ST. PAUL, Minn. -- President Barack Obama is vulnerable in Minnesota in 2012 if Republicans pick the right candidate to oppose him. The latest MPR News/Humphrey Institute Poll warns the GOP not to lean too far to the right if they want Minnesota in a 2012 win column.
Director Larry Jacobs of the University of Minnesota Humphrey Institute Center for the Study of Politics and Governance helped assemble the Poll results. A total of 750 likely Minnesota voters were surveyed from September 22-26, with a margin for error of +/- 5.1 percent.
Obama leads, but...
Obama leads Tim Pawlenty, head-to-head, 49-40 percent and Mitt Romney by 47-40 percent, in the Poll released Thursday.
"We are finding that Barack Obama faces a competitive challenge, looking forward to the 2012 Presidential election from Governor Tim Pawlenty and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. They are doing very well among independents. They are gaining from the fact that Obama's approval ratings are below 50 percent and the sense, among many Minnesotans, is that the country is heading in the wrong direction," said Jacobs.
It is a different story, however, when Obama is pitted against former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin or Minnesota Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann. Then, Obama leads easily, 56-34 percent over Palin and 54-34% over Bachmann.
Moderate Republicans stronger
" So, here in Minnesota, Pawlenty and Romney are competitive, fighting Obama here for the Presidential tag, but the more conservative Palin and Bachmann are struggling against Obama. This suggests that while Palin and Bachmann may play well among Republicans, that in more moderate states like Minnesota, you (Republicans) are going to need more moderate candidates like Mitt Romney and Governor Pawlenty to have a shot," commented Jacobs.
Despite Obama's potential vulnerability, the MPR News/Humphrey Institute Poll indicates that the President shows strength against Pawlenty on the issue of the Economy and Jobs. Obama wins 52-37% on that issue compared to the Minnesota Governor.
Economy is most important issue
That may be a crucial factor since the Poll shows that "Economy and Jobs" is the "Single Most Important Problem facing Minnesota today." Forty three percent of Minnesotans say so in the Poll. That is far ahead of issues like the Budget Deficit (15 percent), Education (13 percent), High taxes (9 percent) and Health Care (8 percent).
Former "hot button" social issues Abortion and Gay Marriage were only rated "most important" by two percent of those surveyed. The Poll shows most Minnesotans opposed to Gay Marriage by 49-41 percent, but 64 percent of Minnesotans across the categories favor Civil Unions for same-sex couples, which grant many of the same rights as marriage.
Congress incumbents beware
The Poll is a shot across the bow for Congressional incumbents in Minnesota. 50 percent of those surveyed said they were "looking for someone else" to vote for, while only 34 percent said they would vote to re-elect an incumbent.
Dems still strong in Legislature
Democrats in the Minnesota Legislature continue to hold their edge in September 2010 according to the Poll. When asked if they support an unnamed Democratic or Republican candidate for the State Legislature in November, the Democrats come out on top, 48-37 percent with 15 percent having no opinion or declining to state an opinion.
There will be more information from the September Poll released on Friday.
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