The Managing Director of Mason-Dixon Polling Brad Coker says based on the results of the latest survey of voters it's obvious the war in Iraq is costing President Bush support in Minnesota.
"Support for the war has eroded over time," Coker said. "We haven't polled this is a couple of years, so there has been a pretty big dropoff since the last poll that we did on this issue. But that's not surprising. The national polls have taken the same drop."
Mason Dixon interviewed 625 registered Minnesota voters last week for the latest Minnesota Public Radio/St.Paul Pioneer Press commissioned poll. It has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus four percentage points.
According to the results, just 3 in 10 Minnesotans give President Bush a good or excellent job performance rating. Two years ago when Mason-Dixon put the same question to Minnesota voters, 52 percent gave Bush a good or excellent rating.
"I am totally unhappy with our president," said Ernest Taus of Crookston.
Taus, who said he mostly votes Democratic, was one of the survey participants. Taus said he's not happy with President Bush over tax and spending issues, but more than any other issue he's upset about Iraq.
He is not alone.
According to the survey, 63 percent of Minnesota voters disapprove of President Bush's handling of the war. Sixty-one percent do not believe the war has been worth fighting
"We're into something that we can't win," Taus says. "We started something we had no business being in and you know we're not fighting terrorism over there, we're causing terrorism. "
More than half of those surveyed -- 55 percent --said the U.S. should establish a timetable to withdraw troops from Iraq.
Unlike nearly two thirds of the poll respondents, Mary Hobbs of St. Paul thinks the country is on the right track. Hobbs applauded the president's performance.
"I really believe that the way the world situation is right now that we need to be supportive of the decisions that were made," Hobbs said, "and to just keep going because the mindset of the people that we're dealing with is such that they're looking for us to back down, and we just can't."
Hobbs said she's not surprised with the lack of confidence in the president. She thinks more than anything it's a factor of impatience. Americans, she said, want quick easy solutions that simply aren't there in the war on terrorism. With the mid-term elections quickly approaching, Minnesota State University - Mankato political science professor Joseph Kunkel said there is no way the poll results can be interpreted as a good sign for Republicans.
Kunkel says the GOP strategy is for candidates to distance themselves from President Bush. "The National Republican Senate Committee and other national Republican organizations have been instructing candidates on how to focus on local issues more to prevent this election from being a national referendum on President Bush," he said.
Samantha Kingsbury of Rochester gave the president high marks in the poll.
Kingsbury said she thinks Minnesota voters are too smart to use the November election to cast protest votes against the Bush White House. Instead she thinks voters will consider Republican candidates on their own merits.
Poll respondent Elmer Wahl of Champlin said he voted for Bush two years ago but is now furious with the Republican president. Wahl said he'll be voting in November, but not for anyone who has anything to do with the GOP.
"No matter who's running as a Democrat I'm going to have to vote for them because I feel that the powers behind the scene have control of Bush," Wahl said. "Bush doesn't make those decisions. Somebody behind him makes those decisions and we've got to break that power because it's going to turn into a dictatorship."
While most of the numbers from the latest poll are not favorable in terms of President Bush the survey did find that slightly more Minnesotans approve than disapprove of the president's handling of homeland security and the war on terrorism.
And while Bush's 30 percent approval rating among Minnesota voters is extremely low, those surveyed expressed considerably more confidence in the Bush White House than in Congress. When asked whether they approved of the job Congress is doing, fewer than one in five -- just 17 percent -- said yes.
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