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KSTP/SurveyUSA Poll: Dead Heat in GOP Gov's Primary Race

Updated: 06/11/2014 10:39 PM
Created: 06/11/2014 10:37 PM WDIO.com
By: Tom Hauser

With two months to go before primary elections in Minnesota, the GOP primary race for governor is tied at the top. 

Jeff Johnson, who won the GOP endorsement at the state convention last month, and Kurt Zellers, the former Speaker of the Minnesota House, each have support of 23 percent of "likely GOP primary voters."

"Jeff Johnson has clearly gotten a nice bump from the Republican-endorsing convention," said Larry Jacobs, a political scientist at the U of M Humphrey Institute. "He's now tied with the much better known Kurt Zellers who had been Speaker of the Minnesota House."

However, the numbers suggest this race is wide open with eight weeks to go.  Former House Minority Leader Marty Seifert is third at 14 percent and businessman Scott Honour is fourth at nine percent, but two other numbers deserve attention. Our poll of 404 likely voters shows 22 percent are undecided and 11 percent prefer someone else. The margin of sampling error is +/- five percent.

That means Seifert or Honour could make up a lot of ground if they appeal to those undecided voters. Jacobs says Seifert might have hurt himself at the GOP convention by attempting to block an endorsement from happening. As for Honour, it's all about a lack of name recognition because he's a political newcomer. 

"He's probably going to drop a good bit of money to raise his name recognition and to start getting traction," Jacobs said about Honour. "If he's not able to do that this poll suggests he's not going to be a factor in the primary."

As for the GOP U.S. Senate primary race, it doesn't look nearly as competitive. 

Businessman Mike McFadden, who won the GOP endorsement, has a commanding lead over state Representative Jim Abeler. McFadden leads Abeler 44 percent to 16 percent, although 21 percent remain undecided and 19 percent prefer someone else. 

But Jacobs says without party endorsement and very little money, Abeler is a decided underdog. "Jim Abeler's effort to run a competitive primary race against Mike McFadden is the longest of long shots," according to Jacobs.

SurveyUSA interviewed 2,200 Minnesota adults between June 5 and June 9. Of the adults, 2,032 were registered to vote. Of the registered, 1,017 were determined by SurveyUSA to be likely to vote in the November general election, while 404 were determined to be likely to vote in the August primary election. 

Minnesota has an "open" primary system, meaning anyone can vote in them. So the "likely" primary voters included 56 percent Republicans, 27 percent independents and 15 percent Democrats. The polling included a mix of home phone, cellphone and tablet respondents.

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