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Published February 01 2008

Poll: Senate candidate Al Franken leads Democrats in Minn esota race

ST. PAUL (AP) - Former ``Saturday Night Live' star Al Franken leads the field of Democrats vying to challenge Republican Sen. Norm Coleman, according to a new poll from Minnesota Public Radio and the University of Minnesota's Humphrey Institute.

The poll found Franken was the Democratic choice for 32 percent of those polled by telephone last week, compared with 17 percent for trial attorney Mike Ciresi. The margin of error was 3.2 percentage points.

Franken's lead widened among 478 Democrats ? 42 percent picked him, compared with 18 percent for Ciresi. The margin of error among Democrats was 4.5 percent.

Half of those surveyed approved of Coleman's job performance, and the poll found Coleman running about even against both Franken and Ciresi if the election were held now.

Low levels of support were measured for Democrats Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer and Jim Cohen, who dropped out of the Senate race on Friday. Telephone polling was done from January 20 to 27.