Updated: 05/29/2014 10:23 PM
Created: 05/29/2014 3:46 PM KSTP.com
By: Tom Hauser
Minnesota Republicans hope to capitalize on Sen. Al Franken's approval ratings, which generally linger below the 50 percent mark.
However, the GOP candidates have their own problem. More than 50 percent of Minnesota's registered voters can't identify them. That's according to new research conducted for KSTP-TV by Frank Magid Associates.
In online questionnaires with 1,621 Minnesota registered voters, 55 percent said they were "not familiar" with Julianne Ortman, a state Senator running for the U.S. Senate. The news is even worse for the other three leading GOP contenders. Businessman Mike McFadden, state Representative Jim Abeler and St. Louis County Commissioner Chris Dahlberg are "not familiar" to 61 percent of Minnesota voters.
"To have such a wide slate of Republican candidates who no one knows about is unusual and creates a steep uphill battle just to get your name out there," says Larry Jacobs of the University of Minnesota Humphrey Institute.
Jacobs reviewed the research, based on traditional survey questions along with responses from voters after they viewed video of the candidates talking about key issues.
Heading into the GOP convention on Friday, Julianne Ortman is considered the front runner for endorsement. However, McFadden has the most support to be the GOP nominee among the Republicans in our research. He's the first choice of 33 percent of registered Republican voters, followed by Ortman at 19 percent, Dahlberg at 14 percent and Abeler at 12 percent, with 18 percent undecided.
Our research also indicates incumbent Sen. Al Franken leads the four GOP contenders by between 14 and 18 percentage points. Ortman is the closest, trailing Franken 48 percent to 34 percent, with McFadden next closest. He trails Franken 50 percent to 34 percent.
This weekend the GOP convention will be held in Rochester. Reporter Jay Kolls will be in Duluth covering the DLF and reporter Tom Hauser will be in Rochester with the GOP.
Both parties will nominate their picks for governor, U.S. Senate and other state offices.