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After weeks of underwhelming financial numbers for Minnesota conservatives, this week starts with a much more encouraging set of digits. A new poll from Survey USA and KSTP finds an upswing in support for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in the state, and 52 percent of respondents planning to vote in favor of the ballot question to ban gay marriage.

KSTP survey shows momentum for Romney, cash-strapped conservatives

Mitt Romney

After weeks of underwhelming financial numbers for Minnesota conservatives, this week starts with a much more encouraging set of digits. A new poll from Survey USA and KSTP finds an upswing in support for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in the state, and 52 percent of respondents planning to vote in favor of the ballot question to ban gay marriage. For the ballot question on whether Minnesotans should be required to present a photo ID in order to vote, support has wavered, but only slightly, with 65 percent of those surveyed saying they would vote in favor of the amendment.

Democrats fared better in terms of candidates than issues, especially Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who polled at 55 percent and is 24 points ahead of Republican challenger Kurt Bills. President Barack Obama is still ahead of Romney, though his lead in the state has shrunk considerably and now stands at 46-40 among likely voters. On a generic question asking if the respondent would be more likely to vote for a Democratic or Republican state legislator, the DFL held a slight 45-40 edge.

To University of Minnesota political science professor Larry Jacobs, the poll reveals a “certain complacency” among progressives in the state — who may be fewer in number than was previously taken for granted.

“Most of the poll findings,” Jacobs said, “suggest that Minnesota is more of a state in which there’s parity, between not only Democrats and Republicans, but also liberals and conservatives.”

Jacobs said the findings in both the presidential race and the amendment challenges might inspire a new influx of national money from conservative spending groups, which could be a boon to Minnesota conservatives given the challenged financial status of the heavily indebted Republican Party of Minnesota.

“It’s going to bring in money that’s going to help Republicans get out Republican issues,” Jacobs said, “when it had appeared the only messages that would be getting out would be coming from the Democrats.”

The question on support to define marriage “as between one man and one woman” found 75 percent support from Republicans and 38 percent from Democrats. Minnesotans United for All Families, the major fundraising group behind opposition to the amendment, released a statement in response.

“Minnesotans are in the midst of a conversation, and we know that polls will go up and down between now and Election Day,” said Richard Calrbom, campaign manager for Minnesotans United. “What this poll shows is that Minnesotans are having a true debate about this issue, and this is an uphill battle.”

University of Minnesota Duluth political science professor Wy Spano said amendments often poll better than they actually perform, in part due to simple voter error.

“Working in favor of a constitutional amendment, you always come in less [than the poll numbers],” Spano said. “Part of the reason is that there’s always tremendous voter –- not necessarily confusion, but, switching around when they get to the ballot box. And there’s a tendency for people to miss the question, so there’s a lot of fall-off.”

For this reason, Spano thinks the much-debated language that will appear atop the ballot questions is “very important.”

Respondents’ top two issues in judging a legislative candidate will be “Job Creation” and “Taxes,” which received top billing from 32 percent and 27 percent, respectively. Another question found that a vote in favor of the Vikings stadium is more likely to hurt a campaign than help it. Only 23 percent of survey takers said they would be more likely to vote for a legislator who supported the stadium, and 33 percent said they would be less likely to vote for a stadium backer.

Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty easily won on the survey’s question on which vice presidential candidate Romney should choose, but the former governor saw little loyalty from Minnesota Republicans. Pawlenty polled at 35 percent among all respondents, but managed to only match that same number, 35 percent, with GOP voters, narrowly edging Florida Sen. Marco Rubio‘s 32 percent in that category.

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