Feeling strangely icked out

Statewide poll reveals ill will toward Kennedy, Dubya

The POTUS recently came to town to raise money for U.S. Rep Mark Kennedy's bid for Mark Dayton's U.S. Senate seat. It may have cost $1,000 for a plate of chicken, beef or fish, and the appearance may have banked close to $1 million for Marky Mark's bid to do his best G-Dub impersonation in the Senate chambers.

But the event was notable for another reason: It paired the two politicians most unpopular with Minnesotans. At least that's what can be gleaned from a recent statewide poll conducted by St. Cloud State University.

The poll is somewhat unusual: It's wide-ranging and a little touchy-feely. Minnesotans are asked weigh in on everything from road repair to cell-phone use to which "direction," "right or wrong," the state is going. (Forty-six percent say everything in MN is okey-dokey.) And there are, of course, the standard-issue questions regarding the death penalty and Roe v. Wade.

(There's much scrolling to do--too much mehtodology is laid out awkwardly here.)

But it's the political findings that are the bad news for Kennedy and especially Bush. The Prez only gets a favorable rating from 33 percent of Minnesotans, and some 60 percent felt he could dealt poorly with Katrina.

But perhaps the mostr interesting aspect of the poll involves what's called the "thermometer"--the section where respondents are asked: "Please think of a thermometer that has a range of 0 to 100 degrees. I'd like you to rate your feelings toward some of our political leaders and other people who are in the news.

"Ratings on the thermometer between 50 and 100 degrees mean that you feel favorable and warm toward the person. Ratings between 0 and 50 mean that you do not feel too favorable toward the person."

Bringing up the bottom on the "thermometer" poll is the Prez, getting only a 44 percent. Just above him is Mark Kennedy, at 49 percent. Remember, people are usually inclined to give politicians the benefit of the doubt, even if they don't like their policies, as people. (That could explain why, for instance, Tim Pawlenty, a virtual hybrid of G-Dub and Marky Mark, still gets a 53.) It particularly represents a fall from grace for the President, who had peaked at 70 "degrees" in a 2001 poll.

The big "winner" in the thermometer sweepstakes is Kennedy's main opponent in this year's Senate race, Hennepin County Attorney Amy Klobuchar, who scores a 60 (edging out the ever-likable-in-a-wind-up-doll-kind-of-way Laura Bush by one "degree.")

Patty Wetterling, the chief rival to Klobuchar for the DFL nomination, rates at 55. Norm Coleman and Hilary Clinton, two totally plausible bedfellows, each rate at 50.

Of course, name recognition is everything in politics, and so these "degree" ratings can be misleading. For instance, 48 percent of respondents said they didn't know enough about Klobo-cop to have any feelings toward her. Wetterling, meanwhile, was only unknown by 17 percent of respondents.

Enough knew Kennedy, some 67 percent, to lend credence to results showing his unpopularity. And Pawlenty, Coleman, and Clinton were recognized by 90 percent of the respondents or more.

Which leaves us with the question of the President. Is he really that unpopular across the state? Well, if anything, his low numbers come from the broadest sampling--all but one percent of poll respondents offered an opinion on him.

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