A slim majority of Minnesota voters hold a negative view of President Donald Trump with eight months to go until the general election, according to a new Star Tribune/MPR News Minnesota Poll.
Statewide, 52% of voters disapprove of Trump's job performance, while 44% approve of his work in the White House. But those views did not translate into direct support for the Democratic-led effort to impeach and remove the Republican president from office. Half of voters said they disapproved of the impeachment proceedings, while 42% favored it.
The president's latest approval ratings mark a slight improvement from an October Minnesota Poll, when the president's approval rating dipped to 40%. Fifty-six percent of voters held negative views of his tenure at that time.
The new results come as the president ramps up his campaign to win Minnesota, which would make him the first Republican to do so since 1972. The campaign, which already includes dozens of paid staff across the state, has vowed to spend heavily to win the state, which Trump narrowly lost to Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016. Minnesotans are sharply divided along partisan, gender and geographic lines, the poll showed. The president enjoys his strongest support among men and those with no college degree.
Among men, 49% approve of the president's time on office, but only 40% percent of women hold the same view. Half of those with no college degree approve of the president, but just 39% of college graduates approve.
Among Republicans, 92% approve of Trump's performance, while 97% of Democrats disapprove of his time as president. Independents were more evenly split, with 48 % holding a negative view of the president and 44 % viewing his work in a positive light. The telephone poll of 800 registered voters was conducted Feb. 17-19 and has a margin of error of +/-3.5 %
In Hennepin and Ramsey counties, seven in ten voters disapprove of Trump's performance. But in the metro suburbs, which are expected to be heavily targeted by both parties this November, 54 % voiced approval. The president's support was strongest in southern Minnesota, where nearly six in ten voters approve of his performance. Voters in northern Minnesota were evenly split, 48% to 48%.
The president got higher marks for his handling of the economy and jobs, which is emerging as a central theme of his re-election pitch. Half of the voters polled said he is doing a good job in that area, while 43 % disapproved. The poll registered strongest support on the economy in the metro suburbs and southern Minnesota, where six in ten voters approved of his work.
Christina Meyer, a real estate agent from Shakopee who voted for both Republicans and Democrats in the past, credits the president for the strong economy. She was initially drawn to Trump because he offered "something different from what we've had in there the last seven and eight presidents." Now, she says, a booming economy and low interest rates are fueling home sales.
"People feel empowered, they just feel more confident right now," she said. "People work so hard, all of us work hard, so to see a strong economy is good."
Kaden Kremin, a Trump supporter from the southwestern Minnesota town of Tyler, also cited the economy as a factor in his support. The 19-year-old, who works as a support aide for people with disabilities, said job prospects have improved since Trump took office. He also likes the president's brash communication style.
"He's pretty straightforward with what he says," he said. "I enjoy that he doesn't really have a filter."
Minnesotans' views on the president's handling of national security and foreign policy were less positive statewide. A slim majority — 52% — said the president's actions have made Americans less safe. That number rises among some voter demographics seen as key for the upcoming election, including women and voters under 34. Nearly three in four voters in Hennepin and Ramsey counties said they believe the president's actions have led to increased risk.
Minneapolis' Peter Wilson said he believes the nation is "far and away less safe" under Trump. The 77-year-old retiree worries the president's actions, including the order to halt direct military aide to Ukraine at the center of the impeachment case, send the message to allies that they "can't rely on us unless they placate Trump personally."
"He governs by fear and division," said Wilson, who plans to vote for a Democrat this November. "He's vindictive and petty and none of that helps to run a country because a country is all the people, whether you like them or not."
Support for congressional Democrats' effort to impeach the president has fallen since October. A Minnesota Poll conducted weeks before the House voted to formally authorize proceedings found that Minnesotans were evenly split, with 47% of voters approved of the idea.
Now, in the wake of the U.S. Senate's voted to acquit the president, 42% of voters think impeachment was a good idea. Half were opposed. Views break sharply along party lines: 94% of Republicans were against the effort and 86% of Democrats supported. it. About six in ten independents said they opposed impeachment.
Wilson, the Minneapolis retiree, said Congress had a legal and constitutional obligation to bring forward the articles of impeachment based on the president's conduct. But he worries the process was "ineffective and will be turned against" the party on the ballot this November.
"They were following their conscience and the law, but they didn't have the country united behind them," he said of Democratic lawmakers.
Kevin Sawier, a 41-year-old marketing professional from New Hope, called the president a "walking, talking example of why we should have limited power at the federal level."
"He continues to embarrass himself with his public demeanor," he said. "He does things without any regard for a consistent political philosophy or the betterment of the country."
Sawier, an independent who leans libertarian, wants to see Trump out of office. But he didn't think the president's conduct in regards to Ukraine rose to an impeachable offense. He'd rather have voters decide themselves this November.
"To me, it's something that should be resolved by elections," he said.
Torey Van Oot • 651-925-5049