The U.S. Senate race in Minnesota between incumbent Sen. Tina Smith (D-MN) and Republican challenger Jason Lewis is now a statistical tie, according to a poll released on Wednesday by KSTP/SurveyUSA.
Smith leads Lewis by just one point, 43 percent to 42 percent, in the poll of 625 likely voters conducted between October 16 and October 20. Smith’s one point advantage over Lewis is well within the poll’s five percent margin of error.
Notably, the poll data released on Wednesday did not include any information about a head-to-head presidential match up in the state between President Donald Trump and Democrat presidential candidate Joe Biden.
The 2020 U.S. Senate race between Smith and Lewis had long been considered an almost certain victory for the Democrats, but the results of Wednesday’s poll suggest that the race is now a toss up.
Lewis, a former talk radio host and Congressman, has aggressively pursued a strategy this election cycle of campaign appearances and significant advertising in Greater Minnesota — the rural and small town part of the state outside of metropolitan Minneapolis-St. Paul that is traditionally Republican — in order to run up the score there to overcome traditional Democratic strength in the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, as well as some of the surrounding suburbs.
Smith’s once healthy nine point lead over Lewis has evaporated over the past two months, KSTP reported:
In mid-September Smith had a 47% to 36% lead over Lewis. Earlier in October she still maintained a seven-point lead, 44% to 37%.
“This Senate race could go either way and it’s a bit of a surprise because Tina Smith has had a lot more resources than Jason Lewis,” Carleton College political analyst Steven Schier told 5 Eyewitness News.
One thing fueling the tightening race is that Smith’s lead among women and suburban voters has largely evaporated. Schier says ads some outside groups have been running with highlights of negative things Lewis has said about women on talk radio don’t seem to be as effective as they once were.
Smith leads Lewis by 11 points in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area, 49 percent to 38 percent, but Lewis has a significant lead over Smith in the three other areas of the state that comprise Greater Minnesota.
In North East Minnesota, Lewis leads Smith by a stunningly high 23 points, 51 percent to 28 percent. In Western Minnesota, Lewis leads Smith by an equally large margin of 20 points, 50 percent to 30 percent. In South Minnesota, Lewis leads Smith by six points, 45 percent to 39 percent.
The gender gap in voting preference upon which Smith based her early lead has all but disappeared.
Forty-four percent of men support Smith and 44 percent support Lewis, while 43 percent of women support Smith and 40 percent support Lewis.
Similarly, Smith appears to have a ceiling of support at 40 percent among every age group, except voters over the age of 65, where she leads Lewis by 20 points, 57 percent to 37 percent.
Lewis leads Smith among voters age 50 to 64 by 11 points, 51 percent to 40 percent. Among voters age 35 to 49, Lewis leads Smith by five points, 44 percent to 39 percent.
Smith leads Lewis among voters age 18 to 34 by just six points, 39 percent to 33 percent, but an extraordinarily high percentage of these younger voters — 22 percent — remain undecided with less than two weeks to go until Election Day.
GOP challenger Jason Lewis’s strong showing in Wednesday’s poll suggests that Trump, who heads the Republican ballot in the state, may be well positioned to flip Minnesota’s ten Electoral College votes from Democrat to Republican for the first time in decades.
In 2016, Trump narrowly lost the state to Hillary Clinton by 44,000 votes.
The Real Clear Politics Average of Polls currently shows Biden with a 6.3 point lead over Trump in Minnesota.