Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton has expanded her lead over Republican Donald Trump in the state, according to a new Star Tribune Minnesota Poll.
Clinton leads Trump 47 to 39 percent in the poll of 625 registered Minnesota voters taken after last week’s third and final presidential debate. It has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4 percentage points. Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson won 6 percent of support, while two other third-party candidates, the Green Party’s Jill Stein and independent conservative Evan McMullin, both drew just 1 percent.
Clinton’s lead over Trump is 2 points larger than in the last Minnesota Poll, in mid-September. She holds a huge lead in the state’s two most populous counties, Hennepin and Ramsey, and has shrunk Trump’s lead in the remaining Twin Cities counties to within the poll’s margin of error. Trump still holds a small lead in outstate Minnesota, but it too shrank since September.
In an important measure of momentum, Clinton seized the lead from Trump among independent voters, a group he had been winning in the previous Minnesota Poll. Only 6 percent of voters are undecided, a sign that people are making up their minds with Election Day just two weeks away.
While she did not break 50 percent, Clinton made gains by nearly every one of the Minnesota Poll’s measures. She leads among voters between ages 18 and 64, with her biggest lead in the 18-34 group; Trump catches up only among voters 65 and older, where the two candidates are tied.
Trump is still leading Clinton with male voters, but she wipes that out with a much larger lead among female voters. Clinton is leading with voters who make less than $50,000 a year, while Trump has a smaller lead among voters who earn above that level.
“With more people voting in this election than ever before, Hillary for Minnesota is working hard to turn out voters across Minnesota to vote early in support of Hillary Clinton’s vision for an economy that works for everyone, not just those at the top,” Clinton state director Mackenzie Taylor said in a statement.
Andy Post, spokesman for Trump’s campaign in Minnesota, argued that the presidential race “remains fluid” in the state. He said Democrats and independents are joining Republicans to back Trump, although the Minnesota Poll showed Trump garnering only 5 percent support from Democrats and Clinton pulling ahead among independents.
“We are excited about the support we are seeing in parts of the state that haven’t voted for a Republican in years,” Post said in a statement.
The poll of likely voters was conducted Oct. 20-22, the three days following last week’s debate, and included participants reached on both landlines and cellphones. Clinton’s widening lead in Minnesota mirrors recent polls of the country and of numerous swing states, which have generally contained good news for the Democratic candidate. That’s after multiple women accused Trump of sexual abuse and harassment, and even many fellow Republicans criticized him for refusing during the third debate to promise to honor the election’s outcome.
Minnesota, with a record of electing Democrats for president that dates to 1976, has not been a major focus of either presidential campaign this year. Clinton, the former first lady and secretary of state, was last in the state in July, when she spoke at a teachers union convention; Trump, the New York businessman and reality TV star, swung through in August for a fundraiser but has yet to make a public appearance in Minnesota as a presidential candidate.
After an election cycle that has featured unusual discontent with both candidates, the poll found both Clinton and Trump continue to register higher unfavorable than favorable marks. The poll found 46 percent of respondents hold an unfavorable view of Clinton, but Trump easily outpaced that with 58 percent viewing him unfavorably. Her favorable rating was considerably higher than his, too.
The unpopularity of both major-party candidates has raised worries about voter turnout this year.
“It’s hard to tell right now, when the two candidates rightly or wrongly have high unfavorables, whether each party’s respective base is going to turn out and vote,” said Ken Martin, the DFL Party chairman.
Who turns out will have consequences down the ballot in Minnesota, which has a couple of competitive congressional races this year and political control of the state Legislature up for grabs.
Despite Trump’s struggles, Minnesota Republican Party Chairman Keith Downey said he thinks polls may have a hard time capturing the depth of anger that many voters feel this year toward the political establishment. That could still lift Trump and Republicans down the ballot, he said.
“At a national race level between Trump and Clinton, I think that still gives Trump room to recover,” Downey said. He acknowledged Trump appears unlikely to win Minnesota.
Patrick Condon • 651-925-5049