Minne-what, now?

Two polls out from Minnesota, one from the Star-Tribune and one from SurveyUSA, show that the state is now more competitive than it ever has been.  The only state in the nation to deny Ronald Reagan its electoral votes twice appears to be giving serious consideration to the prospect of President McCain and Vice President Palin.  (Hat tip for the Strib poll: Power Line.)

In addition, the latest national tracking polls from Gallup and Rasmussen both show McCain slightly ahead; Rasmussen shows him breaking the 50% barrier against Obama for the first time.

Analysis after the break.

Regarding Minnesota, this is not just bad news for Barack Obama.  It also stands as further evidence that professional unfunnyman Al Franken’s Senate campaign is sputtering, and that incumbent Senator Norm Coleman’s hold on his seat is solidifying.  Republican prospects in the Senate this year remain grim, but these polls will likely give one or two GOP Senate staffers second thoughts about that flying leap off the Capitol dome they’d penciled in.

I still think Minnesota’s a longshot for McCain, but Obama was ahead here by 13 points just four months ago.  That is a turnaround that cannot be ignored.  I’ll be watching closely to see how hard Governor Pawlenty campaigns for the ticket he might have been on.

As for the national campaigns, the 50% share in the Rasmussen poll is huge.  Not only is this McCain’s first majority showing from a major pollster, but this is where Obama was just a couple of weeks ago (during that short-lived mini-bounce of his).  Gallup’s tracking poll has shown McCain slightly ahead for over a week now; always by a statistically insignificant margin, true, but that margin grows more significant with each day it holds.  Meanwhile, another Rasmussen data point shows that more people (52% to 46%) think McCain will be the eventual winner over Obama in this election.  Rasmussen’s “Balance of Power” Electoral College tracker shows McCain ahead in that respect too, with 200 electoral votes to Obama’s 193 (though with “leaners” included Obama retakes the EC lead, 259-247).

I honestly cannot remember such a neck-snapping shift in momentum in so short a time in a presidential election.  We are indisputably in the throes of the Chinese curse condemning us to live in interesting times.

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