WASHINGTON - Two new polls out today in the 8th Congressional District race show DFL challenger former U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan with a razor-thin lead over incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Chip Cravaack.
But the results should be treated with caution, since the polls were paid for by Democratic-aligned groups that are spending heavily to oust Cravaack.
One poll of 405 likely voters from Aug. 26-27, paid for the House Majority PAC, Friends of Democracy and two labor unions found Nolan drawing 47 percent support to Cravaack's 44 percent and says Nolan's lead widens to 50 percent when respondents were read "balanced, positive paragraphs about each candidate." The firm behind the polling, Gerstein Bocian Agne Strategies, did not provide more information about other questions it asked respondents.
A second poll, also of 405 likely voters from Aug. 21-23 and paid for by the Democratic Congressional Committee, the campaign arm of U.S. House Democrats, shows Nolan with 45 percent support compared to 44 percent for Cravaack and also show Nolan's lead widening once respondents hear about positive biographical details of both candidates. The DCCC also announced Friday that Nolan was being added to the party's "Red to Blue" list of candidates in potential swing districts.
According to OpenSecrets.org, the House Majority PAC has already spent more than $92,000 air ads opposing Cravaack while Friends of Democracy has spent $129,000. MPR's Poligraph gave a recent Friends of Democracy ad against Cravaack a "misleading" rating.
Democrats held the 8th District seat for decades and lost it narrowly to Republicans in 2010. The district has generally supported Democratic candidates for president though it has become more conservative in recent years.
The polls arrive less than a month after Nolan emerged as the DFL's candidate in the 8th after a long and bruising primary contest that has left his campaign with just under $88,000 in the bank as of July 25th. By contrast, Cravaack's campaign had more than $900,000 on hand.
"National Democrats released incomplete results of a poll to prop up former Congressman Nolan's struggling campaign," said Ben Golnik, a Cravaack advisor, in a statement.
From Minnesota Public Radio on August 31, 2012.