Poll shows Humphrey maintaining silod lead over Coleman, Ventura

ST. PAUL (AP) — DFL gubernatorial candidate Hubert H. “Skip” Humphrey III’s solid poll lead over his major-party rivals is holding firm, according to a poll published Thursday.
“They’re good numbers, but there’s one poll that counts,” Humphrey said, alluding to the Nov. 3 election.
St. Paul Mayor Norm Coleman saw hope in the results.
“I have no doubt whatsoever that we’re moving forward,” he said. “Humphrey wouldn’t have pulled out of debates if he were confident with where he’s at.”
Humphrey has declined invitations to a couple of major debates in the final weeks saying he plans a statewide bus tour.
Humphrey was favored by 44 percent of those surveyed for the Saint Paul Pioneer Press, KARE-TV and Minnesota Public Radio. Coleman was 13 percentage points behind at 31 percent, with Reform Party candidate Jesse Ventura at 15 percent.
Ten percent of those polled said they were undecided.
Humphrey’s lead over Coleman was similar to results from polls taken for the same news organizations in June and September. The only significant changes since then were the decline in the percentage of undecided voters and the growth in support for Ventura.
In the race to replace Humphrey as attorney general, the numbers were less conclusive.
While DFLer Mike Hatch led Republican Charlie Weaver by a 35-to-28 percent margin, another 37 percent of the group polled was undecided.
Chris Georgacas, chairman of Coleman’s campaign, said the campaign’s internal polling showed a tighter race than a 13-point margin. At the same time, he said, he was relieved the margin was less than the 20-point lead Humphrey had in the Star Tribune/KMSP-TV Minnesota Poll taken shortly after the primary election.
Ventura said he doesn’t pay much attention to opinion polls. “I’m pleased I’m going up,” he said.
Humphrey won a five-man Democratic-Farmer-Labor primary for governor on Sept. 15 after weathering criticism from candidates from his own party. Coleman had only token primary opposition, and had hoped that Humphrey would be severely wounded during the primary.
According to the latest poll, that didn’t happen. Humphrey had a 14-point lead over Coleman before the primary, and his margin in this week’s poll held virtually steady at 13 points.
The polling company Mason-Dixon Political/Media Research interviewed 825 Minnesota registered voters by telephone from Saturday through Tuesday. All said that they regularly vote in state elections. The margin of error was plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
While men were divided among Humphrey and Coleman supporters, women went for Humphrey by a 50-to-26 percent margin. And Humphrey maintained geographical leads over Coleman in the Twin Cities (an 8-point lead) and outside the Twin Cities (a 16-point lead.)
Hatch and Weaver, the candidates for attorney general, both said they were pleased with the poll results.
“We knew going into this that we would be behind, because we were running against someone who has run for governor twice,” Weaver said.
Hatch, who ran for governor in 1990 and 1994, said, “What this is saying is we both better be working hard in the last two weeks.”