Gov. Mark Dayton indicates his preferred podium size. (
by Tony Petrangelo
Jun 19, 2013, 11:00 AM

Mark Dayton rebounds

Almost one month ago I wrote a post titled “Mark Dayton slides.” That post concerned a poll, one conducted by Public Policy Polling, that showed Mark Dayton just above water with 49% of Minnesotan’s approving of his job as Governor and 47% disapproving.

The post was titled in the way it was because those numbers, 49/47, were quite a bit softer than his numbers had been in a previous PPP poll. They did however reflect an erosion in his numbers that had been seen earlier by SurveyUSA and the StarTribune’s Minnesota Poll.

You may have noticed by the way this post is titled, that Mark Dayton has stopped his sliding and, at least according to the latest Minnesota Poll, is right back where he was.

Mason-Dixon (6/18, 3/10 in parenthesis, 9/23/12 in brackets):

Do you approve or disapprove of Mark Dayton’s job performance as governor?
Approve 57 (45) [53]
Disapprove 31 (34) [31]
Undecided 12 (21) [16]
(MoE: ±3.5%)

This is what I wrote in response to the March poll, the one that showed Dayton with only +11 approval:

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.

This poll would seem to confirm that analysis, as it shows Mark Dayton recovering all of his previous support, and then some.

That PPP poll and the Minnesota poll from March were both during the legislative session. A legislative session that is likely to be much more contentious than next years. If Dayton’s approvals have recovered already from this session, he’s in pretty good shape.

Is that the reality though? I mean, the only other recent poll, the PPP poll from May that was cited earlier, showed a decidedly different picture.

It’s tough to say what’s going on with any certainty. This poll has the best Mark Dayton approval numbers that we’ve seen all year, the 57% approval is a high-water mark, while the 31% disapproval is a low-water mark.

Yet the PPP poll from three weeks ago gave Dayton his worst disapproval numbers all year.

When you’ve got some polls and don’t know what to make of them, the best thing to do is average them, so that’s what I’ve done below. The following table contains the results of the last poll by each of the three pollsters who have been tracking Dayton’s approval ratings this year. And the last row is the average of those three polls.

Pollster Approve Disapprove
Mason-Dixon 57 31
PPP 49 47
SurveyUSA 49 39
Average 52 39

In response to this poll, Laura Brod, who these days is part of the Norm Coleman dark money group Minnesota Action Network, had this to say:

The approval ratings right now are probably based on “Well, the session got done.’ But, boy, when a lot of those bills that got signed into law go into effect and people start feeling the real impact of them, I think the numbers will change dramatically.

Well, the Minnesota Poll asked about some of those new laws and didn’t find the public nearly as bullish on their terribleness as Brod is.

Mason-Dixon (6/18, no trend lines):

The Legislature approved, and Governor Mark Dayton signed into law, a $2 billion tax increase that mostly raises taxes on top wage earners. Do you support or oppose this action?
Support 58
Oppose 36
Undecided 6

The Legislature and Governor Dayton also approved a tax increase of $1.60 per pack of cigarettes. Do you support or oppose this action?
Support 64
Oppose 32
Undecided 4
(MoE: ±3.5%)

Those are the only two questions relating to things that the legislature has done that have so far been released, but in both cases the public’s current sentiment is positive.

And in both cases I suspect that the people who will most feel the impact of these changes are the ones who are already opposed to them.

This is clearly good news for Mark Dayton, and illustrates how durable his approval numbers are. But it’s also just one poll in the middle of June, so it might be a little premature to declare a full recovery in his numbers.

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