I want to believe. And one thing seems certain — Minnesota is actually in play again this time around. A new round of polls all show this state to be within single digits in both the presidential and Senate races, with the two Republicans gaining momentum in the final stretch … or perhaps a couple of the pollsters recognizing issues with their previous voter models. Even if that’s the cause, it still shows Trump trailing by less than five points in the Real Clear Politics’ polling average.
The RCP aggregate chart over the last three months shows the race tightening, both from gains by Donald Trump and a stall by Joe Biden:
Five weeks ago, the Star-Tribune/Mason-Dixon poll put Biden up only by six, which itself was quite a surprise from a polling series that normally overstates Democratic performance. The center-left MinnPost’s survey two weeks ago put Biden up by only five — and Biden didn’t get to 50% in either of them. Today, two new polls have Trump just within their margins of error in this race. First up, GOP pollster Trafalgar has the race at Biden 45.9% to Trump 43.7%, and Biden 48.0/44.8 when adding in leaners:
Note that Kanye West is a candidate on the Minnesota ballot, and might be creating some serious issues for Biden. West seems to be taken seriously enough here that West outpolls Libertarian Party nominee Jo Jorgensen. West does best with Asian voters (7.6%) and black voters (6.6%), two demos where Biden does otherwise overwhelmingly better than Trump (63.4/29.1 and 88.7/2.6 respectively, including leaners). Trump’s performance in the black-voter demo suggests that West is actually taking his black voters from Trump rather than Biden, but the Asian demo results suggest more that West’s pulling from Biden there.
Another West impact might be felt in MN-02 and MN-07, both now Democratic House districts but generally more Republican in culture. Trump leads by ten in MN-02 and by nearly 20 in MN-07, and West gets 3.4% and 6% of the vote in those, respectively. Even without West’s impact, though, Biden only gets to 40% in three of the eight House districts: the core urban districts of MN-05 (75/17) and MN-04 (66/26), and the first-ring suburban district of MN-03 (50/42). If the riots and damage dampen turnout in the Twin Cities area at all, Biden will be in big trouble.
Biden has a five-point lead in Survey USA’s final poll in Minnesota (47/42), but the MoE is ±4.9%. SUSA doesn’t break out the other candidates as Trafalgar does, but five percent are committed in that direction with another six percent undecided. The demos here are a bit less cheery, with Trump trailing in key age demos and only barely ahead in one of them (50-64YOs, 44/41). More cheery, however, are the regional demos, where Trump only trails 30/58 among urban voters, and 10% choosing an alternate candidate. That’s not a big enough lead for Democrats, who really have to roll up the score in MN-05 and MN-04 to counter the rural vote (Trump, 59/30). If Trafalgar is correct on its district-by-district demos, that might be a huge problem for Biden.
Among early voters, Trump trails badly at 64/26, but then again, Democrats are the voters turning out early. John Pudner calculates that Biden has to win 70% of the early vote. If that’s the case, then the Election Day turnout could swamp that lead — and that favors Trump by nearly twenty points, 54/35. Forty percent of all votes will come in on Election Day, SUSA finds, but only 31% say they have already voted.
Also, Jason Lewis is within the MoE of Tina Smith, 42/45. The demos tell a similar story as with Trump. Lewis had to get off the campaign trail this week after emergency hernia surgery, but he and Trump have a superior ground game in place, too. If it’s really this close, that ground game will make all the difference. At Instapundit, David Bernstein also notes that Trump’s favorability advantage will increase that ground-game advantage:
Survey USA shows Biden and Trump even in favorability, 44-44, with Trump way ahead in “extremely favorable,” 27% to 16%, suggesting greater enthusiasm for Trump. Seems to me these numbers put Trump in striking distance, and if I were going to expect any big surprise this year, it would be in the state that saw the worst summer rioting. Turnout is a huge wildcard, and Minnesota always seems to disappoint Republicans, but this is one to keep an eye on.
Bernstein’s not kidding about perpetual disappointment here. As I always emphasize, Republicans have not won a statewide election in Minnesota in fourteen years, which is one reason to remain skeptical. However, all the chaos here might have undermined Democrats’ standing as a governing party. Let’s just say that we should not be surprised to be surprised next week.