The results of a new statewide poll show strong support for DFL Gov. Tim Walz during the pandemic and that most Minnesotans favor a move to voting by mail for the November election.
The MPR News/Star Tribune/KARE 11 Minnesota Poll of 800 registered voters contacted between May 18-20 shows 65 percent approve of the job Walz is doing while 30 percent disapprove and 5 percent are undecided.
“I think overall he’s done a credible job, maybe a B or B-plus job, maybe even higher than that, in a very difficult situation,” said poll respondent James Robbins.
Robbins is a retired insurance marketing underwriter from Minnetonka who voted for Walz in 2018 and said he will do it again in two years if he has the chance.
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The governor’s numbers were positive in all regions of Minnesota. His strongest approval came in Hennepin and Ramsey counties, followed by the metro suburbs. Walz did better among women than men statewide. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
The three days of polling last week concluded on the same day that Walz made his latest announcement on the state’s COVID-19 response. Those guidelines allow restaurants to offer only outdoor dining and keep in place restrictions on churches and other activities. They have drawn significant pushback. Business owners and religious leaders were among those complaining loudly in recent days.
But Luke Peterson of Eagan said he believes the governor is concerned about safety.
“If he makes one call you have a group of people who are going to be mad. If he makes another call you’re going to have a group of people that’s going to be mad,” Peterson said. “You have to kind of weigh the decisions, and I think he’s choosing to keep people safe over everything else. That’s what I agree with, and that’s why I answered the poll the way I did.”
Jacob Domyanic, a poll respondent from Champlin, doesn't think Walz is doing a good job. He wants the governor to allow more types of businesses to reopen.
“People need to get back to work,” he said. “People need to get back in the gym for health reasons, for anxiety reasons, for peace of mind. I don’t believe another month is going to make a difference.”
Barbara Szurek, a business owner from Ham Lake, is also among those critical of Walz.
“I think he’s overreacted by shutting everything down and treating us like we’re children. We have rights, so we should be able to decide what we want to do.”
Szurek is also concerned about voting by mail, even though 59 percent said they support a change in state law to allow every registered voter to receive a ballot by mail for the November election. Thirty-seven percent opposed such a change and 4 percent were undecided.
Szurek is among those raising questions about election security.
“It’s just not the way to vote. When you’re supposed to vote you’re supposed to go to the polls and vote, and that’s the way it should stay.”
During the recently completed legislative session, DFL lawmakers made an unsuccessful push for voting by mail. Republicans strongly opposed the move. President Trump is also a vocal opponent. The partisan divide was reflected in the poll results with 97 percent of Democrats in favor of voting by mail and 74 percent of Republicans opposed.
James Robbins said he plans to vote in person this year, but he thinks the pandemic makes voting by mail necessary.
“People are scared. I get that. I really do,” he said. “So, I think anything that we have to facilitate voting, especially for our growing elderly population, is something we need to do.”
The findings of this MPR News/Star Tribune/KARE 11 Minnesota Poll are based on live interviews conducted May 18 to May 20 with 800 Minnesota registered voters. The poll was conducted for the MPR News, Star Tribune and KARE 11 by Mason-Dixon Polling and Strategy Inc.
The sample for this survey was drawn from a Mason-Dixon database that includes approximately 2.2 million registered Minnesota voters who are matched with a telephone number — either a land line, a cellphone or both. A random sample of 100,000 voters from unique households with unique phones was drawn from this database for use in calling on this poll.
Those interviewed were randomly selected by computer from this phone-matched Minnesota voter registration file with quotas assigned to reflect the state’s voter registration distribution by county. For example, Hennepin County and Ramsey County combined account for 32 percent of the state’s registered voters, so 32 percent of the survey interviews were completed there. The interviews were conducted via land line (35 percent) and cellphone (65 percent).
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 38 percent Democrats, 33 percent Republicans and 29 percent 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 registered 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 32 years — a period that spans eight presidential election cycles that began in 1988.