Poll: Walz has Edge Over Johnson in Governor's Race

Tom Hauser, KSTP-TV
Created: September 14, 2018 04:19 PM

Less than two months before Election Day, a KSTP/Survey USA Poll of the Minnesota governor's race shows Democrat Tim Walz has a seven-point lead over Republican Jeff Johnson, 47 percent to 40 percent with 10 percent undecided.


574 likely voters were asked, "If the election for Minnesota Governor were today, and you were filling out your ballot right now, who would you vote for?"  The results:

40% Jeff Johnson (R)
47% Tim Walz (DFL)
3% Other
10% Undecided

The question has a credibility interval of ± 4.9 percentage points.

"I'm never comfortable in an election, but what I am comfortable with is our message is resonating," Walz told KSTP.

Johnson acknowledged Walz probably has a small lead, but said he remains confident.

"Polls are always interesting, they're often incorrect, too," Johnson said after reviewing our results.

Johnson said Walz probably got a bump in the polls from all the money he spent on his primary race which helped build his name identification.

Walz has raised much more money than Johnson.

Political scientist Steven Schier expects this race to remain close.

"I think the race is wide-open because a lot of voters don't really know the candidates that well, particularly Tim Walz - first time he's run statewide," Schier said of the current Congressman in Minnesota's 1st District.

The race could also hinge on key issues where the candidates strongly disagree like immigration.

"Immigration, we couldn't differ more," Johnson said. "I believe we should cooperate with the federal government to enforce our immigration laws."

Walz does not believe local and state police should be doing immigration enforcement.

"The idea that you are going to force local law enforcement to do what the federal government has capitulated their responsibility on doesn't get to where people are at," Walz said.

On that issue, Minnesota voters seem to side with Johnson. When asked whether Minnesota should become a "sanctuary state" for illegal immigrants where local law enforcement doesn't cooperate with federal officials, 59 percent of those surveyed opposed the idea.

On the issue of raising the gas tax, Johnson also has more support on his side. When asked if that tax should be raised, 52 percent say no. In fact, Johnson said he will oppose any tax increases.

"Minnesotans think they pay enough and I would agree with that," Johnson said. "I think we should actually start reducing taxes in the state."

Walz calls blanket opposition to raising taxes "irresponsible" because it doesn't allow a governor to negotiate.

"It reduces the chance of compromise," Walz said. "It reduces the chance of understanding the executive branch has a role to lay out a vision."

One area where Walz gets a lot of support is on the issue of legalizing recreational marijuana. In the poll, 56 percent of Minnesota voters support the idea.

"Prohibition doesn't work," Walz said. "It's not a capitulation that we're giving up. I trust adults to make their own decisions."

Johnson disagrees, while understanding public sentiment on the issue is changing dramatically.

"Overall, legalization? I think the costs to society are just too great," he said.

In addition to differences on issues, there's also a big geographical divide. The poll shows Walz leading in urban areas 60 to 26 percent. Johnson leads in greater Minnesota 47 to 38, while the two candidates are deadlocked in the suburbs 44-44 percent.

The KSTP/SurveyUSA poll included a sampling of 33 percent Republicans, 37 percent Democrats and 25 percent independents.


Tom Hauser, KSTP-TV

Copyright 2018 KSTP-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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