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SCSU Survey examines elections

Friday, November 21, 2014

SCSU Survey results suggest voters relected Gov. Mark Dayton and Sen. Al Franken because they agree with the direction Minnesota is headed.

Fifty-three percent of respondents see the state as headed in the right direction as opposed to 28 percent who see it going on the wrong track. These results show Minnesotans are significantly more optimistic about the direction of their state than American voters as a whole are about the state of the country. The Real Clear Politics average of all polls for the last half of October showed that 27.8 percent of Americans feel the country is headed in the right direction while 66.8 percent feel it’s on the wrong track.

The 34-year-old SCSU Survey uses student directors and student workers to gather and analyze data. The survey was conducted as part of several professor’s classes.

The survey also examined the differences between Democrat and Republican self-identified respondents and found the majority of Democratic voters 75 percent confident in the state’s direction while the Republicans were split with about 37 percent seeing the state headed in the right direction and about 41 percent seeing it as on the wrong track.

The results were also borne out in the survey’s Feeling Thermometer, with survey faculty coming to the conclusion that the reelection of Dayton and Franken reflects a fairly strong approval among Minnesotans and that the president seems to be faring better in Minnesota than he is nationwide.

Thirty-seven percent of respondents rated the president’s job performance as excellent or pretty good. Down from 2012, when 46 percent rated his performance as excellent or pretty good.

The president’s lowered rating didn’t hurt his party’s candidates for Senate or governor in Minnesota, however. Fifty-one percent of respondents rated Dayton’s job performance as excellent or pretty good — down from 53 percent in 2012, while 50 percent of respondents rated Franken’s job performance as excellent or pretty good.

The survey responses varied a little from the actual vote results. In the questionnaire, 41 percent of respondents said they would vote for Franken and 30 percent said Mike McFadden. Of likely voters, however, 48 percent were for Franken and 39 percent for McFadden. In the actual vote, 53 percent voted for Franken and 43 percent for McFadden.

Of all respondents, the survey had Dayton at 45 percent of voters and Jeff Johnson at 28 percent; among likely voters, 52 percent were for Dayton and 37 percent for Johnson. The actual vote spread was 50 percent for Dayton and 45 percent for Johnson.

The biggest problem facing the state for respondents this year was the environment at 13 percent of responders listing it as a concern — followed by education at about 10 percent, healthcare/insurance/Obamacare at about 9 percent, taxes at about 8 percent and the budget/deficit at about 5 percent.

The survey was based on a statewide random sample of Minnesota adults. Responses were gathered from 552 randomly-selected landline and cellphone users Oct. 13-22 at the St. Cloud State University Survey Lab. The questionnaire consisted of about 40 questions. Landline users made up 60 percent of respondents and cellphone users 40 percent. The demographics of the survey are an almost perfect match to the 18 and older Minnesota population. Slight weighting was conducted for education attainment and age.

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