Wellstone's Ratings Under 50 Percent

A statewide poll shows support remains virtually equal for Senate candidates Paul Wellstone and Norm Coleman in one of the nation' s more closely watched races.

After months of campaigning, Wellstone, the two-term Democratic incumbent, is favored by 47 percent of likely voters surveyed in the Star Tribune Minnesota poll. Forty-three percent favor Coleman, a Republican and former St. Paul mayor.

Green Party candidate Ed McGaa drew 3 percent, while 5 percent had no opinion. The poll of 812 Minnesotans was conducted June 20 to 24 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.

The race could influence which major party controls the chamber.

The latest poll shows 49 percent of respondents identifying themselves as DFLers or leaning toward the DFL, while 38 percent say they are Republicans or Republican-leaners. Thirteen percent claim no affiliation.

Wherever either candidate has found an advantage, the other has discovered a way to balance it off. For example, Wellstone holds sway among seniors -- 56 percent to 34 for Coleman -- but Coleman has gained ground with the youngest voters. Among 18-to 24-year-olds, Coleman has 38 percent to Wellstone' s 35.

Some of the more telling figures are Wellstone' s hold on moderates and independents, both groups whose votes the candidates are clamoring for. Among moderates, Wellstone leads 51 percent to Coleman' s 35. Wellstone also leads 41 percent to 25 among independents.

A February Minnesota Poll showed Wellstone at 45 percent and Coleman at 44.