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U of M poll shows Hatch ahead in governor's race

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A new poll shows Democrat Mike Hatch with 6-point lead over Republican Tim Pawlenty in the race for governor.  

The poll, released by the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance at the University of Minnesota's Humphrey Institute, found that 45 percent of those polled support Hatch, 39 percent support Pawlenty and 9 percent support Independence Party candidate Peter Hutchinson.  Seven percent were undecided.  

The U of M's Larry Jacobs says Hatch is benefitting from a public that is sour on President Bush and the Republican Party.

"The situation in Iraq, the Foley scandal and other events appear to have eroded the support for the Republican Party in Minnesota," says Jacobs. "You can think of it as a name brand that suffered some bad public relations."

Despite the national trend away from Republicans, Jacobs says the race is still too close to call.

"We've got about 7 percent of likely voters who are truly undecided, even after we push them.  You have about two out of 10 Democrats who are not yet supporting Mike Hatch, and they may be able to be lured over to Pawlenty," Jacobs says. "We may have some Pawlenty Democrats.  And then about half of Peter Hutchinson's support is pretty soft."

Jacobs says education and health care are the top two issues among those surveyed. 

The poll surveyed 663 people between Oct. 23-28. It has a margin of error of 3.8 percentage points.