In each of the last three election cycles, Democrats have made the Minnesota 6th Congressional District a targeted race — especially so after Rep. Michele Bachmann became a nationally-known conservative activist.  Elwyn Tinklenberg made it close in the big Democratic wave of 2008, coming within four points of Bachmann in the R+7 district.  This year, though, a new Survey USA poll shows that Democrats have failed to mount a serious challenge:

In an election for United States Representative from Minnesota’s 6th Congressional District today, 09/16/10, incumbent Republican Michele Bachman is elected to a 3rd term, according to a SurveyUSA poll conducted exclusively for KSTP-TV in Minneapolis-St. Paul.

Today, it’s Bachman 49%, DFL State Senator Tarryl Clark 40%. Compared to an identical SurveyUSA poll released 2 months ago, little has changed: each candidate is up 1 point. Under the surface, there is offsetting movement: Clark has reduced slightly Bachman’s advantage among men and among Independents, and has gained ground among voters over age 50; Bachman, meantime, is now even with Clark among women and has increased her advantage among middle-aged voters.

In part, this is due once again to the lack of a compelling challenger.  In 2008, Tinklenberg represented the old-guard DFL, and his rush to blame the St. Anthony Bridge collapse on tax cuts (it was a design flaw and renovations that caused it) added nothing to his credibility.  This year, the DFL got behind a state legislator who demanded tax hikes to close a state budget gap in a cycle where tax hikes are unpopular almost everywhere.

Bachmann still has a handy lead among independents in this survey, leading 49/35.  She wins handily in the income demos, leading by nine among those who make less than $50K and seven by those who make more.  Bachmann is weaker among older voters than younger voters, a bit of a surprise considering the strong presence of St. Cloud State University in her district.  Splitting the women’s vote at 45 and leading among men by 52/36 are probably the key takeaways.  Bachmann hasn’t crested the 50% mark, but that’s due to the third-party Independence bid of Bob Anderson, who gets a minimal six percent of the overall vote, and who appears to be pulling his votes from Clark.  He only gets 3% of the self-identified conservatives, for instance, but 10% of the moderates, which break for Clark.

Democrats want to take Bachmann out of the national mix and curtail her activism by nationalizing her elections.  Instead, she’s cruising to a convincing victory while helping other Republicans win in tough districts.