Could the Republican wave that looks about to wash across the nation reach as far as Minnesota’s Iron Range and unseat an 18-term Democrat?  Three months ago, this seat didn’t appear on anyone’s radar except Chip Cravaack — but the former Navy pilot has a lot more experience with radar than most others.  Survey USA’s poll released late yesterday shows the Republican challenger only one point behind James Oberstar, who has worked in Washington almost 50 years:

DFL congressman Jim Oberstar, accustomed to winning with 65% or more of the vote in Minnesota’s 8th Congressional District, finds himself running even with Republican challenger Chip Cravaack, heading into the final weekend of the campaign, a new SurveyUSA poll conducted for KSTP-TV in Minneapolis shows. Today, it’s 47% Oberstar, 46% Cravaack, a result within the survey’s theoretical margin of sampling error.

Oberstar holds almost all Democrats, his challenger holds almost all Republicans, but Independents in 2010, as they are doing in congressional districts across the country, break 5:3 Republican. Oberstar has an advantage among women, but the Republican has an offsetting advantage among men. Voters 50 and over favor Oberstar by 10 points; voters under 50 favor Cravaack by 14 points. If younger voters turn out in greater-than-usual numbers in this election, Cravaack will win. Those who rarely vote in midterm elections but who tell SurveyUSA they are certain to vote in this year’s contest back the Republican 5:4. Those who vote more frequently are divided. Voters who say they are more enthusiastic about voting in 2010 than they have been in prior years strongly back Cravaack; those less enthusiastic or no more or less enthusiastic than in the past strongly back Oberstar.

How long has it been since this district sent a Republican to the House?  Sixty-four years.  But the 8th CD has usually sent pro-life, fiscally conservative Democrats to Washington, which is exactly what Oberstar claimed to be.  After not only voting for ObamaCare and cap-and-trade but lobbying other Democrats to do the same, 8th CD voters now know that they sent a Nancy Pelosi clone.

And, hey — that’s been Betty McCollum’s job in MN-04.

The internals are definitely good for Cravaack.  He has a 24-point lead among independent voters, but he’s also pulling 11% of Democrats.  In the rural district, Cravaack has a narrow lead among those who own a gun, 49/44.  Most importantly, the 18-term incumbent has fallen below 50%, which indicates that the people of the 8th CD are looking for a change, and may have found their man in Cravaack.

Cravaack could shock the political world on Tuesday night.  He just needs one final push in the last three days.