Conservative group’s poll says Dayton and Franken face tight races

WASHINGTON — A conservative group’s survey says Minnesota voters are open to replacing incumbent DFL U.S. Sen. Al Franken and Gov. Mark Dayton, and that voters also disapprove of the Affordable Care Act.

But as with all polls conducted on behalf of partisan groups, the  findings need to be examined with a healthy skepticism.

The poll of 400 voters conducted by Republican pollsters the Tarrance Group on behalf of the Minnesota Jobs Coalition says 45 percent of voters approve of Franken and Dayton’s performance on the job and that 43 percent of voters disapprove of Franken while 45 percent disapprove of Dayton. The 2010 Affordable Care Act gets a 51 percent disapproval rating.

But there are a few open questions about the poll. The sample of 400 voters is relatively small, which means it has a relatively large margin of error.

According to the pollsters, their sample was made up of 28.6 percent GOP voters, 34.1 percent DFL voters and 37.3 percent independent voters. Sixty-two percent of those surveyed were age 45 and older while 38 percent were younger than 45. A slight majority, 52.5 percent of those surveyed were women.

That sample appears to plausibly resemble the potential statewide electorate in a non-presidential election year, although it leans quite heavily on older voters, who tend to vote more with Republicans. Last, the wording of at least one question suggests that the pollsters were framing questions in a way to push respondents towards picking specific answers.

Here’s the question, which uses Obamacare as a synonym for the Affordable Care Act even though the use of the president’s name in the law has been shown to have a significant impact in how voters perceive the law:

Under Obamacare, Gov. Dayton spent over $9 million dollars marketing the state-run health insurance exchange, while it suffered a data breach that released thousands of Social Security numbers. In Minnesota alone, over 140,000 self-insured individuals have been told their policies are being cancelled. Does Gov. Dayton’s handling of Obamacare make you more likely or less like to vote for him?

Lest readers think this blog is picking on Republican polling, please review our write up of an October poll conducted by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in Minnesota’s 3rd Congressional District that raised  similar methodological questions.

  • MinnesotaCentral

    What does it say about that no names are provided as MN-GOP candidates ?

    Isn’t this the incumbent versus a “generic” candidate poll ? And don’t “generic” candidates, regardless of party, generally perform better than named candidates ?

    Yet, since the Tarrance Group states that part of the service is “to pinpoint the most effective messages” that tells us that Obamacare is the issue that will be the focus of the 2014 elections.

    Yes, I suppose you could call it a “push poll” when it states that “Dayton spent over $9 million marketing” without including that those funds were from the Federal government … not saying that it isn’t taxpayer dollars, but how much is the Army spending on NASCAR sponsorships — I recall Betty McCollum talking about $7 million per year — that’s marketing …