Minnesota DFL Attorney General Keith Ellison and his Republican opponent Jim Schultz were tied in a new survey from Embold Research commissioned by MinnPost, the latest evidence of a tight race for the statewide office.
The poll found 47% of 1,585 likely general election voters would pick Schultz and 47% would choose Ellison, while 5% were unsure of who they’d vote for. The margin of error was +/- 2.6 percentage points. Crosstabs can be found here.
The survey, taken across Minnesota between Oct. 10 and Oct. 14, also found DFL state Auditor Julie Blaha was tied with Republican candidate Ryan Wilson.
DFL Secretary of State Steve Simon had a 7-percentage point lead over Republican Kim Crockett, the largest lead of any candidate for an executive office in the survey. Still, 10% of those polled were not sure who they would choose.
Earlier Monday, MinnPost released poll results in the governor’s race, which showed DFL Gov. Tim Walz with a slight edge over Republican Scott Jensen.
A victory in any of the contests would give the GOP its first win for a statewide executive office since Republican Tim Pawlenty was reelected as governor in 2006.
Schultz remains somewhat unknown
In the race for attorney general, the October poll is similar to one commissioned by MinnPost in early June, which found Schultz and Ellison statistically tied. That was before Schultz won the GOP primary against Doug Wardlow.
More people have made up their minds about the race since, but neither candidate has gained an advantage from the previously undecided voters.
Still, weeks before the Nov. 8 election, the poll shows some warning signs for Ellison, who was elected to the position in 2018 after 12 years in the U.S. House representing the 5th Congressional District. A plurality of voters surveyed, 45%, had an unfavorable view of the incumbent. The poll found 36% had a favorable view of Ellison. That’s roughly the same as voter attitudes toward the AG in June.
However, Schultz has a ways to go on name recognition. A plurality of people in the October survey — 39%— said they had never heard of Schultz, compared to 69% in June. The people who did know who Schultz is in the October poll were about evenly split in having a favorable, unfavorable or neutral view of Schultz.
At the same time, Embold pollster Ben Greenfield said there is opportunity for Ellison to improve, because the undecided voters surveyed lean Democratic and plan to vote for Walz, Simon and Blaha by wide margins.
“I do think it’s good news for Ellison that the people who remain undecided are leaning pretty significantly towards Democrats in the other elections,” Greenfield said. “But the downside of that is he’s an incumbent, he’s a well-known figure in the state, so if he hasn’t won them over already it might be difficult to win some of them over.”
The poll found Schultz led Ellison by 26 percentage points in the seven-county Twin Cities metro — excluding Minneapolis and St. Paul — and by 18 percentage points in Greater Minnesota. Ellison, meanwhile, had a 32-percentage point margin in Minneapolis and St. Paul.
Compared to the June poll, Ellison has gained ground in Minneapolis and St. Paul, but Schultz has swung the suburbs in his favor. In June, the poll found Ellison had a 44-41 lead in the suburbs. Schultz had a 60-34 lead in the new survey.
There is a smaller sample size in the subregions of the state compared to the statewide poll, increasing the margin of error. The margin of error for the October poll is +/- 4 percentage points in the two Twin Cities, +/- 7 percentage points in the metro area excluding Minneapolis and St. Paul and +/- 4 percentage points in Greater Minnesota.
The AG’s race so far has revolved mostly around crime and abortion, two issues at the top of voters’ minds in the midterm elections. At an MPR News debate on Friday, Schultz said his top priority was “crime, crime and crime.” Ellison opened by saying he will “protect your right to a safe, legal abortion.”
The poll found 43% of those surveyed view the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade as a priority in their upcoming vote in November, while 42% said violent crime was a priority. The rising cost of goods was the only issue that held a larger share of voters listing it as a priority.
Far more likely voters surveyed who favored Schultz said crime and inflation were a priority in their vote compared to abortion. Abortion and the overturning of Roe was the most commonly listed priority for those favoring Ellison.
While likely voters who are undecided in the AG race lean towards the DFL, they more often listed violent crime as a priority than Ellison voters. But they also listed abortion as a priority more than Schultz voters. (The category does have a high margin of error because it is made up of a small number of likely voters compared to the overall survey.)
Those undecided voters also tend to view U.S. Amy Klobuchar favorably, but are split on Walz and have unfavorable views of Biden, Trump and Jensen.
Simon leads Crockett for SOS
Minnesota’s race for secretary of state has drawn nationwide attention and national money. That’s in part because of Crockett, who hopes to restrict early voting, limit absentee ballots and has questioned the legitimacy of the 2020 election.
The MinnPost poll found Simon had a 48% to 41% lead, the largest of any candidate in the four statewide races this year. Greenfield said it’s pretty unusual for a “down-ballot” candidate to have the biggest lead of any candidate. However, Greenfield said the remaining undecided people lean more Republican compared to other contests, which means Crockett could make up ground but is struggling to bring some GOP-friendly voters on board.
Simon is running for a third term. He was first elected in 2014.
Republicans are faring better in the race for state auditor, a position that primarily oversees spending by local governments and also sits on state boards connected to investments, economic development, pensions and housing.
The poll found 40% of voters favoring the first-term incumbent Blaha and 40% siding with Wilson, an attorney who formerly ran a medical device research company. The two have clashed over the role of the auditor, and also whether to consider issues like climate change and social justice when deciding where to invest money like state employee pension funds.
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.
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.
Associate editor Greta Kaul contributed to this report.