PPP: Obama, Klobuchar “safe bets” in Minnesota
The last Republican presidential candidate to win Minnesota’s electoral votes was Richard Nixon in 1972. With less than two months remaining before election day, Mitt Romney is facing an uphill battle in trying to break the Democrats’ four-decade streak.
President Barack Obama is seven points ahead of Romney in the most recent statewide poll from Public Policy Polling (a firm whose results tend to tilt slightly Democratic, according to NYT polling writer Nate Silver). Among likely Minnesota voters, 51 percent support Obama, and 44 percent are planning to vote for Romney. The new results show Romney closing the gap on the incumbent since PPP’s June survey, when Obama’s lead stood at 54-39. The race has taken a more definite shape since then, with Romney selecting Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, as his running mate, and both sides stating their case at national party conventions.
Romney’s gains came among self-declared independent voters, who constitute a third of Minnesota’s voting population. Obama held a 23-point advantage among independents in June; as of this week, Obama had the backing of 48 percent of independents, Romney had 39 percent, and 13 percent were still up for grabs.
The narrowing margin documented in PPP’s results is a reverse of the trend found in this week’s Survey USA-KSTP poll. That tally put Obama 10 points ahead of the challenger, 50 percent to 40 percent, showing the president building on a 6-point lead over Romney found in July.
Mirroring national trends, Thursday’s PPP results find that Obama’s most loyal blocs are women, who support Obama over Romney 54 percent to 40 percent, and non-whites, 67 percent of whom plan to vote for Obama, versus just 30 percent supporting Romney. Romney leads narrowly (48-47) among men, and is close behind (49-45) among white Minnesotans.
The same poll documented a 19-point lead for U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar over challenger Kurt Bills. Klobuchar’s 55 percent support coincides with findings of broad popularity she enjoys among likely voters. On the other hand, Bills’ 39 percent support in the head-to-head question lines up with the poll’s finding that most Minnesotans have no opinion of him.
Klobuchar’s favorable/unfavorable rating of 57 percent ranks her 13th among all U.S. Senators, according to a PPP table. Among moderates, 68 percent approve of the job Klobuchar has done, and even a third of “somewhat conservative” voters view her favorably.
Only 41 percent of respondents were familiar with first-term state Rep. Kurt Bills‘ name — twice as many as in June, but a dismal total at this stage in a statewide race. Even among “somewhat conservative” and “very conservative” voters, 62 percent said they were “not sure” whether they view Bills favorably or unfavorably.
Noting that Klobuchar also holds a huge financial advantage over her challenger, PPP’s analysis suggests that her current lead is likely to grow during the remainder of the campaign.
“Obama and Klobuchar are both safe bets in Minnesota,” said Dean Debnam, president of Public Policy Polling.