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MinnPost poll: Inflation, abortion, crime top Minnesota voters’ priorities

While crime and inflation were cited as top issues by voters of both parties, they were more often of concern to those who identify with the Republican Party. Abortion was an issue mostly for Democratic-supporting voters.

Speedway gas station, St. Paul
MinnPost photo by Corey Anderson

Rising prices for gas and groceries, abortion rights and violent crime – in that order – were the top issues for Minnesota voters who responded to the latest MinnPost/Embold Research poll.

While crime and inflation were cited as top issues by voters of both parties, they were more often of concern to those who identify with the Republican Party. Abortion was an issue mostly for Democratic-supporting voters. That tracks with the campaign themes of the two parties as they compete for eight seats in Congress, 201 seats in the state House and Senate and four statewide partisan offices.

The poll of 1,585 Minnesota residents Oct. 10 through Oct. 14 asked about campaign issues in three ways: Two of the questions were open-ended, with poll respondents offering “in a few words” what they thought were the most important issues facing Minnesota and what was the most important issue facing “your city or town.” Later, they were given a list of 12 issues and asked to choose up to four that “are a priority in your upcoming vote in November.” Crosstabs for the poll can be found here.

There were 1,585 different open-ended answers about Minnesota, but the pollsters did group answers into similar categories when possible. For issues facing the state, 20% of respondents listed crime. After that, 13% of voters polled mentioned inflation, 11% abortion, 10% economy and jobs, 9% taxes, 8% education, 6% democracy and voting, 5% health care, 5% climate and 5% housing.

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When the focus was brought to “your city or town,” crime remained at the top at 18%, but housing and taxes were next at 10% each. After those three issues, 9% cited inflation, 8% education, 7% economy and jobs, 4% policing and 3% race/racism/diversity.

When given a list of 12 issues, the cost of goods was shown as the dominant issue of the campaign. Some 61% of poll respondents picked it as one of their four most-concerning issues, with nearly identical concern across age groups, gender and among both white respondents and people of color.

There is a partisan difference, however. Among those who said they voted for Trump in 2020, 80% named inflation as a top issue while only 43% of Biden voters did so.

“Inflation is, by a wide margin, the issue on more voters’ minds than any other – similar to what we’re seeing virtually everywhere across the country,” wrote pollster Ben Greenfield, who managed the poll for Embold Research. “Among (DFL Gov. Tim) Walz voters, abortion is by far the top issue, followed by insurrection and political extremism, climate change and then inflation.

Poll results: Top issues
Q: And which of the following issues are a priority in your upcoming vote in November? Please choose up to four:
Source: MinnPost/Embold Research

“For (GOP nominee Scott) Jensen voters, inflation is by far the top issue, followed by immigration, crime, taxes and the teaching of Critical Race Theory in public schools,” Greenfield wrote.

Abortion has an opposite partisan distribution from inflation. While 43% cited the overturning of Roe v. Wade as a priority issue, the crosstabs of the poll show that it was of priority among Biden voters and was hardly mentioned by Trump voters. Seventy six percent of Biden voters included it among their four choices; 6% of Trump voters did so.

Overturning Roe v. Wade was the second-most cited issue among women poll respondents.

Two more issues divided voters along partisan lines. Among Trump voters, 60% cited crime as an issue of priority; 26% of Biden voters did so. And while 70% of Trump voters mentioned illegal immigration, just 5% of Biden voters agreed.

The Biden-Trump election aftermath colors two other questions as well. “Attacks by political extremists and insurrectionists” was among the 12 issues promoted by the poll. Among Biden voters, 53% cited it; 4% of Trump voters did so.

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The poll also asked participants to say which candidate received more votes in 2020. Overall, 64% responded that Biden received more votes; 36% said Trump. Nearly all Biden voters thought the Democratic president received more votes – 97 percent – but only 22 percent of Trump voters believed he received fewer votes nationally.

Biden received 81,268,867 votes; Trump received 74,216,747 votes. The Electoral College tally was 306 for Biden and 232 for Trump. It was the official – and usually ceremonial – opening of each state’s Electoral College votes that was temporarily disrupted by the violent storming of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

Minnesota’s 10 Electoral College votes – equal to the number of U.S. House members and senators – went to Biden, who won the state vote 1,717,077 to 1,484,065.

The open-ended responses varied widely. A white, suburban woman who said she was between 18 and 34 years old listed “currently, reproductive rights” as her most important issue facing the state. For her city or town, she wrote “elected officials who are more concerned with reelection than with their constituents.”

A white woman in rural Minnesota between the ages of 50 and 64 said “too many handouts for immigrants, illegal aliens and no help for the working middle class.” An African American woman in the suburban Tin Cities between the ages of 35 and 49 listed “the rise in the cost of living” and “small petty crime.”

A 65-plus white woman from the suburban metro area listed guns as the most important issue facing the state and “lack of good restaurants” as the issue facing her city or town.

Partisan divisions also came up. A 35-to-49 year old, white Twin Cities woman listed “Republicans” and “income equality.” A white woman over 65 from rural Minnesota listed “liberal policies are ruining our state” and “gas and food prices.”

Methodology note

The poll was conducted from Oct. 10 to Oct. 14, and respondents included 1,585 likely general election voters. The poll was conducted by Embold Research, the nonpartisan arm of Change Research. The pollsters recruit respondents via targeted ads on websites and social media platforms. Change Research has a B- pollster rating from FiveThirtyEight.

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Embold Research uses a “modeled” margin of error, which it says accounts for the effects of weighting the poll (or making adjustments to better reflect the state’s demographics). The results were weighted on age, gender, race/ethnicity, region, and 2020 presidential vote.