A surprising new poll shows Republican Doug Wardlow now leading Democrat Keith Ellison in the race for Minnesota’s attorney general.
According to the new MPR News and Star Tribune poll, 43 percent of voters said they plan to support Wardlow in the midterms, while 36 percent plan to vote for Ellison. The poll marks a seven-point increase for Wardlow, who trailed Ellison by five points in September.
Of those polled, 35 percent said they hold an unfavorable opinion of Ellison, compared to just 8 percent who said the same of Wardlow. The Republican, however, is still struggling in the name-recognition category, with 56 percent of respondents saying they have never heard of him. Ellison’s high-profile positions in Congress and the Democratic National Committee have likely helped him with recognition among voters, just 18 percent of whom say they don’t recognize his name.
“When you’re a candidate running for office with that high profile and your favorable rating is more than 10 points under your negative rating, typically that means you don’t have a whole lot of room to grow your support base,” Mason-Dixon Polling CEO and Managing Director Brad Coker told MPR, attributing Wardlow’s success to Ellison’s weaknesses.
Since August, the media have been fixated on a domestic-abuse allegation leveled against Ellison, who has repeatedly denied the accusations. But the allegation, combined with other controversial elements of his past, still seem to be hurting him in the polls, at least according to one Minnesota resident.
“Well, it’s not so much that I like him. It’s that I don’t like Ellison,” Jay Thomas told MPR, saying he wouldn’t vote for Ellison unless “they could prove” that he “was innocent.”
The poll was conducted between Oct. 15 and Oct. 17., before Sunday night’s prime-time debate broadcast live across the state. Throughout the debate, Wardlow repeatedly attacked Ellison over the abuse allegations, his past ties to prominent anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan, and his support of convicted cop killers, but it remains to be seen what effect the debate had on voters.
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