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Continued: Minnesota Poll: Nearly half favor PolyMet copper mine

In the Twin Cities area as a whole, opinions were equally divided among the three possible answers, while in the suburbs, 45 percent said the mine should be approved. Again, there were significantly more in the suburbs who were not sure, 36 percent, compared with the number who thought the plan should be rejected.

There were few differences among age and income groups, but there was a clear split along gender lines. Men were more likely to approve than women, and more women than men said they were not sure.

“I’m all for bringing jobs to Minnesota,” said Jodi Denzer, 35, of St. Paul Park. “But I don’t think that we should do things that bring harm to our environment. I just don’t know enough about the situation.”

Partisan breakdowns

Republicans were evenly split between approval and “not sure,” with only 3 percent opposing the mine. Democrats said they support the plan, by a small plurality, but that reflects the weight of favorable opinions on the Iron Range, long a DFL enclave, said Coker.

The split among Democratic voters is forcing party leaders to walk a careful line in an election year between their traditional blue-collar base and environmentalists. Gov. Mark Dayton has said that he is keeping an open mind on the issue and plans to wait until he has more information before making a decision, likely late this year at the earliest.

The results were similar to polling that PolyMet and environmental groups have conducted, officials said.

Bruce Richardson, a spokesman for PolyMet, said that the company’s research shows some people are not engaged and are willing to let state regulators manage the decision. Aaron Klemz, communications director for Friends of the BWCA, an advocacy group, said that over time the public’s awareness of the mine and its environmental risks has increased substantially.

 

Josephine Marcotty • 612-673-7394

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  • How the poll was conducted

    Today’s Star Tribune Minnesota Poll findings are based on interviews conducted Feb. 10-12 with 800 Minnesota adults via land line (75 percent) and cellphone (25 percent). The poll was conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling and Research Inc.

    Results of a poll based on 800 interviews will vary by no more than 3.5 percentage points, plus or minus, from the overall population 95 times out of 100. Margins are larger for groups within the sample, such as Democrats and Republicans.

    The self-identified party affiliation of the random sample is: 39 percent Democrat, 30 percent Republican, 26 percent independent or other party and 5 percent who said “none” or declined to cite a party affiliation.

    Sampling error does not take into account other sources of variation inherent in public opinion surveys, such as nonresponse, question wording or context effects. In addition, news events may have affected opinions during the period the poll was taken.

    Readers can e-mail questions to djmcgrath@startribune.com.

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