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Minn. Poll: Many still making up minds on Franken

  • Article by: ERIC ROPER
  • Star Tribune
  • September 29, 2009 - 12:01 AM

Two months after being declared the winner in the longest Senate race in U.S. history, Al Franken has a job approval rating of just 41 percent, according to a Star Tribune Minnesota Poll.

Nearly a third of Minnesotans -- 30 percent -- say they still don't know how they feel about the state's newest senator while another 29 percent gave his job performance a thumbs down.

Poll respondent Dennis Johnson of Detroit Lakes said he hasn't seen much on Franken since his July swearing-in. "Since [the recount] I haven't really heard one way or another what's been going on," Johnson said. "So I have no idea what he has been doing."

Franken, who never broke 50 percent approval rating during his long campaign, has taken a low profile since arriving in Washington. He has mostly avoided the national limelight and instead championed low-controversy issues, such as service dogs for military members. 

Jane Webb of Cokato said she's still burned out from the drawn-out recount process. "I think that whole business was very upsetting and it was really stupid," Webb said. "I think people would rather just not even think about it."

Franken's office declined to comment on the poll, which interviewed 1,000 Minnesota adults between Sept. 21 and Sept. 24.

No honeymoon

Dan Hofrenning, a political science professor at St. Olaf College, said the poll shows there has been no "honeymoon period" for Franken.

"The campaign and the recount didn't seem to improve Al Franken's standing with the voters," Hofrenning said. "He was able to eke out this plurality win, but he starts his tenure as senator with a much lower approval rating than most incumbent members of Congress."

The good news for Franken, Hofrenning said, is that the large percentage of undecided Minnesotans suggests that "there are a lot of people who are still in the middle making up their minds."

Franken continues to run strong among Democrats, with 70 percent saying they approve of the job he's doing. Only 19 percent of Republicans felt the same. Independents appear the most divided on Franken, displaying a nearly three-way split: 36 percent approved of the job he's doing while 32 percent disapproved and 32 percent didn't know.

Eric Roper • 202-408-2723

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