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Republicans In Minnesota Warming to Obama More Than In Other Upper Midwestern States

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Barack Obama is officially in the ‘honeymoon phase’ of his presidency – the 44th president is just one week into his administration with approval ratings through the roof (67 percent in the latest Gallup survey, with just 14 percent disapproving).

It is no surprise to learn that Democrats and independents are giving Obama high marks and are optimistic that the new administration can begin to solve some of the economic and foreign policy problems that beset the presidency of George W. Bush.

But what about Republicans?

The latest SurveyUSA poll released last week found Republicans in Minnesota to be giving Obama significant support, and the best notices in the Upper Midwest. Obama scored a net +3 in approval rating among GOPers in Minnesota (40 percent approving, 37 percent disapproving), compared to –11 in Wisconsin and –12 in Iowa.

Obama Presidential Approval Rating Among Upper Midwestern Republicans

State
Approve
Disapprove
Net
Minnesota
40
37
+3
Wisconsin
33
44
-11
Iowa
35
47
-12
Note: Polling conducted by SurveyUSA of 600 adults overall in each state, January 20-21, 2009.

What is even more telling, however, is that Minnesota Republicans have also had a longer journey to reach this plurality support of the President. SurveyUSA polls on the eve of the election found Republicans in Minnesota to be voting against Obama at a much higher rate than Republicans in other Upper Midwestern states.

Presidential Vote Choice Among Upper Midwestern Republicans

State
Obama
McCain
Net
Wisconsin
16
82
-66
Iowa
14
83
-69
Minnesota
10
88
-78
Note: Polling conducted by SurveyUSA of 650+ likely voters overall in each state, October 28-29, 2008 (Iowa and Wisconsin) and October 30 – November 1, 2008 (Minnesota).

Exit polling on Election Day also found Republicans to break in larger numbers against Obama in Minnesota (-83) than in Wisconsin (-79) and Iowa (-81).

Minnesota Republicans also gave Obama the fifth highest approval rating among the 14 states SurveyUSA polled nationwide last week – behind only the liberal coastal states of New York, Massachusetts, Washington, and California. Wisconsin and Iowa ranked 12th and 13th respectively.

Obama Presidential Approval Rating Among Republicans In 14 States

State
Approve
Disapprove
Net
New York
63
25
+38
Massachusetts
54
31
+23
Washington
47
34
+13
California
47
36
+11
Minnesota
40
37
+3
New Mexico
40
40
0
Kansas
39
39
0
Oregon
36
39
-3
Missouri
37
42
-5
Kentucky
36
45
-9
Alabama
34
43
-9
Wisconsin
33
44
-11
Iowa
35
47
-12
Virginia
31
44
-13
Note: Polling conducted by SurveyUSA of 600 adults overall in each state, January 20-21, 2009.

Of course, it is unlikely, if and when Al Franken takes a seat on Capitol Hill later this year, that he will experience such a honeymoon period from Minnesota Republicans as that currently enjoyed by Obama.


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Remains of the Data

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Political Crumbs

Small Club in St. Paul

Mark Dayton is one of just three Minnesotans ever elected to three different statewide offices. Dayton, of course, had previously served as State Auditor (1991-1995) and U.S. Senator (2001-2007) before winning the governorship in 2010. At that time, he joined Republicans Edward Thye and J.A.A. Burnquist on this very short list. Burnquist was elected lieutenant governor in 1914 but then became governor after the death of Democrat Winfield Hammond in 1915. He then won the gubernatorial elections of 1916 and 1918 and eight terms as attorney general two decades later (1939-1955). Thye was similarly first elected lieutenant governor of the Gopher State and became governor after the resignation of fellow GOPer Harold Stasson in 1943. Thye won one additional full term as governor in 1944 and then two terms to the U.S. Senate (1947-1959). Twenty Minnesotans have been elected to two different statewide offices.


Respect Your Elders?

With retirement announcements this year by veteran U.S. Representatives such as 30-term Democrat John Dingell of Michigan, 20-term Democrat George Miller of California, and 18-term Republican Tom Petri of Wisconsin, it is no surprise that retirees from the 113th Congress are one of the most experienced cohorts in recent decades. Overall, these 24 exiting members of the House have served an average of 11.0 terms - the second longest tenure among retirees across the last 18 cycles since 1980. Only the U.S. Representatives retiring in 2006 had more experience, averaging 11.9 terms. (In that cycle, 10 of the 11 retiring members served at least 10 terms, with GOPer Bill Jenkins of Tennessee the lone exception at just five). Even without the aforementioned Dingell, the average length of service in the chamber of the remaining 23 retirees in 2014 is 10.2 terms - which would still be the third highest since 1980 behind the 2006 and 2012 (10.5 terms) cycles.


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