Politics and Government

New Minnesota poll has Biden with narrow edge over Trump as both remain unpopular

a woman swings a kid
Kaytee Broskoff of North Branch swings with her young son Easton. She blames Democratic President Joe Biden for inflation but isn't certain yet how she'll vote in November. A new Minnesota Poll shows Biden carries a slight edge in Minnesota over former GOP President Donald Trump.
Mark Zdechlik | MPR News

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Democratic respondents in the early June poll called protecting democracy their main concern followed distantly by climate change. Republicans cited the economy and immigration.

Democratic President Joe Biden carries a slight edge in Minnesota over former Republican President Donald Trump into their rematch, although a new Minnesota Poll shows that advantage is short of the incumbent’s victory margin four years ago in a must-win state for Democrats. 

Biden was preferred by just shy of 45 percent of respondents compared to about 41 percent for Trump in the live-interview poll conducted last week for MPR News, KARE 11 and the Star Tribune. That’s considered a dead heat given the poll’s margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points in the survey done by Mason-Dixon Polling and Strategy.

A small percentage preferred a third-party candidate — independent Robert F. Kennedy Jr. had the support of about 6 percent — while a sliver remained undecided.

The poll of 800 people reached on their home or cell phones in early June also shows that both major party nominees are deeply unpopular, with more than half of respondents disapproving of each. Many respondents lack enthusiasm about their choice.

That’s the case with Angela Fairbanks Jacobson, who didn’t take part in the poll but discussed her preference for Biden in an interview after she donated clothes at a free-store near the south Minneapolis intersection known as George Floyd Square.

“I’m just, I’m sad,” Fairbanks Jacobson said. “It’s unfortunate that we don’t have younger candidates, but it is what it is right now.”

portrait of a woman with glasses
Angela Fairbanks Jacobson of St. Paul says she'll vote for Joe Biden but wishes the presidential candidates were younger.
Mark Zdechlik | MPR News

About 3 in 10 Biden supporters said they are very enthusiastic about his reelection effort. Slightly more, about 36 percent, were somewhat enthusiastic and the rest were not very or not at all enthusiastic for the candidate they plan to vote for.

More than 61 percent of Trump supporters are very enthusiastic about his candidacy and about 18 percent lack much enthusiasm.

In 2020, Biden beat Trump in Minnesota by about 7 percentage points. It was a far bigger gap than in 2016 when Trump came up fewer than 2 points short of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. The state’s 10 electoral college votes are deemed critical in Biden’s reelection calculus.

In the new poll, the category of economy and jobs was the top issue for more than a quarter of respondents. That slightly trailed the state of democracy as a driving issue.

Democratic respondents said protecting democracy is their main concern followed distantly by climate change. Republicans pointed to the economy as their top concern followed by immigration.

Fairbanks Jacobson said her vote in November will be about preserving the nation’s democracy.

“Definitely supporting anybody but Trump,” Fairbanks Jacobson explained. “I feel that Trump is a threat to our democracy. We do absolutely not want a dictator.”

a man with a cap smiles for a portrait
"I feel he's done an OK job," C.Terrence Anderson of Minneapolis says of Biden. "I think there's definitely been some successes like infrastructure and things like that, but very disappointing in Gaza. So I think it's a mixed bag.”
Mark Zdechlik | MPR News

Around the corner, 36-year-old C. Terrence Anderson shared those fears that are also driving his support for Biden.

“I feel he’s done an OK job,” Anderson said of Biden. “I think there’s definitely been some successes in like infrastructure and things like that, but very disappointing in Gaza. So I think it’s a mixed bag.”

Along Main Street in downtown North Branch, an exurb 45 minutes north of the Twin Cities, the sentiment is different.

Sean Moe, 38, was resolute in his support for Trump and his disdain for Biden.

“I think Biden’s screwed up the country,” Moe said. “Everything is expensive.”

Moe said he used to enjoy grocery shopping but now hates it because of the high prices.

a man smiles for a portrait
On Main Street in North Branch, Sean Moe was resolute in his support for Trump and his disdain for President Joe Biden.
Mark Zdechlik | MPR News

Standing next to Moe, 46-year-old Justin Burvee also had nothing positive to say about the incumbent.

“He hurt us more than he’s helped us,” Burvee said. “In every way possible, like [the] economy.  I mean, I haven’t seen one plus. I mean, gas prices, food, I mean, everything rose. It’s terrible.”

The poll found Trump to be far more popular among men than Biden. It’s flipped among women, who are strongly in Biden’s column. 

Kaytee Broskoff, 22, was at a park in North Branch with her young son, Easton, as Hanna, the family dog, looked on. Broskoff said it’s hard for her to afford what she needs, and she blames Biden for inflation.

“It’s definitely a struggle to be a single mom and live in today’s world,” said Broskoff, who added she might not vote this fall.

“I don’t know who I would vote for,” she said. “If I did vote, I would probably vote for Trump and I say that because my parents support him.”

Biden has a dominant edge in the populous Hennepin and Ramsey counties; Trump led in all other geographic regions.

While the new Minnesota Poll found tepid support for Trump and Biden, roughly 55 percent of respondents said they approve of DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s job performance. She won her current term in 2018 with about 60 percent of the vote.

Klobuchar is running for a fourth term, with her November opponent to be decided in a multi-candidate GOP primary. Former professional basketball player and podcaster Royce White has the Republican endorsement but former Navy officer Joe Fraser has been pushed by prominent Republicans as an alternative. 

A recent New York Times poll found that Democratic U.S. Senate candidates are outperforming Biden in key battleground states. 

It remains to be seen how much Klobuchar might be able to help Biden in a seemingly competitive Minnesota.

Editor’s note: For more poll details and methodology around the poll, check out MPR News’ sister organization, the APM Research Lab.

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