There are no surprises in the presidential preferences expressed by Minnesotans in the pre-Super Tuesday poll unveiled by Fox9 last night. The Rasmussen survey of “likely voters” shows McCain and Obama surging here, as they have in most surveys of other states holding primaries tomorrow. But how those preferences will translate in a state where people have to spend an evening at the caucuses rather than having all day to vote at their leisure puts a premium on ground organization. We’ll see.
The eye-opener involves the two survey questions about Gov. Tim Pawlenty. Back in October, a couple of months after the 35W bridge collapse, a Strib Minnesota Poll showed Pawlenty with a 59 percent approval rating, his highest in four years. Three months later, Rasmussen says that 45 percent of Minnesotans call Pawlenty’s performance excellent or good, while 53 percent term it fair or poor. The real shocker concerns Pawlenty as a prospective Republican VP candidate: While 29 percent say it would make them more likely to vote for the GOP ticket, 35 percent say it would make them less likely to cast their votes for the Republicans. This suggests not only that MnDOT-related scandals and the economy have cost Pawlenty more than anyone has realized, but that the governor has become a more polarizing figure in Minnesota over time.
The Republicans have already invested a lot of political capital in this swing state by choosing to hold their convention here. It’s hard to think that John McCain or the chieftains of the national GOP will find much savor in the prospect of spending more political capital here by choosing a VP for the ticket who looks like a net liability in his own state.