A second major poll conducted by The New York Times and Siena College found Republican Pete Stauber with a 15-point lead over Democrat Joe Radinovich in the 8th Congressional District race. The poll marks a turning point from mid-September, when the Times and Siena measured a one-point lead for Radinovich.
The live poll, which recorded responses from 507 people over the weekend, showed Stauber with 49 percent and Radinovich 34 percent. Thirteen percent were undecided with a margin of error of 4.6 percent. Independent candidate Ray “Skip” Sandman was not included in the poll either time.
Stauber’s lead not only represents a large swing, but also closely mirrors President Donald Trump’s performance in the district in 2016, when he won by 16 points over Democrat Hillary Clinton.
Democrats across the nation felt a surge as the party confronted the confirmation hearing of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court, but lately the Republicans have been galvanized by the contentious confirmation, boosted in part by Trump’s attacks on Democrats over their handling of the appointment.
In the poll, Stauber held a nine-point lead among female voters and voters aged 65 and over, a nine point lead with Iron Range voters and a 10-point lead with independents. It also showed markedly higher approval ratings for Trump, who was one point down in September and 18 points up this time around, with a 55 percent approval rating.
Approval ratings for the candidates showed 36 percent approving of Radinovich and 35 percent disapproving of him. Stauber had a 48 percent approval rating and a 22 percent disapproval rating.
The 8th District is once again proving to be a financial battleground for campaign spending. In 2016, it was among the most expensive U.S. House races in the country. That doesn’t appear to be changing two years later as $7.1 million from outside groups has entered the race so far.
Republicans are sensing their best chance to flip the seat, which is held by three-term Congressman Rick Nolan, a Democrat. He defeated challenger Stewart Mills by 0.6 percent in 2016.
It is among the crucial swing seats as Democrats try to take back the House.
Many of the forecasters — Cook Political Report, Center for Politics and Inside Elections — have the 8th District listed as a tossup. FiveThirtyEight, however, has it as “likely Republican,” giving Stauber a five-in-six chance of winning the seat and Democrats a four-in-five chance of retaking the House.