SurveyUSA/KSTP-TV poll has the GOP endorsee on top.
In the wake of scoring the Republican endorsement for governor, Rep. Tom Emmer is running ahead of his opponents, according to a SurveyUSA/KSTP-TV poll of Minnesota voters.
Emmer of Delano was the choice of 41 percent of registered voters who say they're likely to vote, compared to 33 percent who favored DFL endorsee Margaret Anderson Kelliher and 9 percent who chose Independence Party candidate Tom Horner. Another 17 percent were undecided.
Emmer held similar leads in head-to-head matches with DFLers Mark Dayton and Matt Entenza in the poll.
"Emmer's support is probably mostly reflective of the backlash against Democrats," said University of Minnesota political science Prof. Lawrence Jacobs.
"You could almost look at this poll as defining the drag on Democratic candidates rather than defining the strength of any particular candidate," he said. "Emmer's benefitting from that drag."
Details of the poll also indicate that Horner, a former Republican, was drawing a bigger share of DFL voters than Republican voters, Jacobs said. Independence Party candidates drew from Democrats in the 2002 and 2006 gubernatorial elections.
Emmer also did slightly better with women voters than did Kelliher, KSTP reported.
"It raises a question, at least, about whether the gender card is her ticket to the governor's office," Jacobs said.
The poll, conducted Monday through Wednesday, questioned 588 likely voters in the November election, and had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.1 percentage points. Emmer won the GOP endorsement April 30. Kelliher, speaker of the Minnesota House, won DFL endorsement April 24.
The poll relied on automated recorded phone calls rather than live interviewers.
"While it's nice to be ahead in any poll, with six months to go before the election, the most important takeaway from these numbers is the high number of voters who identify themselves as Republicans in Minnesota," said Emmer campaign manager David FitzSimmons.
DFLer candidates "are struggling to gain traction within their own party," said Michael Brodkorb, deputy chair of the state GOP.
The DFLers were mostly dismissive of the poll results.
Kelliher campaign manager Jaime Tincher said, "I think when Minnesotans get to know Tom Emmer, his level of support will drop."
Entenza spokesperson Bridget Cusick said, "We're so far off from the election at this point, I don't think polls have much meaning other than name recognition."
Dayton said Emmer "is not very well known at this point" and also suggested that his support could wane as his policies become better understood.
Emmer held a 42 percent to 34 percent lead over Dayton and led Entenza 42 percent to 31 percent.
In other campaign news, Dayton on Friday presented a 10-point jobs program that calls for more borrowing for construction projects, more spending on education and new laws to encourage development of high-speed Internet.
Citing "shortsightedness" by Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Dayton proposed a $1 billion to $1.2 billion bonding bill. Pawlenty approved a $686 million package.
"I will increase state funding for education every year I'm governor," Dayton said. He also called for creating a fund of $200 million to $300 million for energy-saving projects.
Dayton has proposed raising taxes on the wealthiest Minnesotans to help pay for programs.
Brodkorb said Friday that cutting taxes would better promote job growth.
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