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Poll Shows Playboy Interview Cost Ventura
By Bill Wareham
October 8, 1999
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Polling done this week by Minnesota Public Radio and the St. Paul Pioneer Press supports the notion that Governor Jesse Ventura's popularity has taken a hit in the wake of his Playboy magazine interview.

See the full results of the poll.
AFTER HOLDING STEADY in MPR/Pioneer press polls during the spring and summer, Ventura's approval rating dropped to 43 percent following publication of his interview with Playboy magazine last week. Even more dramatically, the percentage of respondents who consider the frank-talking governor a breath of fresh air dropped from 49 percent in July to 30 percent this week. And the percentage who consider Ventura an embarrassment climbed from 16 percent to 43 percent in the same period. Ed Newman is a retired publisher from Duluth, and one of those who was surveyed.
Newman: He's making us all look like buffoons. With everything he's doing he's degrading the office of the governor with everything he does.
Newman was part of a small minority shortly after the election. Most Minnesotans said they wanted to give their new unconventional governor a chance before forming an opinion. But events like Ventura's participation in a professional-wrestling event and his remarks to Playboy seem to have taken a toll on his popularity. His comments on religion may have been the most damaging. Eighty-six percent of respondents said they disagreed with Ventura's view that organized religion "is a sham and a crutch for weak-minded people who need strength in numbers." Ruth Parker, a retired farmer from the Owatonna area, says she had high hopes for Ventura.
Parker: Well, I thought he was more vocal, and said things I kind of believed in, but now I don't think so anymore. Parker blames the governor's ego for his problems, and rejects Ventura's notion that he's the victim of a media feeding frenzy.
Parker: I think he has brought on all the criticism himself. I don't think they're treating him any different than they did anybody else in office, really. In fact, I think he gets treated a little bit better because I think everybody's afraid of him.
Poll respondents generally agreed with Parker. Fifty-nine percent said he has been treated fairly. Twenty-two percent said coverage has been too harsh, while 17 percent said the media haven't been critical.

Steve Doom, a construction contractor from Marshall, remains supportive of Ventura.
Doom: I think he's done as well as anybody else has, and the fact that he shoots off his mouth once in awhile doesn't bother me; at least we know what he's thinking.
Ventura and chief spokesman John Wodele were in New York on Thursday for national media interviews. Wodele says the governor isn't overly concerned by the poll numbers.
Wodele: Anytime you drop in polls it's a concern, but keep in mind the governor doesn't govern by polls. He will do what he's going to do and make decisions based on doing the right thing and not the most popular thing.
Chris Gilbert, a Gustavus Adolphus political-science professor, says the dip in approval will hurt Ventura as he tries to get his agenda passed at the Capitol, especially his proposal for a one-house legislature.
Gilbert: I don't think there's a complete separation between how people feel about the governor and the governor's ability to persuade the Legislature to do important things. I think the unicameral legislature is the most important issue. It seems likely to me the state Senate in particular, controlled by the DFL, is going to squash the unicameral. It's never going to get to voters.
The MPR - Pioneer Press poll was conducted Tuesday and Wednesday. Pollsters contacted 608 residents who say they vote in state elections. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus four percentage points.