The headlines read that the Minnesota governor’s race is deadlocked between Republican Tom Emmer and Democrat Mark Dayton, but there is more to the story.
As usual a couple of months before an election, there are plenty of undecided voters. In this case, it was nearly 20 percent of those responding to the Minnesota Public Radio-University of Minnesota Humphrey Institute poll.
Besides just independents who have not made up their minds, which is common, political scientist Larry Jacobs points out that about a third of those polled who say they are Democrat or Republican do not support their parties’ candidates.
That could be expected among Democratic-Farmer-Laborites, who on Aug. 10 wrapped up a heated three-way primary election contest. Not everyone has had time to get on board with Dayton, and not everyone can be expected to.
On the Republican side, it is much more unusual for the party’s nominee not to pick up more support, but Emmer is not well known and his views appear to the right even of some in his own party.
While that could give Independence Party candidate Tom Horner a chance, the 13 percent he gained in the poll is well behind the other two, each of whom received 34 percent backing.
“The race is wide open and voters may be listening to learn more about Horner,” a Humphrey Institute analysis said.
Among voters who consider themselves independent, but not necessarily members of the Independence Party, Horner still only gets 26 percent support, with 38 percent saying they do not know who to support or refused to say. Dayton does far better than Emmer among independents, 23 percent to 13 percent.
The other interesting fact the poll shows is that Minnesotans earning at least $50,000 a year give Emmer a big advantage, while Dayton (who focuses on taxing the rich) gets a big lead among those earning less than $50,000.