A new Minnesota presidential poll continues to show a closer contest than is common in the state, with Hillary Clinton up by 7 points.
However, if Minnesota voters are like Americans in general, half were waiting for debates to begin to make up their minds.
A just-released SurveyUSA poll from the Twin Cities’ KSTP-TV indicates that if the election were held before the Monday, Sept. 26, opening presidential debate that 46 percent would vote for Democrat Clinton while 39 percent were behind Republican Donald Trump.
The poll, with a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points, was taken about a week ago.
A poll conducted a week earlier by the Minneapolis Star Tribune gave Clinton a 44 percent to 38 percent advantage, a smaller Clinton advantage than earlier polls the newspaper had released.
“Minnesota is in play,” Larry Jacobs of the University of Minnesota Humphrey Institute told KSTP. “Trump is only 6 or 7 points behind and has not campaigned actively in Minnesota, whereas Democrats are counting on Minnesota and have actually put some money in. So I think these are surprising results.”
Jacobs called the results “a wake-up call” for Clinton.
Democrats traditionally do well in Minnesota. In the last presidential campaign without an incumbent, in 2008, Democrat Barack Obama beat Republican John McCain by 10 points. The two closest recent Minnesota races were in 2004, when Democrat John Kerry won by 3 over the GOP’s George W. Bush and in 2000 when Democrat Al Gore beat Bush by 2 points.
Like the Star Tribune poll, SurveyUSA shows that Clinton does much better with the women vote and in the Twin Cities.
In southern Minnesota, Clinton leads 46 percent to 35 percent, but Trump holds forth 50 percent to 39 percent in the northwest and 47 percent to 32 percent in western Minnesota.
Slightly more than half of the supporters of each candidate told SurveyUSA they “enthusiastically” support their pick. That means about half could switch based on debates that began Monday.
A Reuters-Ipsos poll released hours before the debate showed voters were looking forward to a series of debates to make up their minds, even as states like Minnesota already have begun accepting early ballots.
Nationally, half of likely voters think the debates will help inform their decision of whom to support, including 10 percent who say they were not leaning either way, according to the poll.
Another 39 percent said the debates will not help and 11 percent said they did not know how the debates would affect them.
In a strong signal that most viewers hope the debates bring clarity, 72 percent of respondents said they want to see moderators point out when a candidate in the tight race says something that is untrue.
“It helps the audience, particularly me, to recognize what’s bull crap and what’s real,” said Harvey Leven, 63, a teacher from Farmington Hills, Mich. “It’s easy for the candidates to quote a statistic and people accept it.”
Reuters news agency contributed to this story.