Gov. Mark Dayton indicates his preferred podium size. (
by Tony Petrangelo
Mar 12, 2013, 12:00 PM

The Minnesota Poll, Dayton sees approval drop

In yet another installment of their multi-part Minnesota Poll, the StarTribune, along with their polling partners Mason-Dixon, tested Governor Mark Dayton’s job approvals. After a whole series of issue questions, these are the first horse-racey questions they’ve released, so let’s take a look.

Mason-Dixon (3/10, 9/23/12 in parenthesis):

Do you approve or disapprove of Mark Dayton’s job performance as governor?
Approve 45 (53)
Disapprove 34 (31)
Undecided 21 (16)
(MoE: ±3.5%)

Mark Dayton is still at a healthy +11 approval, but the trend lines are ugly, as he had a +22 spread last time Mason-Dixon tested this question. 11 is half of 22.

That was back in September though, in the middle of an election in which Dayton wasn’t on the ballot. More recently SurveyUSA found an approval spread of 50% approve, 35% disapprove. And before that PPP had him at 53% approve, 39% disapprove. Those two spreads, +15 and +14, are roughly in the middle of Mason-Dixon’s two sets of numbers.

Looking at only the approval numbers in the three polls prior to this most recent one, they were in a narrow 53%-50% band, while the disapproval numbers were in a wider 39%-31% band.

Dayton’s approval numbers in this most recent poll are clearly outside of that previously established narrow band that his approval numbers were falling into. Yet, the disapproval numbers fit nicely into their previously established wider band.

This poll also features the highest number of undecideds of any of the polls we’ve looked at so far. Which, in one way doesn’t make any sense at all. You would figure that more people in Minnesota know who Mark Dayton is right now then at any other point in the past six months because of all of the acrimony surrounding parts of his budget plan.

But within that context, it makes sense that there would be a higher number of undecideds. After all, most people don’t go from approving of someone, to disapproving of them overnight. It’s a process that involves first being ambivalent, and there are clearly a lot of people newly ambivalent of Mark Dayton.

Mark Dayton’s approval numbers went down and his negatives didn’t really go up. The number of undecided voters did go up though.

Given that the Governor has now backed off the most controversial part of his budget, the business to business taxes, we’ll have to wait for more data points to see if he can repair some of the damage.

While Mark Dayton may have taken a hit right now, I would be a bit surprised if the damage isn’t short lived. And in the end, he still has a +11 approval/disapproval spread, a number that many politicians would be envious of.

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