Heading into the November campaign, Dayton, 67, showed the highest job approval rating of his term. The poll found that 58 percent of Minnesotans approve of the job that Dayton is doing, with 29 percent saying they disapprove. That ranking is up 1 percentage point from June, when Dayton's approval rating stood at 57 percent and his disapproval number was 31 percent.
“Given that it’s been a challenging couple of months with MNsure and the light-rail line and the like, I think it shows people are looking at the big picture of how the state is doing overall,” Dayton told the newspaper. “I’m certainly gratified by these numbers, but there’s a lot more work ahead."
The poll surveyed 800 Minnesota adults between Feb. 10 and 12 and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
Dayton said that he anticipates that his ratings will go down as the campaign against him fires up. Republican challenger and former lawmaker Marty Seifert came in with the highest number of votes in the non-binding GOP straw poll in the Republican caucuses.
In the same Minnesota Poll, President Obama’s job approval rating slipped below 50 percent for the first time since he took office. Half of Minnesotans disapprove of the job Obama is doing and only 43 percent give him high marks.
In December, MinnPost had the results of St. Cloud State University's annual political poll, which showed declining job approval numbers for Dayton. The poll surveyed respondents at the end of October. Dayton’s approval had dropped to 44 percent from 53 percent compared with the same poll taken in 2012. Respondents also ranked the performance of President Obama and Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken.
In addition to job approval, the SCSU poll asked respondents to rank political figures and parties on a “feeling thermometer.” A register between 50 and 100 indicates favorable feelings, below 50 indicates unfavorable. Respondents were "warm" to Klobuchar and Franken who scored 66 and 51 on the scaled. Dayton's score was 49.
Last month, the Pioneer Press looked ahead to the campaign and election and noted that in his long political career, Dayton has never before campaigned for a second term. In statewide elections, Dayton was elected as state auditor and U.S. senator before he became governor. But he stepped down from both of his previous offices after one term.
The story recalled that Dayton was elected to the governor's job by a narrow margin, winning the race by just 8,770 votes after a recount.