Gov. Mark Dayton enjoys his highest approval rating since taking office, with a majority of Minnesotans approving of his work as governor, according to the Minnesota Poll.
The poll, conducted by the Star Tribune, surveyed 800 Minnesotans by phone between June 11-13. The poll has a 3.5 percent margin of error. The sample included 36 percent self-identified Democrats, 30 percent Republicans and 29 percent independents.
The question "Do you approve or disapprove of Mark Dayton’s job performance as governor?" drew 57 percent approval, with 31 percent responding "disapprove" and 12 percent not sure.
In Hennepin and Ramsey counties, Dayton's marks soar, with 72 percent approving of his performance. In the metro suburbs, that number dips to 40 percent, with 42 percent disapproving. In the rest of the state, his approval number is 57 percent.
“It shows that people understand that we did what we had to do to restore fiscal balance to the state and we’re on the right track,” Dayton tells the Strib from Germany, where his is on a trade mission.
The paper cites Dayton's "sweeping changes" during the last legislative session, noting that he managed a $2.1 billion tax increase mostly on the wealthy and on smokers; made Minnesota the 12th state to legalize same-sex marriage; granted state aid for expansions of the Mayo Clinic, 3M and the Mall of America; and funded free, all-day kindergarten across the state.
Dayton, who is running for re-election in 2014, enjoys a reversal among independents, with 51 percent approving. Those identified as Democrats/DFL support him by a 89 to 3 percent margin, while only 27 percent of Republicans approve of Dayton's job. He also enjoys high marks from women (61 percent) and those from ages 18-34 (65 percent).
Still, many Minnesotans may avoid the guv at a cocktail party. The question "Do you have a favorable, unfavorable or neutral opinion of Mark Dayton?" draws 44 percent favorable, 29 percent unfavorable, and 26 percent neutral.
“The approval ratings right now are probably based on 'Well, the session got done,’" Laura Brod, a Republican who is a former state rep., tells the Star Tribune. "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."