(AP) A new poll shows Hennepin County Attorney Amy Klobuchar with a big lead over Rep. Mark Kennedy in the U.S. Senate race, with the election less than two months away.
The Star Tribune Minnesota Poll, published Monday, showed the Democrat Klobuchar leading Kennedy, a Republican, 56 percent to 32 percent. That's similar to a margin found in a July poll. Independence Party candidate Robert Fitzgerald remains at 3 percent; other candidates garnered less than 1 percent.
A sense by many that the nation is on the wrong track, mounting disapproval of President Bush and an energized DFL base all appear to be factors in the gap, the newspaper said.
Klobuchar is ahead of Kennedy in virtually every demographic category that the poll measured and has extended a lead among moderates and independents over the summer. The poll, taken Wednesday through Friday among 820 likely voters, has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.
The Kennedy campaign sharply criticized the poll. Communications director Joe Pally, in a news release, called it "another blatant attempt to influence, rather than report on the U.S. Senate race." He said the poll showed a "ridiculous lead" for Klobuchar. Ben Goldfarb, Klobuchar's campaign manager, said that while he expects the race to tighten considerably in the coming weeks, the poll results echo what the campaign has seen while crisscrossing the state.
"Everywhere we go we are hearing that Minnesotans are ready for change from the failed policies of Kennedy and Bush," Goldfarb said.
Three in five likely voters said the nation is on the wrong track, while only one in three said it's headed in the right direction. More than 60 percent of the latter group back Kennedy, a three-term congressman representing the Sixth District.
Kennedy also has improved his standing among Republicans, 77 percent of whom support him, and conservatives, where he draws 62 percent.
But Klobuchar has nailed her base even more tightly. She has 92 percent of DFLers, 85 percent of liberals - plus 27 percent of conservatives.
Klobuchar leads widely in Hennepin and Ramsey counties but also has a 14-point lead in the surrounding metro counties and has strengthened her lead in outstate Minnesota, where she now has 52 percent to Kennedy's 35 percent, the poll found.
Fifty-eight percent of women said they were likely to support her, compared with 29 percent for Kennedy. But Kennedy does only a little better among men - 35 percent compared with Klobuchar's 53 percent.