I don't want to tempt fate, but things are looking pretty bad for the GOP in the coming elections. For instance, Al Franken looks like he's giving i
October 7, 2008

alfranken_headshot_web_e5e72.jpg I don't want to tempt fate, but things are looking pretty bad for the GOP in the coming elections.

For instance, Al Franken looks like he's giving incumbent Republican Norm Coleman nightmares in Minnesota. He's ahead by 43 to 34 percent in the latest poll there, published Saturday by Princeton Survey Research Associates International. The new poll suggests that one reason for Franken’s gain is voters’ reaction to the abrasive advertising in the campaign. The Independence Party candidate, Dean Barkley, is also drawing support from Coleman says the poll.

And there's more good news both for Dems looking at voter registration as a way to tip the scales in November, as well as for third party aficionados.

The poll detected a significant increase in Minnesotans who label themselves as Democrats. Forty-two percent of likely voters identified themselves as Democrats, compared with 27 percent who said they were independents, and 26 percent who said they were Republicans.

According to the poll, Coleman’s support has slid among men and those in upper- and lower-income brackets. Last month, Coleman led Franken among men, 46 to 36 percent; in the recent poll Franken is ahead, 45 to 34 percent.

Coleman continues to get strong support from white evangelicals, but white Catholics are about evenly split between the two leading candidates. Both Coleman and Franken are struggling equally to keep their respective bases from drifting to the Barkley camp; each has the support of 78 percent of their party members, while 12 percent of Democrats and Republicans alike support Barkley.

And Barkley has cut into Coleman’s former lead among independents, leaving them divided almost evenly among Coleman (34 percent), Barkley (33 percent) and Franken (29 percent).

That's just one race, but it's a snapshot of trends that seem to be pretty widespread across the country. Over at National Review, K-Lo calls all this "terrifying" - and with good reason. The Republican brand is in the tank, their voters are turning to independents rather than endorse another four years of Bushism, and Democratic get-out-the-vote efforts are having a real impact. As my Newshoggers colleague Ron Beasley noted over the weekend, Colorado looks like it's going blue and Elizabeth Dole is "virtually certain to lose" in conservative North Carolina. McConnell in Kentucky, Smith in Oregon and Chambliss in Georgia are looking beatable too. In fact, Dems might well take the magic 60 Senate seats. No wonder the McCain campaign and Republicans down-ticket are all turning to attack ads of the nastiest kinds. They're all terrified.

But Ron also writes that it isn't over yet - and that a whole lot of down-ticket races might hinge on the presidential debates. That's the way it goes in American Idol elections, which the Republicans decided they wanted to run. He adds:

If it's not over already it could be after the debate tomorrow night. McCain needs an exceptional night and he needs for Obama to have a really bad one. Neither of those are likely. Unless the debate is a real game changer in McCain's favor expect the Republican Party to cut the McCain campaign lose and spend what money the party has trying to save some Senators.

However, that economy thing just isn't going to go away and despite McCain's spinning it's stuck to the de-regulating GOP like a bad smell.

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