MINNEAPOLIS — After a night of symbolic victories for Republicans, political analysts say Minnesota is still unlikely to turn red – or even purple – anytime soon.
On Tuesday, Republican Michelle Fischbach defeated Rep. Collin Peterson, the long-serving Democrat from the Seventh District. Closer to the metro in the Second District, Republican Tyler Kistner fell just short of ousting DFL Rep. Angie Craig.
The Associated Press has not yet called the race in the Second District.
But beyond those symbolic shows of strength, University of Minnesota Political Science Professor Kathryn Pearson said Minnesota proved it still leans blue.
“It depends which races you’re talking about. At the presidential level, Joe Biden won by seven points. And given that Hillary Clinton won by only a percentage point and a half four years ago, that was a big win,” Pearson said.
Pearson says the urban-rural – and even suburban and exurban – divide has once again influenced the election results. She specifically notes the role of a heavy voter turnout in Hennepin and Ramsey Counties, where voters consistently vote for Democratic candidates.
“Given the demographics in voting patterns, if turnout is high in Hennepin and Ramsey [counties], it’s hard to imagine a Republican doing really well statewide,” Pearson said.
According to data available on the Minnesota Secretary of State website, 78.24 percent of the eligible population in Minnesota voted this year; that’s up from 74.72 percent in 2016. But data also revealed a larger jump in participation by urban voters: Ramsey County saw an increase from 274,780 in 2016 to 295,431 in 2020; and Hennepin County participation increased from 685,043 in 2016 to 746,165 in 2020.
Bottom line, Pearson says, if urban voters continue to vote, the state stays blue. As for the divide, she doesn’t expect it to disappear anytime soon and not without some deliberate changes.
“In the near term, it’s hard to see,” she said, before adding, “In the longer term, I would hope more parties would become more heterogeneous and more encompassing of regional differences.”