The latest Star Tribune/MPR News/KARE 11 Minnesota poll released this week asked likely voters about this year’s elections for governor, attorney general and secretary of state. The survey also asked Minnesotans about abortion, marijuana legalization, sports betting, crime and inflation. Let’s dive into some of the survey’s findings.
First, a review: Interviews were conducted Sept. 12-14 with 800 likely Minnesota voters—that is, registered voters who indicated they would likely vote in the November general election. The poll had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. The margins of error for all sample subgroups will be higher, and previous Minnesota polls taken at different times with different samples will naturally vary. More information on the latest survey methodology, a demographic breakdown of respondents and a map of survey regions can be found on the results pages.
Women and non-white voters keep the DFL afloat
The new poll found that DFL Governor Tim Walz holds a comfortable but not overwhelming 7 percentage point lead over his Republican challenger, former state senator Scott Jensen. But with 10% undecided voters, this race could potentially swing either way.
Perhaps the most striking finding of the new survey is gender bias. Walz enjoys a 20 percentage point lead on the women’s side, but trails by eight percentage points on the men’s side. This gender gap has also shown up in the other statewide races. DFL Attorney General Keith Ellison is deadlocked with GOP challenger Jim Schultz, though Ellison leads by 17 points with the women, while trailing by 16 points in the men. In the Secretary of State contest, the survey showed DFL incumbent Steve Simon led by 8 points overall and 20 points with the women, but trailed GOP candidate Kim Crockett by 7 points with the women. men.
The race gap for DFL candidates was even wider, according to the poll. The three DFL candidates enjoyed a nearly 50-point lead with non-white voters. Meanwhile, Walz and Simon were essentially tied with their opponents among white voters and Ellison saw a 5-point deficit.
The urbanization of the LDF continues
It’s no surprise that the base of support for Democrats in Minnesota is in the Twin Cities. The new poll found Walz ahead of Jensen by 48 percentage points in Hennepin and Ramsey counties. But the governor trails in all other regions by much smaller, but still substantial margins — 12 percentage points in the rest of the metro (the nine counties surrounding Hennepin and Ramsey) and northern Minnesota, and 11 percentage points in southern Minnesota. The other DFL candidates included in the poll saw similar urban/rural gaps.
This split also shows up in Walz’s jobs approval rating, with more than 2 in 3 Hennepin/Ramsey voters saying they approve of his performance as governor, but only 4 in 10 approve in the rest of the state. . This matches the last Minnesota poll in September 2021.
As several readers have pointed out on social media, these regions are not perfect and any attempt to carve up the state will have downsides. The regions used in this survey were designed so that Hennepin/Ramsey counties and the rest of the metro would have roughly comparable populations (and similar margins of error), and that northern and southern Minnesota would approximate also. Undoubtedly, these larger areas hide pockets of DFL support in other urban areas of the state, but the broader trend of DFL strength retreating from historic Greater Minnesota strongholds (the Iron Range, for example) in the Twin Cities subway shows no signs of reversing.
Abortion Seems to Motivate Democrats
Following the United States Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and removing federal protections for abortion access, more than 8 in 10 DFL voters said they opposed the decision. When asked to name the most influential political area in deciding their gubernatorial vote, just over a third of DFL voters and Walz supporters (there is obviously a lot of overlap between these groups) chose abortion, compared to about 1 in 10 of both. Republicans and Jensen supporters and 1 in 5 independents.
On the Republican side, 41% said the economy/jobs was the most influential issue, as did 39% of independents. The economy was also the top issue for Jensen voters, with 42% choosing him.
Many more Republicans and Independents chose crime as their top issue
When asked whether crime had increased or decreased in their community over the past few years, nearly two-thirds of GOP voters said it had increased, compared with just over half of independents and slightly less than half of DFL voters. “Law and order/crime” also ranked as the second most influential issue for Republicans and Independents in determining their votes for governor, with 38% and 24% choosing this option, down from 10. % of DFL voters.
Still, the vast majority of respondents from all demographic groups said they had not feared being threatened or attacked in their neighborhood in the past year.
Most voters in Minnesota have high or moderate confidence. The votes will be accurately counted in 2022.
Republicans and Trump voters were the biggest outliers on this question, with just 2 in 10 respondents in both groups saying they had a high degree of confidence that ballots would be counted accurately. But nearly two-thirds of every demographic group said they had high or moderate confidence in the vote count, with 3 in 10 saying they had “not much” confidence.
Meanwhile, 100% of DFL voters and more than 8 in 10 independents said they had high or moderate confidence in the vote count.
Legalization of hemp-derived THC products hasn’t increased support for legal weed
Hemp-derived THC edibles became legal in the state in July, raising questions about whether that would bolster support for the full legalization of marijuana. But that doesn’t appear to be the case – and support has actually dropped in some key demographics, according to the new poll.
In February 2020, the poll found that 51% of Minnesota voters supported legalizing recreational marijuana, while 37% opposed it. As of September 2022, 53% of similar voters said they support legalizing weed and 36% oppose it.
These relatively flat numbers mask significant increases in support for legalization among certain demographic groups — including Democrats, independents and voters over 50. However, those gains were more than offset by declining support among men, Republicans and, oddly, younger voters. The February 2020 poll found that 3 in 4 voters aged 18-34 supported legalization, but only 60% said they were in favor of legal pot in the recent poll.
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