While Barkley isn’t running the kind of full-scale campaign that would ordinarily get him much traction, he’s receiving plenty of “none of the above” votes from Minnesotans who are tired of the personal attacks coming from Coleman and Franken.
While this normally would benefit Coleman, since most elections are referendums on the incumbent and having two or more alternatives to the incumbent thereby divides the anti-incumbent vote, Barkley is doing so well that he must be taking votes away from both men.
I have long had doubts as to whether Franken could win the votes of a majority of Minnesota voters because of his controversial history. But Barkley’s strong showing means that the Democrat may be able to win the Senate race with as little as 40 percent of the vote, a number that does not seem unattainable for Franken.
Some Democratic operatives have been considering whether it might be necessary for Franken, or more likely the DSCC, to attack Barkley to try to pull liberal (or at least anti-Coleman) voters away from the Independence Party nominee.
But that’s a risky strategy that could, in theory, benefit Coleman, and it would seem less likely if Coleman and Franken are locked in a very tight race in the final weeks of the election campaign.
Barkley isn’t likely to win the Minnesota Senate race in November, no matter how nasty the race gets, but the two major-party candidates will need to try to figure out whether, and how, to deal with him as Election Day approaches.
Barkley is a long shot. He's a long shot who has climbed his way to 19% in the most expensive US Senate race, with an extremely limited budget. If Barkley could raise $500,000, this race could get even more interesting.
The most recent poll indicates that 10% of Republicans and 19% of Democrats polled support Barkley. Coleman has support of 39% of Independents and Franken has support of 65% of Democrats, similar to the September primary figures.
I have no doubt, especially on the heels of Barkley's campaign achieving 19%, the DSCC will step in and smear Barkley over the next month.