Minnesota Poll: Most think Senate should wait on Supreme Court confirmation

A photo collage of Jason Lewis and Tina Smith
Democratic Sen. Tina Smith leads Republican challenger Jason Lewis in a new MPR News/Star Tribune/KARE 11 Minnesota Poll
Photos by Jim Mone and Carolyn Kaster, AP | Illustration by MPR News

Brad Nordgren thinks President Donald Trump is on track to lose his reelection campaign.

The 72-year-old Medina resident said the Republican-controlled Senate should follow its own precedent and allow the next president — he believes it will be Joe Biden — to nominate a new Supreme Court justice.

“I don’t think right now the selection would be about making the appropriate selection for a judge but rather to create outcomes that they want. Period,” Nordgren said.

The latest MPR News/Star Tribune/KARE-11 Minnesota Poll finds 55 percent of registered Minnesota voters think the Senate should not vote on Trump’s Supreme Court nominee before the November election. On Saturday, Trump nominated conservative Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the open seat; the poll was completed before Barrett’s nomination.

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A majority of Minnesota voters says wait on Supreme Court pick
About 55 percent of Minnesota voters say the U.S. Senate should not confirm President Trump's Supreme Court nominee before the November election, vs. 39 percent who say it should.
David H. Montgomery | MPR News

Four years ago the Republican-controlled Senate refused to hold hearings on Democratic President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court pick. That nomination came more than seven months before the 2016 presidential election. Republicans said then that the new president, not Obama, should  pick a justice, because the election was too close. 

Now that they control the White House and the Senate, Republicans are pressing ahead with the confirmation process.

Ted, who lives in Clear Lake, took part in the poll. He asked that his last name not be used because he’s concerned voicing his political views could hurt his business.

Ted said he’s voting for President Trump and he sees no reason for Republicans to hold off on replacing Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the high court.

“If the proper person is available now, let’s not wait,” he said.  

49% of Minnesota voters back Tina Smith, 41% Jason Lewis
For U.S. Senate, 49 percent of Minnesota voters back Democratic incumbent Tina Smith, vs. 41 percent for Republican Jason Lewis.
David H. Montgomery | MPR News

As for who Minnesota should elect to the U.S. Senate this fall, Ted said he’s supporting Republican Jason Lewis over incumbent DFL Sen. Tina Smith. 

He said he doesn’t know a lot about Lewis, but he sides with the Republican's law-and-order message. 

“I mean, how can we let a bunch of numbskulls run around and destroy cities, burning things down and looting and this and that? It’s nonsense,” he said.

But Ted's views don't represent the majority of those polled. 

The poll shows Smith has an eight-point advantage over Lewis — 49-41 percent — with 10 percent undecided. A thin majority — 51 percent — approve of Smith’s job performance.

Poll question on Tina Smith's approval rating in Minnesota, by region
Sen. Tina Smith's approval rating by region of the state.
David H. Montgomery | MPR News

Janet Albertson was not polled, but she proudly signals her support with a Smith campaign sign in the front yard of her  Maplewood home.

Albertson doesn’t buy the argument Lewis and others are making, that if Democrats like Smith prevail a collapse of law and order will ensue.

“They’re using fear to get votes,” she said. “That’s wrong. What they should be afraid of is this COVID and pay more attention to that and not just dismiss it.”

Much of Smith's advantage comes because of support from women. She leads Lewis among women 53-35 percent. Men are more evenly split in their support for the candidates. 

Smith also has a big lead in Hennepin and Ramsey Counties, while Lewis has an advantage in northern Minnesota. 

And political independents seem to be breaking toward Smith. Among those who call themselves neither Democrats nor Republicans, she has a 7 point lead. 

The poll of 800 registered Minnesota voters was done from Sept. 21 to Sept. 23. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

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