ST. PAUL (AP) -- For the second time in two weeks, a statewide poll shows fewer than half of Minnesotans giving Gov. Jesse Ventura good marks for his job performance.
Forty-six percent of the respondents to a poll published Monday in the St. Paul Pioneer Press said Ventura was doing an "excellent" or "pretty good" job. In a poll published Feb. 10 in the Star Tribune of Minneapolis, Ventura's job approval stood at 49 percent among all Minnesotans and 46 percent among likely voters.
In the Pioneer Press poll, which was conducted last week, a majority of those polled rated Ventura's job performance "only fair" or "poor." Thirty-five percent rated his performance fair, and 18 percent rated it poor.
The random telephone poll of 625 registered Minnesota voters was conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research Inc.
In October, the last time this poll was conducted, 54 percent of those polled said Ventura was doing a good or excellent job.
"Since October, we've found out we have a $2 billion deficit, and I do think that has an effect. I don't think it would matter who you had as governor," said Craig Grau, head of the political science department at the University of Minnesota-Duluth.
Ventura spokesman John Wodele said he's pleased with the poll numbers given the tough budget decisions Ventura has made recently.
"Those numbers are very, very good. In fact, they are excellent," he said.
More Minnesotans would vote for Ventura than for a candidate from the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party or the Republican Party if the election were held today, according to the poll. Ventura will not say whether he is running until after the legislative session.
"He is still the big dog on the mountain," said Brad Coker, managing director of Mason-Dixon Polling & Research Inc.
Thirty-one percent of people said they would vote for him if the election were held today. That's just 2 percentage points more than those who said they would vote for a Democrat, and 8 percentage points more than those who lean toward voting for a Republican.
The poll has a margin of error of 4 percentage points.
In answering a similar, though not identical, poll question in October, nearly 40 percent of respondents said they would vote for Ventura if the election were held then. Ventura won the three-way gubernatorial race in 1998 with 37 percent of the vote.
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