Poll: Nolan, Cravaack in Dead Heat for 8th District

Updated: 10/11/2012 7:33 AM KSTP.com By: Tom Hauser

Less than four weeks before Election Day, the race for Minnesota's 8th District Congressional seat is a dead heat.  

Democratic challenger Rick Nolan clings to the slimmest of leads, 46% to 45% over Republican incumbent Chip Cravaack.  The poll also indicates 9% of voters remain undecided, a big number so close to the election.  The SurveyUSA/KSTP poll has a "Margin of Sampling Error" of +/-4.2%, so it's impossible to say there's a clear leader.  The poll of 578 registered voters who are "likely to vote" was conducted Oct. 7 to Oct. 9.

By almost every measure, these two candidates remain locked in close political combat.  Cravaack leads by 10 points among men (50% to 40%), Nolan leads by 10 points among women (51% to 41%).  Cravaack leads by 15 points (51% to 36%) among voters age 18-49. Nolan leads by 11 points (52% to 41%) among voters over age 50.

In the poll, voters were also asked which candidate will be strongest on certain key issues.  More voters said Cravaack will be stronger on mining issues (34% to 31%) and do more to bring jobs to the district (41% to 38%).  On the issue of Medicare, more voters say Nolan will do a better job protecting the program (41% to 36%).

Cravaack has an advantage among independent voters, 53% to 36%.  Steven Schier, a political science professor at Carleton College, says that could be key for Cravaack to hold the seat. "Cravaack needs a large lead among independents in order to win this seat because this seat has more Democratic voters than Republican voters," Schier told 5 Eyewitness News.

The poll sample includes 35% voters who described themselves as Democrats, 28% Republicans and 32% independents.

In 2010, Cravaack beat long-time Democratic incumbent Jim Oberstar to capture the 8th District seat.  Cravaack also trailed Oberstar by one point in our final 8th District poll two years ago.

View the interactive crosstabs here.