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Under fire for her remarks about Barack Obama and Congress, Rep. Michele Bachmann is effectively tied with Elwyn Tinklenberg in the Sixth Congressional District race, according to a SurveyUSA poll conducted for KSTP-TV.
Democrat Tinklenberg leads Bachmann, a Republican, 47 percent to 44 percent, within the poll's margin of error of plus or minus four percentage points. Independence Party candidate Bob Anderson was favored by 6 percent.
The survey of likely voters was conducted Monday and Tuesday, using recorded announcer voices, not live interviewers, to ask the questions. It came during a period when Bachmann was trying to explain her remark last week that Obama "may have anti-American views" and her call for a media "exposé" of Congress.
Both campaigns found good signs in the poll.
Tinklenberg spokesman John Wodele said the results are in line with an internal survey a couple of weeks ago by Democrats that showed Bachmann holding a slim lead.
"We were gaining on her and the momentum was going our way even before she made those comments," Wodele said, adding that the flap over Bachmann's remarks probably had some impact.
"It's not a big surprise," said Bachmann spokeswoman Michelle Marston. "We always knew this was going to be a tight race."
Referring to the recent controversy, Marston said the poll result "doesn't seem like a very big lead to me ... to be within the margin of error at the height of all of this."
The results are consistent with another analysis finding a tightening contest in the Sixth, a district with a strong record of supporting Republicans. It's now considered a toss-up by the nonpartisan Cook Political Report in Washington, which tracks House races across the nation and had rated the district a likely Republican win a week ago.
SurveyUSA stressed that the contest is volatile and the poll results do not reflect the full impact of reports that Tinklenberg raised more than $1 million after Bachmann's remarks. The poll also was conducted as the National Republican Congressional Committee canceled advertising that it had scheduled to run from next Monday through the Nov. 4 election.
The poll showed that Tinklenberg was favored by 53 percent of women and Bachmann by 41 percent. Bachmann was favored by 48 percent of men, while 42 percent favored Tinklenberg.
Bachmann did best among likely voters ages 35 to 49, with 49 percent saying they would vote for her and 44 percent for Tinklenberg. He did best among people 65 years and older, with 56 percent saying they would vote for him and 38 percent for Bachmann.
The poll suggests that Tinklenberg may have neutralized the impact of gun owners, a group that often favors Republicans. Forty-eight percent of gun owners said they would vote for Bachmann and 44 percent for Tinklenberg. Bachmann has been endorsed by the National Rifle Association but Tinklenberg received an "A" rating from the group.
Pat Doyle • 651-222-1210