Al Franken's in good shape heading into his reelection cycle. Our newest poll finds 52% of Minnesota voters approving of him to 41% who disapprove. Those solid numbers are pretty consistent with where we've found him for most of the last year.
One thing that may help Franken's reelection chances, on top of his own popularity, is the weak Republican bench in the state. The top choice of GOP voters in Minnesota to take on Franken is Michele Bachmann. 45% say they would like her to be their candidate with no one else even coming close- John Kline is at 19%, Chip Cravaack at 13%, Erik Paulsen at 11%, Laura Brod at 4%, and Rich Stanek at 2%. Bachmann fares equally strongly with voters in the party who identify as 'very conservative' (46%), 'somewhat conservative' (45%), and moderate (also 45%).
The problem with GOP voters in the state wanting Bachmann as their Senate standard bearer is that she does the worst of anyone we tested against Franken, trailing him 54/40, including a 50/39 deficit with independents. Only 35% of voters in the state have a positive opinion of her, compared to 59% who see her in a negative light. The desire of Minnesota Republicans to nominate Bachmann suggests they didn't learn much from their failures last year.
That said, no one else comes particularly close to Franken either. John Kline trails him 49/41 and Erik Paulsen's at a 50/39 disadvantage. We tested Norm Coleman too even though he's indicated that he's not going to run against Franken, and Franken leads him by a 50/44 margin. That's a good measure of how Franken's standing has improved over the last four years- he's basically 6 points stronger now than he was at the time of his election in 2008.
It's early in the cycle but at least for now Al Franken does not appear to be among the more vulnerable incumbent Senators next year.
Full results here