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Rasmussen: Ted Stevens Down 8 Points; Norm Coleman Up 4

10:14 AM, Oct 30, 2008 • By GARY ANDRES
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Two new polls in closely watched Senate races deserve note. First, in Alaska, Rasmussen released its first results post conviction in the Stevens/Begich race.

Stevens now trails by 8 points. The shift merits mention because, yesterday--before adding this poll into the mix--the Real Clear Politics average had the Alaska race at a near dead heat. Some speculate Stevens might still win despite his conviction. This survey suggests voters are moving against him due to his legal problems.

In Minnesota, the news is better for Republicans. Incumbent Republican Norm Coleman now leads Democratic challenger Al Franken 43 percent to 39 percent. A week ago Franken, the former Saturday Night Live comedian, held a 41 percent to 37 percent edge. The race also includes a moderately popular independent Dean Barkley who draws about 14 percent of the vote. The independent's presence in the campaign makes for difficult prognosticating. The polls in this race are more volatile than the recent stock market swings.

Still, Coleman may have the advantage in the end. A Minnesota Republican political expert told me this:

"I think Coleman pulls this out. The state still has a bit of collective embarrassment over its last ‘novelty' choice when it elected former professional wrestler Jesse Ventura as Governor. Franken's background is working against him because people don't want to make the same mistake twice."

Norm Coleman is a truly talented and dedicated public servant. His defeat would represent a major loss for Minnesota and the U.S. Senate. He deserves reelection.