A new poll released today shows DFLer Al Franken and Republican Sen. Norm Coleman running practically even in Minnesota's U.S. Senate race.

The Quinnipiac University poll has Franken slightly ahead of Coleman, 38 to 36 percent, with Independence Party candidate Dean Barkley holding steady at 18 percent.

Franken may be benefitting somewhat from Barack Obama's coattails in Minnesota, said Clay F. Richards, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

Several recent polls have shown Franken moving ahead of Coleman. The Star Tribune Minnesota Poll, conducted two weeks ago, showed Franken with a nine-point lead. Barkley has been running close to 20 percent in recent polls.

In late September, Coleman was ahead of Franken in the Quinnipiac poll, 49 to 42 percent. Quinnipiac polls taken last summer gave Coleman leads ranging from 10 to 15 percentage points.

Quinnipiac surveyed about 1,000 likely Minnesota voters last week and again this week. The margin of error, plus or minus, is 3 percent to 3.1 percent. The poll is conducted in partnership with the Wall Street Journal and washingtonpost.com.

Kevin Duchschere • 612-673-4455