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Poll: Ventura retains popularity
By Laura McCallum, Minnesota Public Radio
July 10, 2001

Gov. Ventura has emerged from a bruising legislative session with his approval ratings intact. In the first poll since a special session narrowly averted a government shutdown, Ventura's approval ratings have remained steady, and nearly half of those polled think he should run for a second term next year.

Ventura's popularity remains strong
Ventura's popularity rating is virtually unchanged, despite a bruising battle with the Legislature. See the complete poll.
IN A NEW MPR-PIONEER PRESS POLL of 627 Minnesota voters, 51 percent say Jesse Ventura is doing a good or excellent job as governor. Fifty-five percent consider him a breath of fresh air, while 38 percent consider him an embarrassment, numbers basically unchanged since the last MPR-Pioneer Press poll in February.

Poll respondent Homer Reese, a retired business owner who lives near Fosston, says he didn't vote for Ventura in 1998, but he would if Ventura runs again. "I just think he's done a good job. Who else would give us a rebate?" Reese told Minnesota Public Radio.

Forty-seven percent of those polled think Ventura should run for re-election. If he does, only 37 percent say they'd vote for him. But that could be enough to win a competitive three-way race, according to Craig Grau, associate professor of political science at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. "If that race was the same way as last time, I think the poll indicates he would basically get the same percentage. He won with 37 percent, and that's about what he gets," according to Grau.

The poll indicates a gender gap in Ventura's support; more men than women think Ventura should run for re-election and say they'll vote for him. Respondent Luella Cave of Rice says Ventura is doing a fair job as governor, and has lowered taxes in the state, but she feels that he sometimes insults people. "His mouth gets in gear before his brain, and he says things that he later on has to apologize for. I think sometimes he maybe should think about longer before he asks questions," she says.

Ventura says he thinks his outspoken personality is one of the reasons more men than women tend to support him. But he says he's surprised by the gender gap. "I'm the only person standing in the way of a woman's right to choose in this state. And yet I guess they don't appreciate that. Well, when I'm gone, someone else will be sitting here and they maybe won't have the right to choose then," Ventura says.

Ventura says he pays no more attention to polls than he does to the National Enquirer, and says this one will have no effect on whether he decides to run for re-election. But he says he is flattered by one question in the poll, which asks respondents to rate the contributions of 10 prominent Minnesota political figures. Ventura ranks fourth, behind former vice presidents Hubert Humphrey and Walter Mondale, and former governor Arne Carlson. Ventura is ahead of former governors Rudy Perpich and Al Quie - not bad for a relative political newcomer with only two-and-a-half years of statewide office under his belt.

"I came in with new and different ideas, with the Reform Party, which is not exactly the status quo, so the chances are I'm going to be a little more bold than a career politician will be," according to Ventura.

The poll, conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling and Research, has a margin of error of plus- or minus-four percentage points.