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Minnesota Poll: Walz approval at 52%, leads Jensen in governor’s race

Among 800 voters polled, Minnesotans said the issues most influential in determining their vote for governor were the economy and jobs, crime and abortion.

MINNEAPOLIS — With less than two months until Election Day on Nov. 8, incumbent Minnesota Governor Tim Walz maintains a lead over Republican challenger Dr. Scott Jensen, according to a new KARE 11/Star Tribune/MPR News Minnesota Poll. However, more than 10% of voters are still undecided.

WHO ARE YOU VOTING FOR IN THE GOVERNOR’S RACE?

The poll, conducted among 800 registered voters between Sept. 12-14 with a 3.5% margin of error, found that 48% of Minnesotans plan to vote for Walz on Election Day, while 41% say they’ll vote for Jensen.

Support for Walz and Jensen falls strongly along party lines, with 95% of Democrats saying they’ll vote for Walz and 91% of Republicans saying they’ll vote for Jensen.

"After bringing unemployment to historic lows, investing in public schools, and enacting the largest tax cut for Minnesotans in recent history, it's not surprising to see that voters approve of Governor Walz's leadership," Walz-Flanagan campaign manager Nichole Johnson said to the Star Tribune in a statement. "It's also not surprising to see that Minnesotans don't approve of Scott Jensen and his extreme agenda of defunding public schools, undermining Minnesota's elections and banning abortion for victims of rape and incest. Regardless of polling results, our campaign does not take anything for granted, which is why Governor Walz and Lt. Governor Flanagan are working tirelessly to connect with communities across Minnesota,” Johnson added.

Among Independent voters polled, 41% plan to vote for Walz and 33% intend to vote for Jensen. Nearly a quarter of Independent voters are still undecided ahead of the November election, about 24%.

According to the poll, Walz only leads among Hennepin and Ramsey County voters, with 68% of residents in that area saying he has their vote. Jensen leads in metro suburbs, southern Minnesota and northern Minnesota, where he currently has 53%, 49% and 51% support, respectively. 

"If Tim Walz's 'One Minnesota' were a policy and not a slogan, you wouldn't see this stark disparity in support between Greater and Metro Minnesota," Dr. Scott Jensen said in a statement to the Star Tribune. "But, this poll proves what we already know: Tim Walz has divided us, not united us, through out-of-control crime, crushing inflation, and a rapidly failing education system. And, despite being a four-year incumbent governor, he's under 50% support less than a week before early voting begins. So, it's no surprise he's hiding from debates because he doesn't want Metro Minnesota to understand what Greater Minnesota already knows: he has failed to lead. Despite Tim Walz's reluctance to face voters, I'll continue to travel across the state, introduce myself to Minnesotans, and convince every undecided voter that I'm the best candidate to unite us and Heal Minnesota,” Jensen continued.

Credit: KARE

However, there’s still a decent amount of support to be won by either candidate. In Hennepin and Ramsey Counties, 11% are undecided; in southern Minnesota 13.5% are undecided; and in northern Minnesota, 11% are undecided as of Sept. 14.

Walz has more support from women than men, with 54% of female respondents saying they’ll vote for the sitting governor. Thirty-four percent of women polled plan to vote for Jensen.

Among men, 41% of voters said they’ll vote for Walz; 49% said they’ll vote for Jensen.

Walz also leads among young voters: 61% of respondents ages 18-34 said they’ll vote for the Democrat this fall compared to  27.2% of voters in the same age group who will vote for Jensen.

Walz also leads among voters 35-49, but by a much smaller margin: 48% of those polled will vote for Walz, and 41.5% will vote for his GOP challenger.

Jensen leads Walz in the 50-64-year-old age group, 46% to 43%; and the candidates are in a near-even split among voters 65 and older, with Walz at 44% and Jensen at 44%.

WHAT TOPIC IS MOST INFLUENTIAL IN DECIDING YOUR VOTE FOR GOVERNOR?

Credit: KARE

Poll respondents were asked to identify which public policy issues are most influential in determining their vote for governor. Among the 800 voters polled, three issues were most influential: the economy and jobs, crime, and abortion.

According to the poll, the economy was most important for 32% of voters, crime was most important for 23% of voters and abortion was most important for 22% of voters.

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF GOV. TIM WALZ’S JOB PERFORMANCE?

Credit: KARE

First elected as governor in 2018, Walz currently has a nearly 52% approval rating among Minnesotans, according to the 2022 KARE 11/Star Tribune/MPR News Minnesota Poll. Another 42% of Minnesotans disapprove of his job performance and 6% are undecided.

Walz has a nearly 98% approval rating among Democrats polled and just a 3% approval rating with Republicans. Fifty percent of Independent voters said they approve of Walz’s performance, 38% disapprove and about 12% are undecided.

Voters polled in Hennepin and Ramsey Counties showed significantly more support for Walz, with 72% saying they approve of his job performance. In the metro suburbs, 44% said they approve; in southern Minnesota, 42% approve of Walz’s performance; and in northern Minnesota, just 39% of voters polled gave him the thumbs up.

Approval for Gov. Walz was more evenly split among different age groups: His approval rating among voters 18-34 is 63%, 35-49 is 53%, 50-64 is 48% and those 65 and older was 47%.

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF PRESIDENT BIDEN’S JOB PERFORMANCE?

Credit: KARE

November will mark two years since Joe Biden defeated then-President Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election. KARE 11/Star Tribune/MPR News Minnesota Poll data shows nearly 46% of Minnesotans approve of the president’s performance, while 49% disapprove.

A majority of people who voted for Biden in 2020 say they approve of his job in the White House at 87%, while 6% disagree. Another 7% of previous Biden voters are undecided about how they feel. Only 2% of Minnesotans who voted for Trump in 2020 say they approve of Biden’s job thus far.

Most Minnesota Democrats appear to be happy with the work President Biden has done in office, with 91% of those polled saying they approve of his performance. Another 4% of Democrats disapprove, and 4% are undecided.

Biden’s approval rating among Republicans is a mere 2%.

Among Independent voters, Biden’s approval rating is more split: About 40% approve of his performance in office, 49% disapprove and 11% are undecided as of September.

President Biden has strong support in Hennepin and Ramsey Counties where 64% of voters say they approve of the work he’s done while in office. In that region, 29% disapprove and 7% are undecided.

Across the rest of the state, including the metro suburbs, southern Minnesota and northern Minnesota, nearly 60% of voters in each region disapprove of Biden.

METHODOLOGY

The findings of this Star Tribune/MPR News/KARE 11 Minnesota Poll are based on live interviews conducted Sept. 12 to Sept. 14, 2022, with 800 Minnesota registered voters who indicated they are likely to vote in the November general election. The poll was conducted for the Star Tribune, Minnesota Public Radio News and KARE 11 by Mason-Dixon Polling and Strategy Inc.

Those interviewed were randomly selected from a phone-matched Minnesota voter registration list that included both land-line and cell phone numbers. Quotas were assigned to reflect voter registration by county. The interviews were conducted via land line (28%) and cellphone (72%).

The margin of sampling error for this sample of 800 registered voters, according to standards customarily used by statisticians, is no more than ± 3.5 percentage points. This means that there is a 95 percent probability that the "true" figure would fall within that range if all voters were surveyed. The margin of error is higher for any subgroup, such as a gender or age grouping.

The self-identified party affiliation of the respondents is 35% Democrats, 32% Republicans and 33% independents or other.

Sampling error does not take into account other sources of variation inherent in public opinion surveys, such as nonresponse, question wording or context effects. In addition, news events may have affected opinions during the period the poll was taken.

The demographic profile of this poll of likely voters is an accurate reflection of their respective voter populations. This determination is based on more than 100 statewide polls conducted by Mason-Dixon in Minnesota over the past 34 years – a period that spans eight presidential election cycles that began in 1988.

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