Jim Graves campaign argues SurveyUSA poll showing Bachmann ahead is "an aberration"

The Graves campaign insists there's still hope for Bachmann's challenger 15 days out from the election.
The Graves campaign insists there's still hope for Bachmann's challenger 15 days out from the election.

The first independent poll of the 2012 6th Congressional District campaign, conducted by SurveyUSA and released last week, contained bad news for Jim Graves and Democrats hoping to remove Rep. Michele Bachmann from power.

-- Michele Bachmann "likely to win re-election this year," according to new independent polling
-- Bachmann and Jim Graves now neck and neck as Michele's favorability tanks

It showed Bachmann up 50-41 (margin of error 4.1 percent), a split that prompted LeftMN's Tony Petangelo to acknowledge that "Bachmann, barring some unforeseen development, is likely going to win re-election this year." That's not the message Graves supporters wanted to hear just weeks before election day.

But in an email exchange with City Pages shortly after we reported on the SurveyUSA poll, Kate O'Reilly, communications director for Graves for Congress, cited a recent internal poll showing that the race remains tight and argued the SurveyUSA poll "is off."

The Greenberg Quinlan Rosner poll cited by O'Reilly was conduced October 3 and 4 (the SurveyUSA survey is actually more recent, having been conducted October 9 through October 11) and shows Bachmann leading by a slim 47-45 margin -- a split solidly within the poll's 4.9 point margin of error.

It's the third 6th District House race survey conducted by Greenberg this election -- the first, from June, showed Bachmann up 48-43, and the second, from August, showed her lead shaved to 48-46.

"The [SurveyUSA] poll seems like an aberration," O'Reilly wrote. "The numbers have been consistent all along, and in this new [Greenberg] poll, they follow that trend."

SurveyUSA, however, has a history of accurately pegging Minnesota congressional races. In fact, in 2010, renown political campaign analyst Nate Silver ranked SurveyUSA as the second most-accurate polling firm out of the 261 who had conducted polls in the previous 10 years.

Furthermore, yesterday, the Star Tribune published the results of an October 16 poll the paper commissioned showing Bachmann ahead by a 51-45 split (the margin of error is three percent). Put it all together and the picture that emerges is one of a close race where Bachmann enjoys a slim but stubborn lead and already has the support of around half of 6th District voters.

Graves, however, is undeterred.

"The only poll that counts is November 6," Graves told the Strib. "We're going to continue working diligently to the last minute. ... We're going to continue getting the message out and hope that the electorate has an informed opinion on the day of the election. And if they do, I think it's going to go our way."

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