New poll results released Thursday morning show Republican U.S. Rep. John Kline trailing DFL opponent Mike Obermueller, as well as a generic Democratic opponent, in the 2nd Congressional District. The polling, funded by House Majority PAC, a Democratic superPAC, was conducted by Public Policy Polling.
In the survey, 46 percent of likely voters said they would be more inclined to vote for a Democrat in 2014, compared to 36 percent who planned to vote Republican. The remaining 18 percent weren’t sure. The figures narrowed somewhat when respondents were asked about actual candidates: 42 percent said they would vote for Obermueller, and 38 percent planned to vote for Kline, leaving 20 percent of likely voters still undecided.
Kline himself was found to have a 42 percent unfavorable rating in the district, while 32 percent of likely voters have a positive view of the five-term incumbent.
The poll acts as something of a snapshot of how the district feels about its incumbent following the recent government shutdown and the last-minute deal to avoid hitting the federal debt ceiling.
The prolonged period of gridlock left elected officials of all stripes facing low poll numbers, though no single entity was hit harder in public opinion than House Republicans. Kline initially favored the partial shutdown unless President Barack Obama agreed to delay funding for the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, but ultimately voted for the deal that ended the stalemate. A separate question in Thursday’s PPP poll found that 50 percent of the district’s likely voters supported ending the shutdown, and 30 percent opposed the package.
Despite the positive findings, Obermueller, a former one-term state legislator from Eagan, still faces an uphill climb against Kline on several counts. Should he secure the Democratic nomination — two other DFL candidates have declared for the race — Obermueller would earn a rematch against the Republican, who won their election contest 54 percent to 46 percent last year. In the presidential contest, the district was virtually dead even, supporting Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney at 48.9 percent each.
Kline also holds an enormous financial advantage over Obermueller. According to Federal Election Commission reports released last week, Kline raised $370,000 last quarter and has $1.3 million in cash on hand. Obermueller, who declared his 2014 candidacy in April, raised just $73,600 from July through September and has $119,000 in the bank.
Most handicappers still give Kline the advantage in a contest to defend his seat. The most recent assessment of the race by the Rothenberg Political Report has CD 2 among its 51 seats “in play,” but rates the district “Republican favored.”
The PPP survey, released to The Hill early Thursday morning, was conducted on Monday and Tuesday this week, and has a margin of error of 3.4 percent. Of those surveyed, 31 percent identified themselves Democrats, 27 percent as Republicans and 42 percent self-identified as independent or unaffiliated voters.