KSTP/SurveyUSA poll: Walz expands lead over Jensen to double digits

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There could be many explanations for why Republican challenger Scott Jensen has fallen so far behind incumbent Democrat Gov. Tim Walz two months before Election Day, but Jensen’s initial position on abortion and the resulting millions of dollars of TV ads on the issue is likely the biggest factor.

According to our exclusive new KSTP/SurveyUSA poll, Walz leads Jensen by 18 points, 51% to 33%. In our May survey, Jensen trailed by just 5 points.

“The results of this current poll are nothing short of stunning,” says Carleton College political analyst Steven Schier, citing the barrage of TV ads criticizing Jensen about abortion and education funding as difficult for the Republican to overcome. “The Jensen campaign has no money for messaging compared to the Walz campaign and the Walz campaign allies.”

As of late July, Walz had 10 times more cash on hand than Jensen, nearly $5 million compared to just over $500,000 for Jensen. Plus, a special interest group supporting Walz, Alliance for a Better Minnesota, pledged millions to run TV ads attacking Jensen.

The Walz lead is commanding both geographically and demographically. Walz leads in every part of the state except the western side, where Jensen leads by 6 points, 48% to 42%. Walz leads 56% to 30% in the Twin Cities, 46% to 40% in southern Minnesota and 42% to 28% in northeastern Minnesota.

Walz also holds a commanding lead among women, 58% to 30%, and among men 46% to 36%.

“Jensen is well behind amongst women, and I think abortion messaging is part of that,” Schier says.

Respondents who cite abortion as their key issue support Walz 77% to 13%, perhaps because of the millions in TV ads attacking Jensen for initially saying he wanted to ban nearly all abortions in Minnesota, including in cases of rape and incest — a position he says he has since changed. Walz also leads among those who cite health care and crime as their key issues. Jensen leads on inflation, taxes and the economy.

Schier says if Jensen can’t raise the money to combat the negative messaging from the Walz side, it will be extremely difficult to compete.

“There aren’t groups that can come in with millions of dollars and message on his behalf and that’s a critical deficiency for him at this point,” Schier says.

The poll was conducted between Aug. 30 and Sept. 4 and includes 562 “likely voters” in the November 2022 elections. In the governor’s race, 35% identified as Republicans, 35% as Democrats and 26% as independents.

View the full survey results below.