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Peterson: Poll shows large lead in race for 7th District

WILLMAR -- U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson has released a poll he commissioned showing he holds a commanding lead in the race for Minnesota's 7th District seat in Congress.

Peterson, who has held the seat since 1990, said Thursday that he doesn't normally release his internal polling data. Peterson is chairman of the House Agriculture Committee.

However, he decided to do so this year, in part because MinnPost, an online news site, has suggested that the 7th District race is a close one.

Republican Lee Byberg of Willmar, Peterson's opponent, questioned the results of the poll, saying his own polling has shown Peterson with less support.

Peterson said the poll completed on Sept. 28 found that he was ahead of Byberg by a 34-point margin -- 54 percent to 20 percent. Two independent candidates have the support of 5 percent of the voters each, and another 25 percent are undecided.

Peterson said he also received a favorability rating of 63 percent and high marks for being trustworthy and doing what's best for the district.

Other polling data from his district have indicated that his support is particularly strong in some Minnesota Senate districts in the northern part of his district, Peterson said. The 7th District covers most of the western third of Minnesota and stretches from the Canadian border to south of Marshall.

"It's all good," Peterson said in a telephone interview Thursday.

When he's campaigning, "I hear the same things I've always heard," he said.

Farmers in the district are happy, he said, because recent weather is letting them get their crops out of the fields, and yields and prices are good.

He does get some questions he hasn't heard before, he said, about whether Democrats will retain control in Congress and how he's doing in his race.

He said he hopes the polling data will help calm some of the speculation about the race.

"There's all kinds of polls out there," Byberg said in a telephone interview Thursday afternoon. "We will know in 19 days. ... It's been an awesome experience, regardless of what happens."

As much as Peterson hears from voters who support him, Byberg said he hears from voters who are ready for a change.

People often call him and say they have always been Democrats, but they are done with the party, Byberg said.

Linda Vanderwerf

I cover education issues for the West Central Tribune and have worked for the paper since 1995. I have worked in journalism since 1981.

Follow me on Twitter: @lindavanderwerf

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