In 2000 and 2004 Minnesota was one of the closest states in the country in the Presidential race, with John Kerry winning it by 3 points and Al Gore by only 2. But Barack Obama had a blow out win there in 2008 and if the state voted today 2012 would be more of the same- Obama has wide leads over all of the Republican candidates in the state, even former Governor Tim Pawlenty.
Obama is decently popular in Minnesota with 51% of voters approving of him to 44% who disapprove. He is incredibly polarizing as he is most places, but there are slightly more Republicans (6%) who approve of him than there are Democrats (4%) who disapprove. Combine that with the state's Democratic identification advantage and the fact that he breaks even with independents and it's a formula for polling over 50%.
Obama's approval spread is +7 but he leads the Republicans we tested against him by anywhere from 8 to 21 points. That's because Obama's strong early leads have less to do with him being popular than the GOP field being incredibly unpopular in Minnesota. Home state candidate Pawlenty has the 'best' favorability numbers but still comes down at a -13 spread (40/53). Next best is Herman Cain at -18 (17/35), then Mitt Romney at -24 (29/53), Michele Bachmann at -26 (33/59), Sarah Palin at -35 (30/65), and Newt Gingrich at -48 (17/65).
Why are the Republicans all so unpopular? There are two themes running through their numbers. They are all considerably more unpopular with Democrats than they are with GOP voters. That's something that will probably change at least a little bit once the party has a candidate and the base starts to unite around that person. The second theme is a bigger concern- these folks are all a big turn off to independent voters. Pawlenty has the best numbers with independent at a -6 spread, the nominal frontrunner at this point Romney has a -17 spread, and Palin who joins Romney near the top of the national GOP polling right now is at -34 with them. That's something Republicans will have to find a way to overcome.
Obama defeated McCain by 10 points in 2008 in Minnesota. Only Pawlenty improves on that performance, trailing by 8 points at 51-43. Romney trails by 15 points at 51-36, Gingrich is down 18 at 54-36, Palin has a 20 point deficit at 56-36, Bachmann is 21 points back in her home state at 56-35, and Cain starts 21 points behind as well at 51-30.
Over the last couple weeks PPP polls have found Obama in a strong position in the former swing states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa. His strength in those places should put him in a position to work to expand the electoral map again next year as he did in 2008.
Full results here