ST. PAUL (AP) -- Gov. Jesse Ventura's popularity with Minnesotans has slipped to its lowest level since he took office, according to a poll published Thursday by the Star Tribune of Minneapolis.
Fifty-three percent of the 823 adults polled said they approved of the way Ventura is doing his job and 39 percent disapproved. The percentage of those who said they "disapprove strongly" of his job performance -- 28 percent -- is the highest since he took office in January 1999.
The poll was taken between Nov. 28 and Dec. 2 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.
It's been a challenging two months for Ventura, spokesman John Wodele acknowledged.
His troubles include a two-week state employees strike in October, a fight with school officials over funding levels, an escalation of his feud with the Minnesota news media, a trip to California to shoot movie scenes when the Minnesota Twins' demise appeared to be imminent and a well-publicized episode in which he removed his headphones in an angry response to a caller during a radio show.
This week came the announcement that the state was facing a nearly $2 billion budget shortfall.
The governor's highest approval rating, 73 percent in July 1999, came after his first legislative session that featured tax cuts and rebates.
In October 1999, the rating stood at 54 percent, shortly after an interview appeared in Playboy magazine in which he said that some organized religion was a crutch for weak-minded people and that he would like to be reincarnated as a brassiere.
Ventura's approval fell from 71 percent in January 2001 to 57 percent in April, remained about the same in mid-October -- 58 percent -- and has slipped 5 percentage points since then.
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