In 2016 Minnesota, along with Illinois, was one of the Democrat’s Midwestern “blue wall” states to hold while Michigan and Wisconsin flipped to the GOP. The trend however in the North Star State is decidedly in the GOP’s favor.
In 2016 Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump by 45,000 votes – the closest presidential race in the state since 1984 favorite son Mondale barely eked out a victory over Ronald Reagan. That year Minnesota was the only state in country to vote Democratic. Clinton’s close victory should not have been a surprise – exit polls put Minnesota at 37 percent to 35 percent in terms of Democratic/Republican affiliation, similar to the 36 percent to 33 percent split nationally.
From 2008 through the 2012 and then into the 2016 presidential elections, the actual number of votes and the percentage of votes received by the Democratic candidate declined. In 2008 Barack Obama received 1,573,454 votes compared to John McCain’s 1,275,409 – a difference of 298,045. In 2012 the gap between Obama and Mitt Romney narrowed to 225,942. Then in 2016 it was 44,765 between Clinton and Trump – a steady narrowing of the gap between the Democratic and Republican candidate. In 2008, of the 87 counties in Minnesota, Obama won 42. In 2012 Obama won 28, and in 2016 Clinton only won nine counties. In comparison, in the 2014 gubernatorial election, Dayton won 34 counties.
But 2018 still finds the Democrats will plenty of statewide office holders, though they will be defending those seats this year.
In a relatively rare event, both US Senate seats will be contested this year. Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar is seeking her third term while interim Senator Tina Smith is running for her party’s nomination to fill the remaining 2 years left in former Senator Al Franken’s term.
On the House side, most attention will be focused on the First Congressional District.
Incumbent Congressman Tim Walz is running the Democratic gubernatorial nomination. The district has a Cook PVI of +5 and was carried by President Trump 53-38 in 2016 while Barack Obama narrowly carried it in 2012. Walz’s himself won by less than 1% of the vote in 2016.
The district represents one of the relative handful of potential pickup opportunities, though the Øptimus forecasting model ranks the race as Leans Democratic due mostly to the overall political environment prior to the primaries.
At the statehouse, Governor Mark Dayton is retiring.
The three major Democratic candidates are State Representative Erin Murphy, Lieutenant Governor Lori Swanson, and Congressman Tim Walz.
On the GOP side, former Governor Tim Pawlenty and Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson are the leading contenders.
The candidates recently held an all-parties debate.
An added interesting race is for the Democratic nomination for Attorney General with Congressman Keith Ellison running against three others. Ellison is also Deputy Chairman of the Democratic National Committee.
Polls are open from 7am to 8pm central time.