Minnesota Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison, the current Democratic National Committee deputy chairman, trails his Republican rival in the race for the state's attorney general post in a new poll released Tuesday.
Ellison sits 7 points behind Republican Doug Wardlow in the new poll commissioned by the Minneapolis Star Tribune and Minnesota Public Radio, as Wardlow leads 43 percent to 36 percent among likely voters.
Once seen as on a glide-path for the attorney general post, Ellison has been dogged by an ex-girlfriend's allegation that he abused her while they dated. Ellison has vehemently denied that accusation and an outside investigation by the state's Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party could not substantiate the allegation.
Still, the lackluster polling for Ellison suggests the accusation may be dragging his poll numbers down. The plurality of voters, 49 percent, are not sure whether they believe the allegation. Thirty percent believe it while 21 percent do not.
That question divides voters on clear partisan lines, with Republicans more likely to believe the allegation than Democrats. But a majority of both Democrats and independents are not sure whether Ellison committed the abuse in question.
Wardlow's 7-point lead in the poll comes one month after the same poll found Ellison with a 5-point lead. His campaign celebrated the lead in a statement from general consultant Kory Wood that says "the more closely Minnesotans look at Keith Ellison, the more disturbed they are by what they see."
Ellison's campaign hasn't released a public statement on the poll.
The Star Tribune/MPR poll also found Democratic Rep. Tim Walz with a slim, 6-point lead, in his gubernatorial bid against Republican Jeff Johnson. It also showed Democratic Sen. Tina Smith leading Republican Karin Housley by 6 points too.
Those margins were far closer than the NBC News/Marist poll from earlier this month, which found double-digit leads for both Walz and Smith while not polling on Ellison's race.
The Star Tribune/MPR poll conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling surveyed 800 likely voters between Oct. 15 and Oct. 17. It has a margin-of-error of 3.5 percentage points.