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Gov. Tim Pawlenty's approval rating remained unchanged over the summer, with slightly more than half of Minnesotans saying he is doing a good job, according to the latest Star Tribune Minnesota Poll.

At a time when Pawlenty actively campaigned for Republican presidential nominee John McCain, and was criticized in some corners for spending too much time doing so, the governor's approval rating held at 54 percent, according to the poll.

His disapproval rating dropped to 31 percent, a 6 percent fall since a Minnesota Poll conducted four months ago, in which Pawlenty had received his highest disapproval rating during his five-plus years as governor.

In the most recent poll, Pawlenty fared best among people 65 and older and those between the ages of 18 to 34.

He won a 59 percent approval rating among those age groups -- while getting his highest unfavorable ratings from those ages 45 to 64, where 38 percent said they disapproved of his job performance.

The poll was conducted during three days ending Sept. 12.

When personal income was considered, Pawlenty had his highest approval ratings among those earning $30,000 to $49,999 -- 60 percent. He received higher marks in outstate Minnesota, where 63 percent liked his job performance, than in the seven-county Twin Cities metro area, where his approval stood at 48 percent. White evangelicals, a strong political base for the governor, gave him a 68 percent job approval rating.

"He hasn't raised taxes to speak of," said Mildred Schroeder of Caledonia, a poll respondent who approved of Pawlenty's performance. "He kept his word on that part."

Schroeder also said Pawlenty, whose name was mentioned frequently as a possible McCain running mate, would have been a better choice than Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

But others were less impressed. Roberta Griggs of Apple Valley, said the governor spent too much time "hyping for McCain" at the expense of issues in Minnesota.

"Actually, I was scared to death he was going to get it," said Griggs, referring to Pawlenty being picked as McCain's running mate, "because then we'd be left with [Lt. Gov. Carol] Molnau as our governor."

Mike Kaszuba • 612-673-4388