Will the Republican wave reach as far politically to the one state that never voted for Ronald Reagan in his two presidential races?  The jury is still out, according to the latest Rasmussen poll, but that’s good news for Tom Emmer.  While local polling has put his opponent, Mark Dayton, out in front by a wide margin, Rasmussen shows the race in a virtual dead heat:

Democrat Mark Dayton and Republican Tom Emmer are still in a virtual tie in Minnesota’s gubernatorial contest.

The latest Rasmussen Reports statewide telephone survey of Likely Voters shows Dayton picking up 40% of the vote, while Emmer draws support from 38%. Independence Party candidate Tom Horner remains a distant third with 15%. One percent (1%) prefer a different candidate, and five percent (5%) are still undecided.

The difference between this poll and those from the Minneapolis Star-Tribune and the Humphrey Institute comes down to sampling.  Eric Black noted the wide gaps for the DFL in the previous polls, seven and ten points respectively.  In this poll, Rasmussen has the GOP up by a point.  None of those seem likely for Minnesota and the enthusiasm gap present in the state and national electorates; I’d predict a D+1 or D+2, but we’ll see in 25 days.

Besides, this electorate is about as evenly divided as any we’ll see.  Barack Obama has a 50/49 approval rate in a state he won by a wide margin two years ago.  Tim Pawlenty has a 49/48 approval rating, too.  Thirty-eight percent think the economy is improving; 37% think it’s getting worse.  Fifty percent want ObamaCare repealed, while 47% oppose it, and it’s 41/35 for those with strong feelings either way.  Among independents, it’s 49/50 on repeal.

This race has a wild card, independent Tom Horner, a former Republican, who gets 15% of the vote.  However, at the moment, it looks like he takes slightly more from Dayton (12% of Democrats) than Emmer (9% of Republicans).  His biggest impact is among independents, where he comes in second at 31% to Dayton’s 34%, leaving Emmer trailing at 27%.  That will make it tougher, but the last three gubernatorial races here had major third-party candidates in the mix — and in 1998, Jesse Ventura won, to the state’s almost-immediate regret.

It’s too close to tell from any of the issues on which Rasmussen polls how late-deciding voters will break.  The most encouraging news may be the tilt to the GOP candidates in MN-07 (Lee Byberg) and MN-08 (Chip Cravaack) in two Democratic-held CDs.  If those break for Byberg and Cravaack, it may well be enough to make the difference in the gubernatorial race.