Forget what the Star Tribune and Humphrey Institute polls have said over the past week.  Survey USA shows the gubernatorial race as essentially tied with four days left to go.  DFL nominee Mark Dayton clings to a one-point lead over Republican Tom Emmer, while Independence Party nominee Tom Horner is playing spoiler for someone:

Impossible to say who has the late advantage in the Minnesota Governor’s race, according to SurveyUSA’s final pre-election tracking poll for KSTP-TV in Minneapolis. DFL candidate Mark Dayton has never trailed, but neither in 3 polls has he led by more than 5 points. Today’s it’s Dayton 39%, Republican Tom Emmer 38%, Independence Party candidate Tom Horner 13%. Horner complicates any analysis of the race. The 1 point difference between Dayton and Emmer reported here does not have statistical significance. The contest should be reported as even. Each of the 2 leading candidates has a chance to win.

Independent voters split: 37% for Dayton, 37% for Emmer, 17% for Horner. Tea Party supporters back Emmer 21:1. Moderates break 2:1 for Dayton. Emmer has a slight advantage among men, Dayton has a slight advantage among women, but this Gender Gap is less pronounced than in many other 2010 contests nationwide, where men are breaking sharply Republican.

Interestingly, the race is a complete dead heat among cell-phone users, suggesting that their inclusion may not matter as much in this race.  Both Dayton and Emmer get 35% and Horner improves slightly to 15%.  The only real difference is that cell-phone only voters are less certain of their vote, with 15% undecided as opposed to 3% among those with landlines at home.

Emmer does better with younger voters, winning the 18-34 and 35-49 demographics, while Dayton wins the 50-up categories.  Neither scores a majority in any of the age groups, while Horner takes a consistent 12-14% in each.  Emmer loses slightly more Republicans than Democrats (5%, 2% respectively) but Horner gets more Democrats than Republicans (13%, 11% respectively).  Emmer edges Dayton among those who “always” vote in midterm elections, 40/38, and in this cycle it seems as though that would be an advantage, since Republicans and independents are more likely to turn out this year.

There is one demographic that should give Emmer a ray of hope in the last few days.  He trails Dayton in the Twin Cities, where Democratic power resides — but only by five points, 37/42.  He also trails in the heavily union Northeast, 35/45, again closer than one would imagine for a Republican nominee.  If Chip Cravaack can manage a big turnout in MN-08, that edge in the Northeast may disappear and carry Emmer to victory on Tuesday night.

Emmer leads by 13 in southern Minnesota, and Randy Demmer may need that boost.  According to an earlier Survey USA poll in the 1st CD, Tim Walz has opened a nine-point lead over his Republican challenger.  Note, however, that Emmer’s numbers have apparently improved since:

In an election for US House of Representatives from Minnesota’s 1st Congressional District today, 10/27/10, incumbent DFL candidate Tim Walz remains atop Republican challenger Randy Demmer, 50% to 41%, according to SurveyUSA polling conducted for KAAL-TV in Rochester MN. Compared to an identical SurveyUSA poll 2 weeks ago, Walz has extended his lead, from 5 points then to 9 points now. Walz has traction with women, with voters age 50+ and with lower-income voters. Demmer has some momentum among younger voters. Independents break narrowly for the Democrat, one of the few places in the country in 2010 where that is true. In MN-01, the contest for Governor of Minnesota is effectively even, DFL candidate Mark Dayton 42%, Tom Emmer 41%. .

“Southern MN” presumably also encompasses part of MN-07, where Lee Byberg is running hard against incumbent Democrat Collin Peterson, so the new poll showing a 13-point Emmer lead in the region has to be benefiting at least one of the two Republicans.