Minnesota Senator Al Franken (www.washingtonpost.com).
by Tony Petrangelo
Jun 24, 2013, 12:00 PM

Al Franken maintains strong approvals

While they are not quite Klobacharian, Al Franken continues to sport enviable approval numbers with Minnesota voters.

Mason-Dixon (6/18, 9/23/12 in parenthesis):

Do you approve or disapprove of Al Franken’s job performance as U.S. Senator?
Approve 55 (52)
Disapprove 29 (40)
Undecided 16 (8)
(MoE: ±3.5%)

The numbers in the parenthesis above, the numbers from September, are not the numbers cited in the article the StarTribune has up on their own poll. That’s because the StarTribune’s cited numbers of it’s own poll from September are incorrect.

From the lede of the StarTribune article:

Fifty-five percent of those polled say the first-term Democratic senator is doing a good job, a double-digit increase from the 44 percent who thought so in September.

Except that the percentage of people who approved of Franken’s job performance last September was not 44%. It was 52%. The 44% number cited was from the previous question about name recognition and favorablity.

So the gains in approval rating are not nearly as dramatic as reported. Also, the trend lines are from last September, a long time ago.

If compare the two numbers though, the largest movement has not been in Al Franken’s approval, rather the big change has been with his disapproval, which has gone from 40% all the way down to 29%. Most of those people seeming to move from the disapprove column into the undecided column.

As I’ve mentioned before, people don’t tend to go from approving of a politician to disapproving overnight, barring some very special circumstances. Rather, there is usually a gradual progression from approval to ambivalence to disapproval.

The same thing works the other way too. People who disapprove of a candidate don’t typically start approving of them overnight. Rather they first question whether they even disapprove of the politician to begin with, before deciding that they do approve.

This may be what the Minnesota Poll is picking up on in the nine month trend line shown above.

It’s worth noting that although Mark Dayton’s approval numbers are up compared to the Minnesota Poll’s March foray, he has pretty much the exact same numbers as he did in the September poll cited in this post.

Here is how Mark Dayton and Al Franken compare in the Minnesota Poll from September compared to the present.

Sept 2012 June 2013
Dayton 53-31 57-31
Franken 52-40 55-29

Their approval ratings both went up by 3-4 points, but while Mark Dayton’s disapproval numbers remained the same, Al Franken’s plummeted.

This can’t really be explained by changes in the partisan composition of the poll or demographics or anything. Rather, it seems the Minnesota Poll is picking up on a trend that is unique to Al Franken.

But that’s not what PPP has been seeing.

Date 6/12 9/12 1/13 5/13
PPP 50-36 49-42 52-41 51-42

Unlike the decrease in disapproval seen by Mason-Dixon, PPP has seen no such thing. It’s certainly possible that Mason-Dixon has it right and PPP has it wrong, but based on past performance, I wouldn’t bet on it.

Until we see more numbers, it’s hard to say who’s right. Regardless of what’s going on with his disapproval numbers though, it’s clear that Al Franken’s approval ratings are firmly in the 50% territory, which will make him a very difficult incumbent to defeat come next November.

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