Republicans may be in position to win in several statewide races in traditionally blue Minnesota, according to a new poll.
The poll of 1,079 likely general election voters, conducted by Alpha News and the Trafalgar Group, showed Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Jensen within striking distance of incumbent Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) Governor Tim Walz. Republicans are also within the margin of error in the race for secretary of state, and are leading in the races for attorney general and state auditor.
In the governor’s race, Walz and lieutenant governor Peggy Flanagan lead Jensen and lieutenant governor candidate Matt Birk by just 2.7 points, 47.7% to 45%. That gap is within the poll’s 2.9% margin of error, and 4.9% of voters are still undecided, the poll found.
In the race for secretary of state, Republican Kim Crockett trails incumbent DFL Secretary of State Steve Simon by just one point, 46.2% to 45.2%, with 8.5% still undecided. In the race for state auditor, Republican Ryan Wilson holds a slight lead over DFL incumbent Julie Blaha, 42.3% to 41.2%, with 10.8% still undecided. The race for state attorney general is the most likely race for Republicans to flip a seat, the poll found. Republican Jim Schultz leads DFL incumbent Keith Ellison, 49.3% to 45.7%. Just 4.9% of voters are undecided.
The poll also found that President Joe Biden’s approval is lagging in the state. A majority of voters, 54.3%, disapproved of Biden’s handling of the presidency, while just 43.4% approved. Voters also had very strong negative opinions about Biden: a near-majority of respondents, 49.2%, said they strongly disapproved of Biden, while just 22.8% of voters strongly approved.
The poll also asked voters which was most the important issue facing the state. “Reducing crime and ensuring violent criminals stay off the street” was the most important issue by a significant margin: 41.5% of voters listed it as the top issue, followed by “growing the economy and creating jobs,” which 21.6% of voters listed as most important.
“Ensuring that abortion remains available and accessible in Minnesota” came in third with 18.1%. No other issue achieved double-digit support from voters as the most important.
Nearly 27% listed growing the economy as the second most important issue, followed by 24.8% who listed reducing crime second. “Fighting against illegal immigration” came in third with 14.8%, and abortion garnered 13.9%.
Minnesota has been a tough barrier for Republicans to break through in statewide races in recent years. The last Republican governor of the state was Tim Pawlenty, who served from 2003 to 2011. The state last elected a Republican secretary of state and state auditor in 2002. A Republican has not served as attorney general since 1971.
In recent weeks, Trafalgar has found that Republicans are in tighter-than-expected races in a number of blue states. Earlier this month, Trafalgar showed Republican Washington Senate candidate Tiffany Smiley closely trailing incumbent Democratic Senator Patty Murray; Murray’s lead was right up against the poll’s margin of error, 49.2% to 46.3%.
Trafalgar also found that Democratic New York Governor Kathy Hochul was in a surprisingly close race against Republican Congressman Lee Zeldin; Hochul led Zeldin 47.8%-43.4% in the deep-blue Empire State. Trafalgar Group chief pollster Robert Cahaly said at the time that the results stemmed from a working-class backlash to the Biden administration’s student loan forgiveness effort.
“Folks I know the GA, WA, & NY #poll numbers are surprising but we at @Trafalgar_Group have seen a big shift in favor of non incumbents since #Biden announced his #studentloanforgiveness package,” Cahaly wrote on Twitter. “No other issue this cycle has enraged middle and working class voters more than this.”
Folks I know the GA, WA, & NY #poll numbers are surprising but we at @Trafalgar_Group have seen a big shift in favor of non incumbents since #Biden announced his #studentloanforgiveness package. No other issue this cycle has enraged middle and working class voters more than this
— Robert C. Cahaly (@RobertCahaly) September 3, 2022