Two of Minnesota’s three major governor candidates can take heart in a poll released just before the weekend.
But for Tom Horner of the Independence Party, the KSTP-SurveyUSA poll news is not good.
The poll shows Democrat Mark Dayton in front with 42 percent of the vote, followed by Republican Tom Emmer with 37 percent. That still is a close race, given the chance for error in a survey.
However, the poll showed Horner missing his goal of passing the 20 percent mark by mid-October. He had said he needed to hit that level to be competitive, but the SurveyUSA poll showed him falling to 14 percent, one of his worse showings in some time.
Horner needs to be doing well among independent voters to win, but both of the other two major candidates do much better in that area, and the normally late-to-decide independent category matches the overall survey with just 4 percent who do not know who they will support.
On the heels of the SurveyUSA poll, Horner’s campaign sent a message to supporters saying that his campaign has its own “carefully researched poll of the true Minnesota electorate” along with the claim that it shows him gaining momentum.
“As all candidates acknowledge, and as Minnesota gubernatorial history suggests, even polling two weeks out from the election has been an unreliable predictor in an unpredictable state,” Horner Campaign Manager Stephen Imholte wrote.
On that point, Republican operative Brian McClung did some research that showed Democrat Mike Hatch leading the governor’s race at this point in 2006, Tim Penny in 2002 and Hubert “Skip” Humphrey in 1998. All lost.
“So while polls are interesting, be sure and read them with a healthy dose of skepticism, especially in Minnesota,” McClung said.