In Minnesota, Republican Housley in dead heat against US Senator Tina Smith; Regardless of Primary Winner Democrats Look Strong in Minnesota Governor Race

A new poll finds U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (DFL) leading her likely GOP opponent state Rep. Jim Newberger 50% to 26%, while the State’s Junior Senator Tina Smith (DFL) is in a toss-up situation against likely Republican nominee Karin Housley 32% to 28% with 41% undecided within the poll’s margin of +/-4.6 percentage points. Data was collected August 8-11.

A look within the Democratic primary for Governor suggests a very close race on Tuesday as voters are split among the top candidates. State Attorney General Lori Swanson is at 29% and Rep. Tim Walz is at 28%. Former state House Majority leader/Emily list endorsed Erin Murphy is statistical tied with the two at 19%, and 24% are undecided/other. (n=217; +/- 6.9%)

On the Republican side, former Gov Tim Pawlenty has a slight advantage over Jeff Johnson for the nomination 43% to 34% with 23% undecided. (n=156, +/-8%). Driving the Pawlenty vote are independent voters in the Republican primary breaking for Pawlenty 66% to 13%, while Republican affiliated voters are breaking slightly for Johnson, 39% to 38%.

It appears at this time that whomever the Democrats and Republicans nominate, Democrats will start with a slight lead. In hypothetical ballot tests Swanson leads Pawlenty 44% to 36% (21% undecided) while Walz leads Pawlenty 44% to 33% (23% undecided). The race tightens if Johnson wins the GOP nomination; against Swanson he trails 37% to 32% (31% undecided) and against Walz, Johnson trails 40% to 33%, with 27% undecided.

President Trump’s approval rating is lower in Minnesota than his national numbers with a 35% approval compared with his RCP average of 43%. Trump’s disapproval is about the same as his national numbers at 51%. Driving down Trump’s popularity appears to be his recent tariffs, which 49% of Minnesotans think are bad for the state; 18% think the tariffs are good.

Governor Mark Dayton (DFL) has a 39% approval and 33% disapproval. Democrats approve 61% to 10%, while Republicans disapprove 60% to 15%. Independents are split with 38% disapproving and 33% approving.

In a generic ballot test for congress, Democrats lead 48% to 40% for Republicans.

• It appears former US Senator Al Franken would struggle if he opted a return to Minnesota politics. When Franken replaced Smith in the Senate Ballot test, the race tightened from 4 points down to 1, 41% for Franken and 40% for Housley (19% undecided).However, Franken leads among female voters 46% to 29%, and trails with male voters 52% to 35%.


The Minnesota Emerson College Online-Poll was conducted August 8-11, 2018 under the Supervision of Assistant Professor Spencer Kimball. The sample consisted of only somewhat and likely voters, n=500, with a Credibility Interval (similar to margin of error) of +/- 4.6 percentage points. The data was weighted by gender, congressional district and 2016 vote difference based on a turnout model. It is important to remember that subsets carry with them higher margins of error, as the sample size is reduced. The CI for the Democratic Primary, n=217, +/-6.9 percentage points; Republican Primary, n=156, +/- 8 percentage points. Data was collected using an online panel provided by Survey Monkey and Survey Sampling International (SSI).

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