By Mike Mulcahy
April 12, 1999
Part of The First 100 Days Series.
A new Minnesota Public Radio-St. Paul Pioneer Press poll shows most Minnesotans
still think highly of Governor Ventura after his first 100 days in office. Most
like his plain-spoken style and agree with him that people should rely on
themselves, not government, to solve their problems. But a significant number of
people also say it's too soon to judge the governor's performance, and they'll
wait before they make up their minds about Ventura.
AFTER 100 DAYS ON THE JOB,
Governor Ventura's honeymoon with the public is still
going strong. The MPR-Pioneer Press poll shows 57 percent of those surveyed rate
his performance excellent or good, while only two percent rate it poor. That's
about the same job-approval rating former Governor Arne Carlson had at the
height of his popularity just before he left office. Nearly two-thirds say
Ventura's style is appealing; and more than half consider him a breath of fresh
air. Among those polled who like the Ventura style is Jill Fury, a Republican
who lives just north of Fergus Falls.
I like the idea that he isn't afraid to speak his mind. I like the idea that
he's just not spouting a bunch of b.s. like the politicians do. It's nice to
have somebody who speaks what he thinks instead of what he thinks he has to
Others questioned in the survey say Ventura is a welcome change from the
Democrats and the Republicans. Meg Tuthill is a longtime DFL'er from
It's same old, same old, same old. I've been doing politics since I was 20
in this state, and they're talking the same old rhetoric; and everybody got
tired of it because we knew it wasn't true. As far as Ventura goes, who knows?
It takes courage to have somebody new. I mean, why not? Why not?
If there's a downside to the numbers for Ventura, it's that a significant number
of people - 41 percent - say it's too soon to judge whether he's a breath of
fresh air or an embarrassment. The governor says it's gratifying the numbers
look as good as they do.
It's nice that via all the negative press that I've gotten since the last
polling results that people are seeing through that, and are looking at the
actual job I'm doing rather than negative press comments and sound bites and
this and that.
But the poll shows that nearly two-thirds of Minnnesotans think the press has
treated Ventura fairly or hasn't been critical enough, while just over a
quarter think the media have been too harsh on him. Carleton College political
scientist Steven Schier says the volume of press coverage Ventura has attracted -
both locally and nationally - feeds the impression that much of it is negative.
There's been more total press coverage of Jesse Ventura than we're used to
seeing in a new Minnesota governor, and that's going to mean more criticism,
because the total coverage is much more thorough. That probably helps to explain
why about 28 percent of the electorate is not happy with the way the media has
been covering him.
In his State of the State Address, Jesse Ventura declared the free ride is over,
and said government should do only that which people can't do for themselves.
The poll results are mixed on that philosophy. 61 percent say single parents
should take more responsibility for themselves and not look to the government
for help. But only 11 percent say Minnesota government spends too much to help
low- and middle-income families with child care. Poll respondent Curtis Cook of
Lakeville says he's undecided on Ventura's performance, but he thinks there is a
role for government in people's lives.
See the Ventura
page,a collection of stories about the Ventura
There are cases where people should do it on their own. This is true. But there
are also people here that need help. I have a daughter that was on welfare. She
was a single mother on welfare and she was given the opportunity to go to school
and she did, and she's now fully employed and off the welfare completely.
64 percent of those polled say personal watercraft are an annoyance and should
be restricted. The governor who fought new fees on personal watercraft because
he owns five Jet-Skis says he won't support any special restrictions on them.
If you start doing it to one particular watercraft, then you will certainly down
the line be seeing other special laws for other particular watercraft. And I
think that if you look at that poll, the majority of those people have probably
never been on one.
The poll of 628 registered voters has a margin of error of plus or minus 4
percentage points. It's a snapshot of public opinion from April 7th through the
Mike Mulcahy is Minnesota Public Radio's Political Editor. You can reach him at