In most political polls, voters are asked to respond to questions with only a few potential answers: Do they approve of the job being done by an incumbent governor, say? Yes, no, no opinion.
But a recent survey conducted by Change Research for MinnPost included something else: open-ended questions. Respondents were asked what they considered to be the most important issue facing the state; the most important issue facing their city and town; and how COVID-19 impacted their decision about whether to attend the Minnesota State Fair.
As one might expect, many of the answers were earnest expressions of concern on well-known topics. Most voters, for instance, said the most important issue facing Minnesota or their city or town was COVID-19. Climate change was a big deal for Democrats, while opposition to Gov. Tim Walz and concerns about taxes were important to Republicans.
But other answers tackled some, uh, less well-known issues.
Here, then, is MinnPost’s totally objective rundown of the most unusual, unexpected and — as a good Minnesotan might say — interesting answers to the poll’s open-ended inquiries:
A force more powerful than COVID-19: Tim McGraw
In answering our question about attending the Minnesota State Fair this year, one young woman from Ramsey County said she planned to skip it because of COVID-19 — until she remembered she had concert tickets for the country singer Tim McGraw. “Only reason I’m going to the fair this year and will only be there just before the concert starts and then leaving right after,” she wrote.
This may be old news if you’re a reader of the The Winona Post, but it turns there’s some people very unhappy with the latest roadway feature of bluff country: roundabouts. Indeed, two people in suburban Winona County identified the implementation of traffic circles as the most important issue in their community: “Dumb roundabouts they are putting in,” said one woman. “Stopping MnDot’s plan to install 4 idiotic roundabouts on State Highway 43,” said a man.
Who’s to Blaine?
There appeared to be some pretty wide disagreement over the merits of a certain northern suburb. When asked about the top issue in her community, one woman wrote, simply: “BLAINE.” As if to respond to that slight, another person wrote in response to the same question: “Blaine is actually pretty great.”
An Itasca County mystery
Up in Itasca County, one person said their top local issue was solving a certain mystery: “Whose dog pooped in front of city hall,” though it’s possible that was less of a question than a statement.
The really important stuff
Two different men from Ramsey County had sports at the top of their list of concerns: “Can Saint Thomas become successful in Division I?” wrote one. (Spoiler: Maybe.) “Can the Gophers get to the Rose Bowl?” asked the other. (Hahaha.)
He seems fun
While many respondents kept their concerns to practical considerations — buckthorn, “nosey neighbors” and Bloomington being “shitty,” one person — a young man from the Dakota County suburbs — strayed into the philosophical (we hope) in identifying his top statewide issue: “people existing.”
Feels bigger than a local issue
On the less practical side of things, one respondent — a young Democratic woman from suburban Olmsted County — said her top local issue was a “lack of bidets in Porta potties.”
How can it be?
A middle-aged Republican woman living in rural Polk County was worried about air quality in her town — and noise from trains. But, perhaps more importantly, she also lamented her community’s lack of essential services: “Would be nice to able to buy a can of pop in town, but we don’t even have a pop machine in a population of 100.”
Please, Lord, let this be a typo
Finally, in what we hope was not a prediction, one person wrote: “COVID29.”