Republican Sen. Norm Coleman retains a slight lead on DFL candidate Al Franken, but Franken apparently hasn't been hurt by recent controversies over his work for Playboy magazine and "Saturday Night Live," according to a Rasmussen Reports poll released Friday.
However, the poll indicated potential trouble on the horizon for Franken in the shape of former Gov. Jesse Ventura, who has said he's thinking about entering the U.S. Senate race as an independent candidate.
The poll of 500 likely voters, taken Wednesday, shows Coleman with 48 percent to Franken's 45 percent. That's almost unchanged from a Rasmussen poll released two weeks ago that showed Coleman up 47 to 45 and well within the poll's margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.
But the poll also tested the impact of Ventura, who has until mid-July to decide whether to enter the race. If the former governor runs, 24 percent of poll respondents said they would back him, compared with 39 percent for Coleman and 32 percent for Franken. Five percent were undecided.
At the same time, 60 percent of respondents said that Ventura shouldn't enter the race. Twenty-seven percent said he should, and 13 percent were undecided.
In the past couple of weeks, Franken has been dogged by Republican attacks involving a sexually explicit fantasy article he wrote eight years ago for Playboy and a 1995 story about "Saturday Night Live" that told of him proposing a joke about rape in a brainstorming session for the program.
But Franken's poll numbers against Coleman haven't budged, even though Friday's poll found that 62 percent of respondents said they had somewhat or very closely followed the stories about Franken.
In the past two weeks, Franken's favorability rating has moved down by 1 point, from 47 to 46 percent, while his unfavorable rating has gone from 49 to 50 percent. Coleman's favorable rating rose from 49 to 51 percent, and his unfavorability rating dipped from 49 to 45 percent.
Kevin Duchschere • 612-673-4455