Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Recent News
Home / News / PPP: Dayton, Franken lead GOP opponents head-to-head
Among Republican gubernatorial candidates, Rep. Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove, had the greatest name recognition.

PPP: Dayton, Franken lead GOP opponents head-to-head

Gov. Mark Dayton has an approval rating of 49 percent. (Staff photo: Peter Bartz-Gallagher)

Gov. Mark Dayton has an approval rating of 49 percent. (Staff photo: Peter Bartz-Gallagher)

Gov. Mark Dayton‘s approval rating is below 50 percent, but he would win a series of hypothetical election matchups against Republican candidates if they were held today, according to new results from Public Policy Polling (PPP). The survey found 48 percent of likely voters approve of Dayton’s performance in office and 42 percent disapprove, with the remaining 10 percent unsure.

DFL U.S. Sen. Al Franken, meanwhile, has a 51 percent approval rating, and is also winning against each of his Republican opponents in that race, most of whom were proven to have poor name recognition at this point. Franken’s approval is virtually unchanged from a survey PPP conducted in May, though his “disapproval” rating inched up from 42 percent to 43 percent.

Among Republican gubernatorial candidates, Rep. Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove, had the greatest name recognition, though much of it comes from people who say they would not support his candidacy. The former speaker of the House had an rating of 11 percent approval and 23 percent disapproval, and trails Dayton 48 percent to 38 percent when the two are paired against each other. Aside from Zellers, the other Republican gubernatorial candidates fared more or less the same on both counts, each scoring an approval rating between 4 percent and 8 percent and a disapproval rating between 16 percent and 19 percent.

Matched up against the governor, Jeff Johnson, Sen. Dave Thompson and businessman Scott Honour all finished similar to Zellers’ 38 percent mark, and Dayton collected exactly 48 percent on each of the head-to-head questions.

Though Zellers was judged harshly overall, he was significantly more popular than his fellow GOP candidates among Minnesotans who cast their votes for Mitt Romney in 2012. Among that subsection, Zellers was viewed favorably by 18 percent and unfavorably by 13 percent, besting Thompson’s 13 percent to 11 percent favorable/unfavorable split with Romney voters.

The gubernatorial polling section also includes former legislator Marty Seifert and Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont, neither of whom has decided whether they will seek the office. Seifert (8 percent favorable, 19 percent unfavorable) and Rosen (6 percent favorable, 17 percent unfavorable) performed comparably with the rest of the Republican field.

As for the U.S. Senate candidates, state Rep. Jim Abeler, R-Anoka, Mike McFadden, state Sen. Julianne Ortman, R-Chanhassen, St. Louis County Board member Chris Dahlberg and activist Monti Moreno also fell along a similar arc, with none rating higher than 10 percent approval, though most respondents answered “not sure,” signaling a lack of name recognition on the GOP side. Pitted against the DFL incumbent, the Republicans earned nearly identical results to the series of gubernatorial contests proposed: Franken earned about 50 percent against each GOP option, and no Republican scored higher than 40 percent.

PPP president Dean Debnam called the approval ratings for Franken and Dayton “positive,” and said they set both incumbents up well heading into their reelection battles.

“Combine [their approval ratings] with their GOP opponents being largely unknown, and it’s the recipe for double digit leads one year out from election day,” Debnam said.

A separate portion of the poll asked 305 typical Republican primary voters to judge their party’s field in both statewide races. In the gubernatorial contest, Zellers leads with 12 percent, followed by Thompson (11 percent), Rosen (10 percent) and Seifert (9 percent). Johnson, who won last weekend’s Republican State Central Committee straw poll, finished fourth in PPP’s survey at 8 percent, while Scott Honour earned 6 percent; 44 percent of GOP voters weren’t sure who they would support.

On the U.S. Senate side, Abeler and Ortman tied with 12 percent among likely primary voters, with McFadden (11 percent) and Dahlberg (10 percent) close behind. Moreno received just 2 percent support, and 53 percent of Republican respondents had yet to make up their minds.

Interestingly, none of the statewide Republican candidates has a net-positive favorable rating among likely GOP primary voters. Zellers comes closest, with 16 percent support and 18 percent disapproval. In the U.S. Senate field, Ortman scored highest on both counts at 10 percent favorable and 22 percent unfavorable.

The same poll asked respondents about a pair of Democrats who were on the ballot last year but won’t be next time around. President Barack Obama has a 47 percent approval rating among likely Minnesota voters, and is disapproved of by 49 percent, making him the only Democrat in the poll who had a negative approval/disapproval score.  Most popular of all was DFL U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who enjoys 59 percent approval, and is judged negatively by only 33 percent of likely voters.

The statewide figures have a margin of error of 3.3 percent, and the section that isolates likely Republican primary participants has a margin of error of 5.7 percent.

Click for full results and crosstabs (PDF).



About Mike Mullen


  1. Who cares what the PPP poll supposedly says. PPP is run by leftists to support leftists. Meaningless

  2. Al I agree that PPP is left of center and would have agreed with you 3-4 years ago but PPP called every Minnesota race and the Presidential race within 1.5% points over the last few years. That was better than KSTP, MPR, Rasmussen, and Gallop. If you know of a better polling company please name it.

    Left or Right it is about accurate polling.
    A better response is polling at this time means very little; things can change quickly.

Leave a Reply