Emmer out to early lead in MN Governor race

A new KSTP poll gives Democrats some bad news on the big statewide race in Minnesota.  Without Obama on the top of the ticket and no US Senate seats at risk in this cycle, the Republicans appear to have a big advantage in the governor’s race.  Tom Emmer leads all potential Democratic candidates (called DFL in Minnesota) outside the margins of error:

Election day is six months away, but for now it appears Democrats won’t have an easy time in their attempt to win the Minnesota governor’s office for the first time in 24 years.

Exclusive 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS-SurveyUSA poll results show Republican Tom Emmer as the early front-runner in three hypothetical races.

His lead coincides with a surge in Minnesota voters who self-identify themselves as Republicans. …

According to the poll of 588 registered voters who say they’re likely to vote, Emmer leads [DFL-endorsed candidate Margaret Anderson] Kelliher 41 to 33 percent. [Independence Party candidate Tom] Horner is at 9 percent. Another 17 percent are undecided.

Democrats will have a primary fight, which Republicans avoided with a consensus endorsement on the third ballot of the GOP state convention a week ago.  Kelliher will have to fight Matt Entenza and former US Senator Mark Dayton for the nomination, with the primary scheduled for August.  That means Democrats will be hammering each other more than Emmer and will mainly erode their own standing until just a few weeks before the general election.

Even further bad news is that all three Democrats do equally well against Emmer.  In all three matchups, Emmer wins 41% or 42% of the vote.  Dayton trails Emmer 42/34, while Entenza trails 42/31.  In a surprising development, Emmer even beats Kelliher among women, 39/36, even though Kelliher has a shot at being Minnesota’s first female Governor.

The poll has one more piece of bad news for the DFL as a whole.  According to the KSTP poll, Republicans have a one-point edge among likely voters, 36/35, with 24% identifying as independents.  I don’t have any historical information on that, but I’d be surprised if the GOP has ever had that kind of advantage in this state.  The Tea Party movement has shown remarkable strength in a state considered to be one of the homes of Midwestern progressivism, and it could be that this state may turn a very reddish-purple in constitutional offices in November.