but Franken has seen more than ten points fall off of his support.