Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Recent News
Home / News / Two takes: KSTP gubernatorial poll

Two takes: KSTP gubernatorial poll

[This was originally published in the May 22, 2009 issue of the PIM Weekly Report.]

Two takes: KSTP gubernatorial poll: Little ado about nothing

by Steve Perry

When I went to KSTP’s website this morning to check out last night’s poll on the 2010 Minnesota governor’s race, it was nowhere to be found on the homepage. Or, for that matter, on the politics page. I found it only when I searched the site for “Pawlenty poll.” And that may be the most telling measure of its significance.

What’s the going rate for conducting public opinion surveys like this one, I wonder? No matter the sum, I would have appeared on camera for half as much to say that a) Tim Pawlenty has greater name recognition than any of his announced or rumored Democratic challengers, and b) his re-election chances depend on the coming year’s fallout from his budget cuts. KSTP and I would both be money ahead, and everyone else would know just as much as they do with poll results in hand.

KSTP/SurveyUSA has Pawlenty beating depressive former U.S. Sen. Mark Dayton and incurably sunny Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak — the two best-known brands on the DFL shelf at present — by 4 and 5 percent, respectively, and seven others by spreads ranging from 11 to 19 points. From this, KSTP infers in its headline that “Despite budget, Pawlenty’s approval stays strong.” Perhaps that conclusion came from Hubbard Broadcasting’s crystal ball, because the poll contains no questions about Pawlenty’s job performance.

The survey might have come closer to gauging the governor’s standing if it had included a Pawlenty-vs.-generic-Democrat question, as electoral polls conducted before an opponent is selected usually do. That approach has its flaws, too, since generic politicians almost invariably outpoll real ones. But it would have afforded us a glimpse of whether, in the abstract, Minnesotans want to see Pawlenty renew his lease on the corner office or not.

Next up: Do Minnesotans prefer candies and sodas they’ve heard of to ones they haven’t? Here’s guessing the answer is yes.

DFL Candidate DFL % Pawlenty %
Dayton 43% 47%
Rybak 42% 47%
Coleman 37% 48%
Entenza 37% 51%
Gaertner 36% 50%
Bakk 34% 52%
Marty 34% 51%
Anderson Kelliher 34% 51%
Thissen 32% 51%

Here’s the full poll from SurveyUSA [.pdf link]

Two takes: KSTP gubernatorial poll: Ain’t too shabby for Pawlenty
by Sarah Janecek

The KSTP poll is nothing but good news for GOP Gov. Tim Pawlenty. While Republicans (including me) in the 2000 and 2004 presidential races hoped and tried to read election results as proof of Minnesota turning from blue to red (or at least purple), the 2008 contest put Obama over McCain by 10 points, and Minnesota, nationally, back in the blue. For Pawlenty to come out ahead in each KSTP matchup bodes well early in the Obama administration, when the bloom is still on that rose.

Pawlenty has also taken an enormous pounding the last few years, and, particularly this past legislative session. To be ahead when you’re governor during the state’s largest budget deficit crisis and when the economy is in the tank is extraordinary. It’s times like these when voters put poxes on all incumbent houses. The Survey USA poll was in the field just a few days after Pawlenty announced his unallotment, no special session, no government shutdown strategy, and it didn’t become clear to the public, let alone many DFLers who knew better, that this strategy was airtight and is exactly what happened. How that plays out the next few months will affect Pawlenty’s standing in the polls more than any other event during his tenure.

The anti-Pawlenty crowd is fond of noting that Pawlenty won both his gubernatorial elections by pluralities, not majorities, because of three-way contests. For Pawlenty to be ahead in a two-person matchup matters in a possible third-term calculation. I was surprised Democrats were unable to convince the 2006 “Independence” party candidate Peter Hutchinson to stay out of the race. Former DFL Attorney General Mike Hatch lost to Pawlenty by one percentage point that year, and but for Hutchinson’s 6-ish percentage draw from Democrats and Independents, Pawlenty probably would have lost.

Not surprising to me are the top three percentage-getters in the KSTP poll. For Dayton, Rybak and Coleman, it’s about name ID. [And for Coleman, he might thank the unrelated Norm Coleman and related brother former Star Tribune columnist Nick Coleman for the surname gift.] Rybak?! Please, Democrats, give us Rybak, who will have no traction in the suburbs or greater Minnesota, given his urban mayoral track record.

One final note: It doesn’t appear that gender matters so far, given how poorly both Gaertner and Kelliher polled.

Leave a Reply