Biden holds narrow lead over Trump, but GOP voters are more enthusiastic

President Joe Biden holds a narrow lead over former President Donald Trump among likely voters in Minnesota, but his supporters are less enthusiastic than the Republican’s, according to a new poll taken five months out from Election Day.

The Star Tribune/MPR News/KARE 11 Minnesota Poll found Biden with a 45%-41% lead over Trump ahead of their anticipated general election rematch. Seven percent of respondents said they were undecided and 6% supported independent candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

The poll’s findings are based on interviews with 800 likely Minnesota voters conducted from June 3 to June 5. The poll’s margin of error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

Biden’s lead over Trump is driven largely by a 45-point advantage in Hennepin and Ramsey counties. Trump leads everywhere else, including in other counties of the Twin Cities area, where he was up 12 percentage points.

Rosalee Byington, a 75-year-old Biden supporter from Circle Pines, said she sees the Democratic president as someone who is “caring about the United States and our democracy.”

“With Donald Trump, he just appalls me in that he thinks that he can just get away with everything,” Byington said. “[He thinks] he isn’t guilty, and he isn’t responsible, and he doesn’t have to accept the felonies.”

Byington is among just 31% of Biden backers who said they were “very enthusiastic” about supporting the president. The Democratic coalition in Minnesota and the U.S. has fractured over Biden’s handling of the Israel-Hamas war, with many on the left bristling at his support for Israel and demanding he do more to prevent civilian deaths in Gaza. Few poll respondents, though, mentioned the war as their top issue.

In contrast, nearly two-thirds of Trump supporters said they were “very enthusiastic” about their candidate.

No Republican presidential candidate has won Minnesota since 1972. But Trump has said he thinks he has a good chance of winning Minnesota this November.

The former president came within about 1.5 percentage points of winning the state in 2016. Four years later, Trump lost Minnesota by about 7 percentage points. That result was in line with a Minnesota poll conducted in September 2020, which had Biden ahead of Trump by 6 percentage points.

George Palke, an 81-year-old retired basketball coach from Roseville, is supporting Trump even though he said the former president is “obnoxious when he doesn’t need to be.” Palke said his top concern is the economy and he doesn’t like Biden’s policies.

“We have tremendous inflation. Things just keep going up and up and up. On a set income, as a retired person, that’s really tough,” Palke said. “There’s got to be something that can be done to bring it back down a bit.”

Minnesotans who were polled cited “protecting democracy,” the economy and jobs, and immigration as their top three issues. Trump supporters cared most about the economy and immigration, while Biden voters listed protecting democracy and climate change as their two most important issues.

Women, nonwhite voters and college graduates favor Biden by large margins in the poll. Trump holds larger leads with men and people without college degrees. The two presidential candidates were nearly tied among white voters.

Trump had an edge with older voters while Biden garnered more support among Minnesotans under 50.

Among independents, Trump and Biden were effectively tied. Thirteen percent of independents said they would back Kennedy, and 12% were undecided.

Brandon Nelson, an autism therapist from St. Paul, said he is undecided on whom he will vote for. The 35-year-old independent voter said he can’t see himself supporting Biden, Trump or Kennedy. He cited the Israel-Hamas war as his most important issue and said he disagrees with how the U.S. has dealt with it.

“I don’t feel like the United States has shown any sort of moral leadership on that issue whatsoever,” Nelson said. “The ongoing fighting and the thousands and thousands of civilian deaths cannot possibly be our best option.”

A narrow majority of voters, 53%, said they disapproved of Biden’s job performance. But 52% of voters said they also disapproved of Trump’s performance as president.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar received a better review than the two presidential front-runners, with 55% of Minnesotans who were polled approving of her job performance and 36% disapproving.

But Klobuchar’s approval rating is lower than when the Star Tribune last polled it in 2017. Her approval rating was 72% that year. Klobuchar is seeking a fourth term to the U.S. Senate in November.

Byington is among her supporters, calling Klobuchar “very consistent” and “a thorough example of a person that thinks well.”


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