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State Senate won’t conduct annual State Fair survey but will help voters find new districts

An annual State Fair ritual for policy wonks is taking a hiatus.

Visitors to the Education Building at the State Fair won't get to take the Senate opinion survey.

An annual State Fair ritual for policy wonks is taking a hiatus.

The state Senate booth in the Education Building won’t have its opinion survey this year. Instead, staffers will help voters find their new districts and candidates in the wake of redistricting.

But they promise the survey will be back at the Fair next year. And there will still be an opportunity to weigh in on state issues at the state House booth, right next door.

“We’re going to give the survey a rest for a year. We’re finding voters are still confused on the new districts, so we’ll have a display, with maps, and laptops that will help people find their districts and which candidates are running,” said Scott Magnuson, director of the Senate Information Office.

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Dropping the survey for a year was the best use of limited resources, he said.

The Senate has been conducting surveys on public policy issues for decades, with an occasional year off, Magnuson said.

Until the mid-1990s, the Senate and House conducted joint State Fair surveys, but lately each has had its own.

The House surveys are quicker, often yes or no questions, because House officials think fairgoers want to move quickly through the booth and on to the Pronto Pups.

The Senate surveys have been longer and more nuanced.

“We’ve tried to put people in the shoes of a legislator, considering all the factors, so the questions are more complicated and require a great deal of thought,” Magnuson said.

Last year, the Senate State Fair survey asked things like:

  • Should school start before Labor Day? 54% said yes; 47% no.
  • Should liquor stores be open on Sunday? 63% yes; 31% no.
  • Favor constitutional amendment for Voter ID? 47% yes; 50% no.
  • What should the state’s involvement in a new Vikings Stadium be?
    A. None 47.57% (3,911)
    B. Support with roads and infrastructure 26.07% (2,143)
    C. Allow local city/county to increase taxes 11.52% (947)
    D. Pay one-third of the cost 8.22% (676)
    E. Undecided/ No Opinion 6.62% (544)

We know how the stadium issued turned out: legislators approved about a 50 percent state subsidy. We’ll see in November on the Voter ID amendment.