Destination 270

SMU Students Analyze the 2012 Presidential Election

Minnesota: A Reach for Romney

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The New York Times FiveThirtyEight blog predicts all 10 of Minnesota’s coveted electoral votes will assuredly go to President Obama. How sure? 94.7%. That is a lot of sure, and there are plenty of other historical and statistical arguments that substantiate FiveThirtyEight’s prediction.

Minnesota has been a democratically inclined state since 1932. Not only was Minnesota the only state to vote for Mondale (D) in 1984 (Mondale hailed from the state of 10,000 lakes), but it has also voted democratic in every election since Nixon in 1972. Minnesota is also home to its very own branch of the democratic party, the Democratic Farmers Labor Party (commonly referred to as the DFLers), which has had wild success within the state and currently holds numerous seats in both the Senate and the House.

One may think Minnesota should not even be considered in the swing state category, however, with a closer look there is opportunity for Mitt if taken advantage of. For starters, Minnesota is quite the divided state. Obama beat former President Bush by approximately 10.2% margin, but in past elections the vote has been split by as little as 2%. Minnesotans also seem to possibly be leaning more socially conservative. A amendment that will define marriage as only between a man and woman will be voted on in November. Currently 48% support the bill and 47% oppose, with 6% undecided.

Also relevant, Minnesota has had the highest voter turnout in the United States for seven straight elections with 77.8% of Minnesotans showing up at the polls in 2008 (16.2% points higher than the national average!). This has much to do with Minnesota’s lax registration policies which allow voters to register up till the day of the election. Currently, voting laws are in transition (which will be elaborated on in a future blog), still the point is Minnesotans are politically interested and turn up enthusiastically at the polls. Seemingly, spending money in this state could be well worth it for the GOP.

However, speaking of the GOP, the Republicans within the state are doing more to hinder Romney’s chance than help it. According to the Star Tribune the party only raised $99,000 in donations compared to the DFL’s $2.2 million. The state GOP also owes $848,000 in unpaid bills and was charged and fined $26,200 for violating campaign finance rules in July. To add to their woes, a sex scandal forced the state party chairman to resign at the end of last year and at one point they faced eviction from their state headquarters.

Statistically, Minnesota will vote for Obama come election day. Obama has a seven point lead according to PPP and a 10 point lead according to Survey USA. With a little less than 50 days to go the land of 10,000 lakes seems to be blue, but there is slight chance- maybe with the help of Ohio or a strong comeback by Romney, Minnesota’s water could turn to wine.


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