Minnesota Voting History - History

Minnesota Voting History - History

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186034,804Abraham Lincoln22,06963.4Stephen Douglas11,92034.2
186442,433Abraham Lincoln25,03159George McClelan17,37640.9
186871,620Ulysses Grant43,54560.8Horatio Seymour28,07539.2
187291,339Ulysses Grant56,04061.4Horace Greeley35,13138.5
1876124,160Rutherford Hayes72,96258.8Samuel Tilden48,79939.3
1880150,806James Garfield93,93962.3Winfield Scott53,31435.4
1884186,434Grover Cleveland70,06537.6James Blaine111,68559.9
1888263,162Benjamin Harrison142,49254.1Grover Cleveland104,37239.7
1892267,841Grover Cleveland100,58937.6Benjamin Harrison122,73645.8
1896341,762William McKinley193,50356.6William Bryant139,73540.9
1900316,311William McKinley190,46160.2William Bryant112,90135.7
1904292,860Theo. Roosevelt216,65174Alton Parker55,18718.8
1908330,254William Taft195,84359.3William Bryant109,40133.1
1912334,219Woodrow Wilson106,42631.8Theo. Roosevelt125,85637.7
1916387,367Woodrow Wilson179,15546.2Charles Hughes179,54446.3
1920735,838Warren Harding519,42170.6James Cox142,99419.4
1924822,146Calvin Coolidge420,75951.2John Davis55,9136.8
1928970,976Herbert Hoover560,97757.8Alfred Smith396,45140.8
1932970,976Franklin Roosevelt560,97757.8Herbert Hoover396,45140.8
19361,129,975Franklin Roosevelt698,81161.8Alfred Landon350,46131
19401,251,188Franklin Roosevelt644,19651.5Wendell Will596,27447.7
19441,125,504Franklin Roosevelt589,86452.4Thomas Dewey527,41646.9
19481,212,226Harry Truman692,96657.2Thomas Dewey483,61739.9
19521,379,483Dwight Eisenhower763,21155.3Adlai Stevenson608,45844.1
19561,340,005Dwight Eisenhower719,30253.7Adlai Stevenson617,52546.1
19601,541,887John F Kennedy779,93350.6Richard Nixon757,91549.2
19641,554,462Lyndon Johnson991,11763.8Barry Goldwater559,62436
19681,588,506Richard Nixon658,64341.5Hubert Humphrey857,73854
19721,741,652Richard Nixon898,26951.6George McGovern802,34646.1
19761,949,931Jimmy Carter1,070,44054.9Gerald Ford819,39542
19802,051,980Ronald Reagan873,26842.6Jimmy Carter954,17446.5
19842,084,449Ronald Reagan1,032,60349.5Walter Mondale1,036,36449.7
19882,096,790George Bush962,33745.9Michael Dukais1,109,47152.9
19922,347,948Bill Clinton1,020,99743.5George Bush747,84131.9
19962,101,132William Clint1,096,32052.18Bob Dole751,86035.78%
20002,438,685George W Bush1,109,65945.5Al Gore1,168,26647.9
20042,828,387George W Bush1,346,69547.6John Kerry1,445,01451.1
20082,888,089Barack Obama1,573,35454.5%John McCain1,275,40944.2%

Since before its statehood, Minnesota has cultivated a strong yet complicated Civil Rights legacy. On November 9 and 10, Vice President Walter Mondale and Congressman Keith Ellison will join U of M Law School professor Myron Orfield and labor, political, and faith leaders for The Summit for Civil Rights at the U. The goal? To assemble a new political coalition for ending segregation. This is how we got here.

Third party people: Minnesotans’ proud history of voting for minor-party candidates

No, Libertarian Gary Johnson isn’t going to win Minnesota. But if history is a guide, he may do better here than in other states.

One of the questions du jour for Minnesotans who dislike this year’s historically unpopular major party presidential candidates is whether or not to vote for one of the many third party contenders on November’s ballot.

There are lots of options: Libertarian Gary Johnson, the former governor of New Mexico, and the Green Party’s Jill Stein, who have both made previous runs, and late-to-the-game Evan McMullin, endorsed by Minnesota’s Independence Party, who announced his candidacy in August and isn’t on the ballot in every U.S. state. The American Delta Party has a candidate. So do the Socialist Workers Party and the Constitution Party. Even the Legal Marijuana Now Party has put up a candidate for president.

Will any of these candidates be elected? Probably not. Will any of them win Minnesota, or get even one electoral vote? Unlikely. Are they a waste of a vote? Depends on how you look at it.

Stronger support in Minnesota

Third party presidential candidates have done better in Minnesota than they have in the U.S. on the whole in recent years. The most vote-getting third party presidential contenders in every presidential election since 1992 have received a higher share of votes here than they have nationally.

In 1992 and 1996, there was H. Ross Perot, the twangy Texarkana tech billionaire who ran on an economic populist message. He got nearly 24 percent of votes in Minnesota in 1992 — a sizable enough share that if Perot voters had instead voted for George H.W. Bush, he might have won the state, rather than Bill Clinton — compared to 18.9 percent nationally. He got a smaller share of votes in 1996, but he still did better in Minnesota than he did overall in the U.S.

Green Party candidate Ralph Nader, who ran 2000, 2004 and 2008, also won a larger percentage of votes in Minnesota than he did nationwide. When Johnson, the Libertarian presidential candidate on the ballot this year, ran in 2012, however, he won just under 1 percent of the popular vote nationwide and 1.2 percent of Minnesotans’ votes.

This year, the polls put Johnson at 5.6 percent of the vote nationally and just a hair higher, 6 percent, in Minnesota, according to FiveThirtyEight. The website, which uses statistical analysis to predict electoral outcomes, hasn’t published predictions for Stein in Minnesota, though three polls conducted in September and October put her at 2 percent or less of the Minnesota vote. RealClearPolitics’ average of national polls has Stein at 1.7 percent.

Carleton College political science professor Steven Schier predicts that this year, Johnson, who may peel votes from Donald Trump, and Stein, who may do well with Minnesota’s Bernie Sanders contingent, will exceed their national averages here.

While Minnesota isn’t the only state where voters have voted third party at higher rates than the national average since since the 1990s (the others are Alaska, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Utah and Vermont), Schier thinks third party candidates have been able to get a larger share of Minnesota votes than the U.S., on average, for a few reasons. One is that Minnesota’s population is, on average, highly educated, and voters may be more aware of third party options here than they are in other states.

Third party history

There’s also a legacy of third party successes here. For what it’s worth, the Minnesota Farmer-Labor Party, an unlikely union of urban laborers and rural farmers founded in 1918 is remembered as one of the most successful third party movements in American history. In the 1930s and ‘40s, the party managed to elect a legislative majority in the Minnesota statehouse, three governors, U.S. senators and members of Congress. It was absorbed by the Democratic Party — making the DFL — in the mid-’40s.

That’s ancient history at this point, but more recently, the Reform Party’s (now the Independence Party) Jesse Ventura was elected with a plurality of votes in 1998. Tim Penny and Tom Horner, who both ran for governor on the Independence Party ticket in 2002 and 2010, respectively, got 16 percent and 12 percent of votes. Around that time, the Independence Party had a couple sitting state legislators and an appointed congressman.

All of this isn’t to say third party presidential candidates always do well in Minnesota: in 1988, Libertarian Ron Paul got about 0.24 percent of the popular vote, compared to 0.47 percent nationwide. In 1984, David Bergland, also a Libertarian, got 0.14 percent of the vote in Minnesota, compared to 0.25 percent nationwide. And in 1968, more than 13 percent of Americans voted for “firebrand segregationist” George Wallace, who ran as an Independent, while just 4 percent of Minnesotans did.

Why vote third party

So who are these third party voters?

Political independence is a social norm — people like the idea of it. But when it comes down to it, there are really very few minor party voters, said Marjorie Hershey, a political science professor at Indiana University, and the author of “Party Politics in America,” which is standard issue in many political science courses.

“When you ask people in a poll, ‘Do you think there should be more choices and more parties,’ the majority of people will say yes,” she said. “But when you look at their behavior in elections, we find that minor parties get really small amounts of support.”

In some cases, their choice to vote for a third party candidate has to do with ideology, said Geoffrey Peterson, the chair of the political science department at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

“Obviously, you’ve got the ideological voters. They’re hardcore Libertarians or Greens or Communists or Marxists or whatever. They vote that way because there’s an ideological component to it,” he said. “People who are sort of a combination of distrustul of the motives of government, and also feel like government doesn’t pay attention to them.”

But most of the time, it’s a protest vote, Hershey said.

“Typically, it’s when the two parties just seem to a particular individual as not speaking to them, as not answering the kinds of questions that are important to them,” Hershey said.

Perot, who ran for president in both 1992 and 1996, is a good example of that, Schier said.

“Republicans were upset with (George H.W.) Bush, and (Bill) Clinton had a number of problems as a candidate,” he said. “Perot was saying ‘A curse on all their houses,’ and there were a number of Minnesotans who were sympathetic to that message.”

More evidence that third party voters tend to be motivated by spite? People who vote for one minor party candidate are more likely to vote for another — even if the views of the second party are nothing like the first’s, Hershey said.

Party planks and major party status

As things stand now in Minnesota, Trump is far enough behind that any conservatives who peel off into Johnson and McMullin’s camps are unlikely to affect the election’s outcome, Schier said. Meanwhile, the appearance of a comfortable lead for Clinton in Minnesota could cause liberals to peel off into the Stein camp, but not in high enough numbers to ruin the Democratic nominee’s chances.

But winning isn’t everything. One way minor parties can gain a foothold in public policy is by gaining major party status. The requirements for doing so vary by state, but in Minnesota, major party status is granted if a candidate for statewide office gets 5 percent or more of the vote.

With that comes automatic access to the ballot and eligibility for public funding of campaigns, among other benefits. Major party status sticks around for two general elections before a party again needs to meet major party qualification requirements.

Currently, the only two major parties in Minnesota are the Republican and Democratic ones. The Independence Party held onto major party status for 20 years until 2014, and the Green Party had it for a while after Ralph Nader ran in 2000. But if Johnson’s polling numbers hold up through the election, the Libertarian Party could win major party status in Minnesota.

The problem with that is, minor parties have rarely used it to their benefit by building a party apparatus in the states, Hershey said: Rarely do you see Libertarians running for county surveyor or council.

Perhaps the most long-lasting legacy of third parties is in bringing public attention to issues that the major parties aren’t focused on, Peterson said.

“If we go back to Perot, neither Bush nor Clinton had put forward a plan to balance the budget effectively until Perot came along, and then suddenly both Bush and Clinton had plans to balance the budget,” he said.

Another example: The Democratic Party of the 1920s wasn’t particularly progressive, Hershey said. But after the stock market crashed in 1929, plummeting the country into the Great Depression, parts of the Socialist Party’s platform became ripe for picking by New Deal Democrats, including child labor laws and minimum wage.

As Election Nears MNHS Shares New Voting History Resources

The Fall 2020 issue of “Minnesota History” magazine is devoted to Minnesota and woman suffrage, and shares many new perspectives while presenting the passage of the 19th Amendment from a Midwestern viewpoint. The issue explores how race, ethnicity, class, gender, and geography influenced Minnesota’s movement and reveals how Minnesota’s woman suffrage story reflects and diverges from the national story.

  • the political machinations of Governor Horace Austin who illegally killed the first female suffrage bill to pass both houses of the state legislature in 1870
  • how in Minnesota’s rural areas, women of diverse European ethnicity tapped vibrant social and religious networks to help mobilize for the vote
  • and Nellie Griswold Francis who realized that the best way to fight for civil rights was by expanding the vote among African Americans.

The issue is available now and can be purchased for $12 or the articles can be downloaded online for free. Reporters can view the entire magazine as a PDF.

The Fall 2020 issue of “Minnesota History” magazine is offered in conjunction with “Votes for Women,” an online exhibit developed in partnership with the League of Women Voters Minnesota, that shares the stories of more than 40 Minnesota women whose commitment to civic responsibility can inspire us to participate more fully in the democratic process.

MNHS encourages reporters to use these resources to help provide context for today’s stories.

The special double issue of “Minnesota History” magazine is made possible in part by the Legacy Amendment's Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund through the vote of Minnesotans on Nov. 4, 2008. The Legacy Amendment supports efforts to preserve Minnesota land, water and legacy, including Minnesota history and cultural heritage.

About the Minnesota Historical Society
The Minnesota Historical Society is a nonprofit educational and cultural institution established in 1849. MNHS collects, preserves and tells the story of Minnesota’s past through museum exhibits, libraries and collections, historic sites, educational programs and publishing. Using the power of history to transform lives, MNHS preserves our past, shares our state’s stories and connects people with history. Visit us at mnhs.org.

The Minnesota Historical Society is supported in part by Premier Partner Explore Minnesota Tourism.

Minnesota Voting History - History

Elections Phone Numbers:
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Public service counters at the office are currently closed. Please call or email for any services.
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Safe At Home Mailing Address:
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Metro Area: 651-296-2803 (9 a.m. to 4 p.m.)
Greater MN: 1-877-551-6767 (9 a.m. to 4 p.m.)
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Public service counters at the office are currently closed. Please call or email for any services.
Metro Area: 651-296-2803 (9 a.m. to 4 p.m.)
Greater MN: 1-877-551-6767 (9 a.m. to 4 p.m.)
MN Relay Service: 711

Business Services Address:
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Minnesota Voting History - History

Elections Phone Numbers:
Metro Area: 651-215-1440
Greater MN: 1-877-600-VOTE (8683)
MN Relay Service: 711

Public service counters at the office are currently closed. Please call or email for any services.
Metro Area: 651-215-1440
Greater MN: 1-877-600-VOTE (8683)
MN Relay Service: 711

Elections & Administration Address:
Get Directions
180 State Office Building
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Saint Paul, MN 55155

Safe At Home:

Safe At Home Phone Numbers:
Minnesota’s address confidentiality program Metro Area: 651-201-1399
Greater MN: 1-866-723-3035
MN Relay Service: 711

Phone Hours: 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Safe At Home Mailing Address:
PO Box 17370
Saint Paul, MN 55117-0370

Business Services:

Business, Lien & Notary Information Phone Line:
Metro Area: 651-296-2803 (9 a.m. to 4 p.m.)
Greater MN: 1-877-551-6767 (9 a.m. to 4 p.m.)
MN Relay Service: 711

Public service counters at the office are currently closed. Please call or email for any services.
Metro Area: 651-296-2803 (9 a.m. to 4 p.m.)
Greater MN: 1-877-551-6767 (9 a.m. to 4 p.m.)
MN Relay Service: 711

Business Services Address:
Get Directions
Retirement Systems of Minnesota Building
60 Empire Dr., Suite 100
Saint Paul, MN 55103

A Brief History of Minnesota Presidential Primaries

On Tuesday, Minnesota will be one of several states on which the nation’s eyes will be fixed – with both the Republican and Democratic presidential caucuses expected to be competitive.

For the sixth consecutive cycle Minnesota will not hold a presidential primary – the method by which a majority of states have tied the selection of delegates to national party conventions since the 1970s.

In the 2016 cycle, states from all four regions of the country hold caucuses for at least one of its two major parties, although the vast majority are located in the Midwest (Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, North Dakota, Nebraska) and West (Alaska, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, Utah, Washington, Wyoming). Maine is the lone state in the northeast to still use caucuses and Kentucky Republicans are doing so in the South this cycle as well.

Minnesota’s history with the presidential primary has been a particularly unusual one – coming and going every three to four decades.

The Gopher State was at the forefront of codifying primaries into its state laws. A 1901 law established primaries for a variety of non-statewide offices such as seats in the U.S. House and the state legislature beginning in 1902.

Primaries for statewide offices did not come into play for another decade in 1912.

That cycle also saw the first wave of presidential primaries in 13 states including several in the Midwest – Illinois, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.

Minnesota quickly followed suit and established a presidential primary for the first time in 1913 (to be held on the second Tuesday in March) joining three other Midwestern states holding their debut primaries in the 1916 cycle: Indiana, Iowa, and Michigan.

In the March 14th primary, Woodrow Wilson ran unopposed on the Democratic side and former Iowa Governor Albert Cummins was victorious in a three-candidate GOP field with 76.8 percent of the vote against orator Henry Estabrook and Illinois attorney and politician William Webster.

However, in March 1917, as the progressive fervor that had inspired the passage of many primary laws across the nation began to wane, Minnesota repealed its primary law after just one cycle (Iowa did likewise).

Even so, the Republican Party of Minnesota decided to hold a primary on its own in the 1920 cycle with six candidates competing in the race: U.S. Army Major General Leonard Wood, California progressive U.S. Senator Hiram Johnson, American Relief Commission Chair Herbert Hoover, Illinois Governor Frank Lowden, Washington U.S. Senator Miles Poindexter, and Ohio U.S. Senator Warren Harding.

The March 15th primary was rife with controversy with polls only open for an hour and inadequate announcements of polling station locations. Senator Johnson was critical of the process, claiming it had “disenfranchised farmers.”

Wood – one of the frontrunners that cycle – won the primary with Johnson a distant second followed by Hoover and Lowden.

That would be the last presidential primary held in the state through the 1940s.

However, in 1949, the GOP-controlled Minnesota legislature resurrected the primary in order to bolster the national prospects of former Governor Harold Stassen.

Stassen had previously won presidential primaries in 1944 (Nebraska) and 1948 (Nebraska, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Wisconsin) and placed third in the 1948 convention balloting behind New York Governor Thomas Dewey and Ohio U.S. Senator Robert Taft.

The 1949 law was written to allow candidates to file to appear on the ballot, as well as permit a party member to submit the name of a candidate with petitions of at least 100 voters from each congressional district.

Even more interesting, however, was the law’s controversial provision that any candidate who was thusly ‘drafted’ and did not wish to appear on the ballot had to sign an affidavit stating he would not accept his party’s nomination that cycle if it were offered.

At this time war heroes Douglas MacArthur and Dwight Eisenhower were rumored presidential candidates and, should they be drafted onto the Minnesota ballot, they would be forced into one of two potentially unattractive positions: suffer a (likely) loss to the favorite son Stassen or unequivocally take themselves out of the race (thus making the national pathway easier for Stassen).

A draft MacArthur effort landed him on the ballot, at which point the general asked his name be withdrawn.

Although MacArthur did not sign the aforementioned pledge, ultimately this portion of the primary law was struck down by former Minnesota Republican Attorney General (and former Governor) J.A.A. Burnquist.

A MacArthur state chair named Edward Slettedahl subsequently filed to run in the general’s place.

Petitions were also filed for Eisenhower whose name was also subsequently removed – with some believing party loyalists backing Stassen were behind that maneuver.

However, Stassen’s candidacy was ultimately a ‘stalking horse’ for Eisenhower with the former governor securing delegates for the NATO Supreme Commander who was unable to campaign in the states. (Stassen’s 19 delegates from Minnesota put Eisenhower over the top at that summer’s RNC to defeat Senator Taft after the first ballot).

In the end, Stassen won 44.2 percent of the vote in the Minnesota primary and a vigorous write-in campaign for Eisenhower – driven in part by a misunderstanding among the GOP electorate as to the motives of Stassen’s campaign – landed him at a close second with 37.1 percent. Eisenhower even placed first in two congressional districts.

Stassen’s plurality win in the face of the strong write-in campaign for Eisenhower weakened the former governor’s candidacy in the primary states that followed which created a worst case scenario for the Stassen/Eisenhower alliance: victories by Senator Taft two weeks later in both Nebraska and Wisconsin and three weeks later in Illinois.

All told, the plan hatched by the state GOP in 1949 in devising the primary law to boost the influence of Stassen produced many more headaches and unintended consequences than they ever could have imagined.

There was much less drama on the DFL side of the 1952 primary ballot where favorite son U.S. Senator Hubert Humphrey won with 80 percent of the vote.

However, with Eisenhower running unopposed for reelection four years later, all the primary drama in Minnesota in 1956 was with the Democrats.

The party establishment candidate that cycle was Adlai Stevenson who lost handily to Eisenhower in the 1952 general election. Senator Humphrey had hoped to be Stevenson’s vice-presidential running mate.

Tennessee U.S. Senator Estes Kefauver had challenged Stevenson in 1952 and won 12 primaries.

Kefauver was up for another White House bid in 1956 and had the support of some leaders from greater Minnesota, such as freshman U.S. Representative Coya Knutson – the first female elected to Congress from the Gopher State.

Stevenson was the early favorite to win the March 20th primary, but Kefauver surged to win by 13 points – a humiliating defeat for him, Humphrey, and the DFL.

Stevenson ultimately won the nomination, but as a result of these two back-to-back embarrassing experiments in presidential primaries, DFL and GOP lawmakers agreed to repeal the primary law in 1957.

For the next eight cycles, Minnesota returned to caucusing until a 1989 law established a presidential primary to be held on the fourth Tuesday in February.

Attempts were made in the state legislature to derail the primary before the 1992 contest, but it had a champion in Republican Governor Arne Carlson who defended the primary for turning out more voters than the caucuses.

In 1992, both parties continued to hold caucuses and only the Republican primary was binding in the delegate count.

On the DFL side, the presidential preference vote was a beauty contest in which Bill Clinton edged California Governor Jerry Brown by a shade over 1,000 votes.

The Republican primary saw incumbent George H.W. Bush cruise to a 39.7-point win over Pat Buchanan with former Governor Stassen placing fourth in one of his last presidential bids – just behind uncommitted – at 3.1 percent.

Critics prevailed in 1995, citing the high costs of holding the April primary, and the primary was subsequently suspended for the 1996 cycle. That decision became solidified in 1999 when the primary law was officially repealed for the third time in state history.

Unsuccessful efforts have been made by legislators over the last decade to restore the primary to Minnesota with some attempting to bring the state into a “Midwest primary” day.

Until then, Minnesotans will be joining their neighbors to the south (Iowa) and west (North Dakota) and caucusing for at least one more cycle.


1. I suppose AR does qualify as a state of the “West” – not unlike CO, WY, and UT, it is located west of the River Mississippi! (paragraph 4)
2. My surmise is that the Bluegrass State will revert back to holding a primary contest in future cycles – states of the Southern section are generally averse to holding precinct caucuses, and Senator McConnell is highly unlikely to try for both federal offices in 2020!
3. Whatever the merits of the caucuses, it does seem distinctive and refreshing that a number of states are sticking (again) with them – just as a score of them are rejecting imposed term limits on state-level offices (ND, et.al).

RE: #2. Yes, I wonder what the KY GOP now thinks about having to hold these presidential caucuses with Rand Paul out of the running. RE: #1: Ah, “Alaska!” Corrected above.

Kefauver won 14 primaries in 1952, and did not drop out before the convention. He led on the first ballot, but Stevenson won on the third. Minnesota was the only primary he did not contest, because he was a close confidant of Humphrey’s

Correct – it was 1956 when Kefauver ran out of money and dropped out before the convention. In 1952, I count Kefauver as winning a dozen state primaries: New Hampshire, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Illinois, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Maryland, Ohio, Oregon, California, and South Dakota. On the 1st ballot at the DNC he also had a plurality or majority of state delegates from Michigan, Tennessee, Washington, and the Alaska territory.

The 1956 primary was held on March 20 not March 15. Was the 1992 primary supposed to be the 4th week in February when and why the decision made to move it to April 7? Thanks

Oh my goodness! an incredible article dude. Thanks Nevertheless SB Com I am experiencing situation with ur rss . Don’t know why Unable to subscribe to it. Is there anybody getting similar rss problem? Anybody who knows kindly respond. Thnkx

Minnesota, a blue state for decades, could still be a battleground in 2020 election

A solidly blue state for the past half century, Minnesota has become an unquestioned presidential battleground after a narrowing margin that nearly saw the state turn red four years ago.

MINNEAPOLIS - Minnesota hasn’t gone red since it elected Richard Nixon in 1972 and a Republican hasn’t won a single statewide election since 2006, yet political experts say the North Star State’s blue streak could be coming to an end.

Minnesotans have voted blue for the past 11 presidential elections, and polls currently favor Joe Biden by more than nine points as of Oct. 6, but David Schultz, a professor of political science at Hamline University in Saint Paul, says there are various characteristics that could make a state like Minnesota swing.

Minnesota’s Democratic exodus

One factor, Schultz says, is the gap that has increasingly narrowed between populations that considers themselves Democrat and Republican. 

𠇏orty or 50 years ago, a lot of people think of Minnesota as the state of Walter Mondale or the state of Hubert Humphrey, Eugene McCarthy or Paul Wellstone, even. I mean the party I.D. among the citizens clearly favored the Democrats,” Schultz said. 

He says that gap has since narrowed to just a few points. 

The shift was evident in 2016 when Hillary Clinton nearly lost the state, winning by just 1.5 percentage points, or just over 44,000 votes.  

Minnesota's most recent voting history.

Another factor is Minnesota’s high population of “White working-class individuals without college a education,” Schultz said. 

“Yes, Minneapolis-St. Paul, is very highly educated. It’s the home to the University of Minnesota and many other colleges, but once you get out of the Minneapolis-St. Paul bubble, we have this very traditional working-class population,” Schultz said.  

Schultz refers to an area known as the “Iron Range,” which experts say could help deliver the battleground state’s 10 Electoral College votes to President Donald Trump. 

Once a reliably blue region, the rural mining districts around Lake Superior were a Trump stronghold in 2016. The “Iron Range” fuels much of the United States&apos steel production and has benefited from the president&aposs trade policies.

The region&aposs seat in the U.S. House was one of the only ones to flip from Democratic to Republican control in 2018.

Which, Schultz says, is arguably the most critical reason why Democrats should be taking things seriously this election: a crucial split between a seemingly thriving Democratic Party. 

“Minnesota is the only state in the country where the official name of the Democratic Party is called the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party,” said Schultz. 

Schultz explained that in 1944, Herbert Humphrey, who would later go on to be vice president under President Lyndon B. Johnson, brought the Democratic Party and Farmer-Labor Party together under one coalition. 

“In its [the ‘Iron Range’] heyday, it, like many other mining areas, working class areas, were strongly Democratic as we know across the country, and they [working class voters] saw their jobs disappear and they gradually, because of social issues, because of loss of jobs, because of the sort of urban-rural split, have moved also into the Republican camp,” Schultz said.

Schultz said that a divide between Democrats over the direction of the party has contributed to the narrow gap that could play a role in a potential Trump victory in Minnesota in 2020. 

Pro-environment and anti-gun positions within the Democratic Party in urban areas of the state have increasingly alienated some traditionally left-to-center Democratic White rural voters in the state’s mining and agricultural regions, Schultz said. 

The suburban vote

Both Biden and Trump have steered clear of the state’s most populated areas near Minneapolis to focus on blue-collar voters, some of whom shifted to Republicans for the first time in 2016. In September, Trump rallied in Bemidji, about 200 miles north of Minneapolis, while Biden campaigned in a suburb of Duluth, on the banks of Lake Superior, close to the Wisconsin border.

Trump has predicted victory in Minnesota in November despite the state’s long history of backing Democratic candidates. 

Since narrowly losing Minnesota in 2016, Trump has increased his campaign’s focus on the state.

His message of “law and order” has been aimed nationally at White suburban and rural voters who may be concerned by protests that have sometimes become violent. That’s especially true in Minnesota, where the May killing of George Floyd by a police officer sparked a national reckoning on racism and police brutality.

In another show of the importance Trump has attached to winning Minnesota, Vice President Mike Pence, accompanied by presidential daughter Ivanka Trump, appeared at a 𠇌ops for Trump” event in Minneapolis last month and made an unannounced stop at a hair salon left in rubble by violence that followed Floyd’s death. The events were aimed at driving home the president’s law-and-order message.

Trump is working to reverse a 2018 blue wave in which Democrats flipped two suburban congressional districts, took back control of the state House by winning suburban Trump-voting areas and came within one seat of winning control of the state Senate. Democrats won every statewide race that year, even as they lost a rural congressional district.

Schultz argued that Trump’s message to suburban residents — that they won’t be safe in “Joe Biden’s America” — has appeared to be somewhat successful following the ongoing protests that were sparked in Minnesota’s capital.  

Schultz said following the riots that occurred after Floyd’s death, polls narrowed in the state. 

“There were suburban voters who were concerned about the fact that, I think they don’t like the racism, they don’t like what happened to George Floyd, but were scared about the fact that, is this looting, the burning going to move to the suburbs?” Schultz said.

FILE - Demonstrators stand around a fire during a protest near the White House in response to the killing of George Floyd May 31, 2020 in Washington, DC. Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was fired then arrested for Floyd's death and is

But Trump’s message to suburban voters still doesn’t seem to be enough to catch up to Biden in the state. 

Trump’s campaign slashed its TV ads in the Twin Cities by nearly 90 percent the first week of October, and has been unable to cut into Biden&aposs lead in polls.

According to recent polling by Fivethirtyeight, a website dedicated to political analysis, Biden has maintained a steady lead in Minnesota by a minimum of four points since June. Less than a month out from Election Day, Biden has seen his highest numbers yet with a consistent lead over Trump of at least 50 percent of likely voters since September.

Trump’s reelection campaign had originally booked 422 ads in early October on two TV stations that have reported to the Federal Communications Commission, but has since cut back to 58 spots on those stations — an 87% reduction.

Biden had originally planned to spend significantly less than Trump on Minnesota ads. The former vice president&aposs campaign has more closely tracked with its original spending projections. 

Democratic leaders warn that Biden still may have his work cut out for him if he wants to counter those fears. 

Duluth Mayor Emily Larson said the Trump campaign has far outpaced Biden in local yard signs — which indicates enthusiasm, but may not ultimately affect the outcome.

“One of the things the Trump campaign has been very good about is visibility in Duluth, but also in areas around Duluth,” Larson told the Associated Press. 

A two-for-one deal

One unique characteristic about the Upper Midwest region consisting of states like Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan is that they are all swing states and all have a similar demographic. 

Kathryn Pearson, a political science professor at the University of Minnesota, explained that where one candidate campaigns can impact a neighboring state. 

According to Pearson, four years ago, Minnesota was under the radar for national political operations. What greatly contributed to such a thin margin in 2016 was a lack of campaigning between both Clinton’s and Trump’s camps. 

“President Trump came at the 11th hour, at the last minute, to campaign in the state,” Pearson said. 𠇊nd the Clinton campaign did not really campaign here very hard, and so there wasn’t a lot of campaign activity that often comes with voter mobilization.”

Had both parties known how close the race in the state would be in 2016, Pearson said much more activity would likely have been evident from both sides leading up to the election, as it has been in 2020.

Neighboring Wisconsin, a battleground state which turned red in 2016 largely due to Clinton’s inability to achieve party unity, still has an impact on voter perception in Minnesota and vice versa, Pearson said. 

Bernie Sanders beat Clinton in Minnesota’s caucus and also swept Wisconsin in every county but Milwaukee County. Sanders supporters rejected establishment politics, which contributed to Clinton’s defeat in the Badger State and a disconcertingly close victory in Minnesota. 

“There are some demographic similarities and differences between the two states,” said Pearson. “They are two distinct states, but because they share a border, candidates can often easily do a campaign event in one state in the morning and one state in the afternoon or have an event near the border that draws people from both states.”

“You can run an ad on FOX 9 and get 60 miles, probably 70 miles into western Wisconsin,” said Schultz. “Run an ad in Minnesota, you can cover a decent chunk in Wisconsin.” Which might explain the lack of campaigning four years ago, Schultz suggested. 

Schultz said he found both Trump and Biden have even taken out ads north of the border in Winnipeg, more than 400 miles north of Minneapolis, on television and radio stations to reach the northernmost parts of Minnesota. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Minnesota Woman Suffrage Association

Women waiting in line to vote in an election (probably for a school board) in a downtown Minneapolis precinct, c.1908.

From 1881 to 1920, the Minnesota Woman Suffrage Association (MWSA) struggled to secure women's right to vote. Its members organized marches, wrote petitions and letters, gathered signatures, gave speeches, and published pamphlets and broadsheets to force the Minnesota Legislature to recognize their right to vote. Due in part to its efforts, the legislature ratified the Nineteenth Amendment in 1919.

In the 1870s, women across Minnesota organized local women's suffrage groups. In 1875, the Minnesota Legislature recognized women's right to vote in school board elections. Many women, however, wanted to vote in all elections. Seeing the need for a statewide agency, fourteen women formed the MWSA. Among the founders were Harriet Bishop and Sarah Burger Stearns. Stearns became the organization's first president. By 1882, the MWSA had grown to two hundred members. In 1885, MWSA president Martha Ripley convinced the American Woman Suffrage Association (AWSA) to hold their annual convention in Minnesota.This national event demonstrated the importance of the MWSA. It also drew the attention of Minnesota's male lawmakers.The MWSA eventually became a chapter of the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA), which formed in 1890.

In 1893, the MWSA convinced the Minnesota Senate to take up women's suffrage. President Julia Bullard Nelson worked with Ignatius Donnelly, a Populist state senator. The Populists regularly supported a women's suffrage plank. Nelson herself was a Populist school superintendent candidate in 1894. Nelson and Donnelly initially sought the vote for women in municipal elections. However, the Senate went further. Its members voted to remove the word "male" from the state's voting requirements. The bill passed thirty-two to nineteen. However, this change did not pass the House. That chamber did not have time to take it up before the legislative session ended. Even if it had passed the House, however, the voters of Minnesota would have had to approve it before it became law.

After the failure of the 1893 amendment, the movement continued. However, the MWSA was unable to build on its earlier success. The MWSA and its ally, the Political Equality Club, placed women's suffrage before the state legislature every session. Each time, the bill either died in committee or was defeated.

During the 1910s, the movement picked up momentum again. In 1914, Clara Ueland organized a parade through Minneapolis of over two thousand suffrage supporters. Ueland became MWSA president that same year. This event gave the movement renewed attention. During this period, the MWSA had to contend with a rival organization, a Minnesota branch of the National Women's Party (NWP). The NWP was more radical than the MWSA. It was much more likely to take direct action, such as hunger strikes, than the MWSA. Even though they disagreed on tactics, the two organizations often worked together.

By 1919, thirty thousand women across the state officially belonged to local suffrage associations. They joined the MWSA, the NWP, and other organizations. Their numbers and continued activities convinced lawmakers to act. In 1919, the Minnesota Legislature recognized women's right to vote in presidential elections. The same year, the legislature ratified the Nineteenth Amendment. It did not take effect until 1920, however, when the required two-thirds of the states approved it. With their right to vote secured, the MWSA became the Minnesota League of Women of Voters. On the lawn of the Minnesota State Capitol is a memorial to the MWSA.

Minnesota House casts historic vote to legalize marijuana

The Minnesota House voted on Thursday to legalize marijuana for adults, the furthest the proposal has ever traveled in the Legislature and a watershed moment on an issue that has long languished in St. Paul.

After more than five hours of debate, the House voted 72-61 in favor of legalization, with support from nearly all Democrats and six Republicans. DFL Gov. Tim Walz supports the measure, but it still faces long odds to become law this year, with just days left in the regular 2021 session and opposition from Republicans in control of the state Senate.

But supporters lauded the package as one that would bring in millions of dollars in new tax revenue to regulate the industry while beginning to address the toll marijuana policing has taken on communities of color.

"This bill is a long time coming," said DFL Majority Leader Ryan Wink­ler of Golden Valley, who shepherded the legislation through the House. "Minnesotans have decided it's time to legalize cannabis and right the wrongs of the criminal prohibition of marijuana that has failed Minnesotans and has failed Minnesota."

Under the bill, Minnesotans 21 and older can have up to 10 pounds of cannabis in their homes and up to 2 ounces in a public place. It sets up a legal marketplace to sell marijuana, establishes labeling and safety requirements and dedicates revenue generated to regulation, youth access prevention and substance abuse treatment programs.

At the center of the bill are racial equity provisions that supporters say will begin to address the disproportionate toll marijuana policing has taken on communities of color.

Black people are more than five times more likely than white people to be arrested for marijuana possession in Minnesota, despite comparable usage rates, according to a 2020 report from the American Civil Liberties Union. The bill would automatically expunge low-level marijuana convictions and create a special board to review others.

"I know how hard change can be, I know how much easier it is for elected officials to stick to the status quo," said Rep. Rena Moran, DFL-St. Paul. "We can't keep relying on the status quo. Today the Minnesota House is taking one of the most significant steps toward racial equity."

But opponents of the proposal said they fear unsafe highways, increased substance-abuse problems and confusion over how to handle employees such as teachers, lawyers and contractors who are impaired in the workplace.

Rep. Dave Baker, R-Willmar, who lost his son to an opioid overdose, said people in treatment programs often cite marijuana as the drug that opened the door to other drug use.

"It starts with marijuana and it goes on to other things," he said. "This is not a joke, this is serious."

Republicans criticized Democrats in control of the House for taking up the bill before leaders strike a deal with the Senate on the state's next two-year budget.

"Our voters sent us here to pass a state budget and at this point Democrats have passed zero budget bills," Republican House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt said. "With just a few days left in session, we are wasting our time on this marijuana bill that has no chance of becoming law."

Right now, Minnesota allows marijuana only for certain medical conditions, and its program is one of the strictest in the nation, prohibiting enrollees from smoking the raw cannabis flower.

Sixteen states and the District of Columbia have already voted to legalize marijuana, including in neighboring South Dakota, where it received 54% of the vote in November. An April poll from Pew Research found 60% of Americans think marijuana should be legal for recreational and medical purposes.

Thursday's vote is the culmination of 15 community meetings across the state, consultation with 13 state agencies, multiple working groups and roughly 16 hours of debate in a dozen House committee hearings this session. Before this year, the legislation had a single hearing in the state Senate, where Republicans voted it down. Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka has said the issue is not a priority this session.

But a growing number of Democrats support legalization, including Walz, a dramatic shift from former DFL Gov. Mark Dayton, who stridently opposed recreational marijuana legalization.

Major disparities in marijuana policing also reinforced a push to pass the legislation in the DFL-led House, as Minnesota grapples with its own systemic racial disparities in the wake of George Floyd's killing in police custody.

Politically, Minnesota Democrats have motivation to take a public stand in favor of legalization. Candidates from two major political marijuana parties in the state siphoned votes from Democrats in a handful of critical legislative and congressional races in 2020, possibly handing Republicans control of the Senate.

Even if the issue goes nowhere this session, Winkler said the effort has pushed Senate Republicans to consider adding the raw flower to the state's medical program for adults, which would dramatically lower the costs of the program.

"We are putting this bill front and center and showing there is an appetite here at the Capitol," Winkler said. "It is also showing Republicans how much support there is in their own Republican base."

Briana Bierschbach • 651-925-5042

Briana Bierschbach is a politics and government reporter for the Star Tribune.

Watch the video: Minnesota Senate Election Voting History Class 1


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