WASHINGTON – Just weeks before Election Day, former Vice President Joe Biden is leading President Donald Trump by seven points in the battleground state of Minnesota, according to a new USA TODAY/Suffolk University poll.
The poll released Friday shows 47% of likely voters support Biden, while 40% support Trump in a state that has been reliably held by Democrats since 1972 but where the president is hoping to compete. Another 6% of respondents were undecided.
Minnesotans chose Hillary Clinton for president in 2016 by a 1.5% margin over Trump, who has campaigned several times this cycle in the Gopher State. Both Trump and Biden have taken their campaigns there to battle for working-class voters as early voting began earlier this month.
Likely voters have a more favorable view of Biden, according to the poll. Forty-seven percent said they view Biden favorably, while 42% view him unfavorably. That's compared to Trump, who is underwater and viewed favorably by 41% and unfavorably by 53% of respondents.
The USA TODAY/Suffolk poll surveyed a total of 500 likely voters via cell phone and landlines between Sept. 20 and Sept. 24. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.
Top issues for Minnesotans include uniting the country (26%), the economy and jobs (16%) and the coronavirus pandemic (13%).
Battle for the middle class: Why Biden and Trump are both headed to Minnesota
Trump holds an approval rating of 42% among likely Minnesota voters. Another 50% disapprove of the way he is performing his job as president. Most voters (57%) said the country is headed in the wrong direction compared to those who said the country is on the right track (30%), with disagreement among Democrats (89% wrong direction, 4% right direction) and Republicans (62% right direction, 24% wrong direction).
As the pandemic has caused thousands of voters to look toward absentee and mail-in voting options, 51% of likely voters in Minnesota said they still plan to vote in person on Election Day, and 14% said they will vote in person ahead of time. Thirty-two percent said they will utilize a mail-in or absentee voting option.
Respondents were split on whether they are concerned about the possibility that widespread mail-in voting will lead to fraud, a claim the president has made repeatedly despite evidence that shows fraud cases are an extreme rarity. Still, 51% of Minnesotans said they are very or somewhat concerned about mail-in voting leading to fraud, and 49% said they are not very or not at all concerned.
One hot-button issue dividing the electorate is who should pick the next Supreme Court justice to fill the seat of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Trump is set to announce his nominee on Saturday, and Republicans in the Senate have vowed to conduct a swift confirmation process. Democrats have little chance of stopping a nominee from going through before the inauguration.
More likely voters in Minnesota oppose the Senate voting on a nominee before the end of Trump's first term: 49% said the Senate should not vote and 43% said it should. Twenty-five percent of respondents said Trump nominating a new justice makes them more enthusiastic about their choice for president in the election, but the majority 52% said it makes no difference; 16% said it makes them less enthusiastic.
In the state where months of nationwide protests over police brutality and racism began this year, 28% said the demonstrations this summer have impacted their vote, while 71% said they had not.
The death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man who died after having his neck pinned down by a Minneapolis police officer for nearly nine minutes in May, sparked protests in dozens of cities, including both peaceful protests and violent altercations with police. One police precinct in Minneapolis was burned down, while several businesses were looted.
Nineteen percent of poll respondents said they took part in some form of protesting over the summer, with 11% participating in person and 8% virtually. But the vast majority (81%) said they did not participate.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: USA TODAY/Suffolk poll: Joe Biden leads Donald Trump in Minnesota