DFL Senate candidate Al Franken's recently-publicized tax troubles appear to be making an impression with Minnesotans, according to a new poll.
A poll conducted last week by SurveyUSA for television station KSTP found that 59 percent of adults in the state said they would be less likely to vote for Franken in light of his failure to pay more than $50,000 in income taxes to 17 states. Thirty-nine percent said it would make no difference or would make them more likely to vote for him.
In a follow-up question, 51 percent said the former comedian and satirist should withdraw from the race, while 38 percent said he should remain in it.
Depending on the question asked, between 500 and 615 adult Minnesotans were interviewed; the poll's margin of sampling error ranged between 4 and 4.5 percentage points.
Andy Barr, Franken's campaign spokesman, dismissed the poll results, calling the poll "deeply troubling from a spin standpoint, but from a social studies standpoint, as well."
Barr called the wording of the initial poll question "deeply flawed" because it doesn't mention the fact that Franken overpaid his taxes in Minnesota and New York, his official states of residence.
"It tells one side of the story when there are two equally important sides," Barr said. "Once you ask a question that's so slanted that it amounts to a push poll, it makes the other subsequent questions worthless."
Online over the weekend, other Franken supporters also branded the poll a push-poll, which, under the guise of opinion polling, conveys disinformation about a candidate or issue.
The state Republican Party immediately tried to draw attention to the poll results, sending an e-mail to reporters that crows, "Voters Notice Franken's Tax Troubles."
The SurveyUSA today poll also showed that Republican incumbent Sen. Norm Coleman leading Franken in a head-to-head matchup, 52 percent to 42 percent.
A poll conducted in late April by Rasmussen Reports showed Coleman ahead 50 percent to 43 percent.
In a head-to-head matchup of Coleman and DFLer Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer, the SurveyUSA today poll shows Coleman ahead 55 percent to 36 percent. Matched against DFLer Darryl Stanton, Coleman leads 53 percent to 35 percent.
Bob von Sternberg • 612-673-7184