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The coming Republican state of Minnesota?

REUTERS/Baz Ratner
If Republicans were to win the open gubernatorial seat this November, they would perfect their control of Minnesota much like what happened in Wisconsin when Scott Walker won.

Minnesota Rep. Rick Nolan’s surprise decision not to seek re-election underscores how this state is at a political tipping point. This most Democratic of states in 2018 could finally turn Republican, following the path of Wisconsin and other Midwestern states. What happens in Minnesota this year could also decide which party controls the U.S. House and Senate.

schultz portrait
David Schultz

Minnesota is thought of as the liberal state of Hubert Humphrey, Eugene McCarthy, Walter Mondale, Paul Wellstone, and Al Franken. It is the most reliable Democrat state when it comes to the presidency; the last time it voted Republican was for Nixon in 1972. Tim Pawlenty in 2006 was the last Republican to win a statewide election in Minnesota. 

Signs of a shift

Yet there are many signs that the state is turning Republican. Since 1999, the Minnesota House of Representatives has been controlled by Republicans 14 out of 20 years. Since 2010 party control of the Minnesota Senate has flipped three times. Since 1999 a Democrat has controlled the governorship only eight years out of 20. When Democrat Mark Dayton won the governorship in 2010 he was the first of his party to win that office in Minnesota since 1986.

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.

DFL base seems to be eroding

As with nationally, the Democrats’ base appears to be eroding, contracting to simply urban areas. The reasons are multifaceted. There is the Democratic appeal to educated urban liberals, often more affluent, who may look down on or disdain as stupid their rural and suburban counterparts, or those who are working class because they do not share their same interests or lifestyle preferences. There is also the failure of both parties to pay attention to the class and economic concerns of white working-class America. They abandoned class for identity politics.

Democrats seem also to have a one-size-fits-all campaign strategy that works well with urban populations but which is not tailored to the suburbs and rural areas. Democrats have also embraced a “demographics with destiny” argument that often assumes that history in on their side and that eventually voters will return to their senses and vote for them. Finally, Republicans have well exploited the economic and cultural fears of rural, suburban, working class America, offering a narrative that resonates with those who feel ignored. All this is true nationally, and is being played out in Minnesota as well.

Center of the national action

Minnesota may be ground zero for national politics this year. There is an open race for governor and two U.S. senators up for election. While Amy Klobuchar is favored to win, Tina Smith – who replaced Al Franken after he resigned – faces a tough election and is no shoo-in. Nationally there are only about 25 swing House seats in the country, but four of them are in Minnesota. Two of them – Minnesota’s First and Eighth – are currently held by Democrats Tim Waltz and Rick Nolan and neither are running for re-election. These are open seats that have flipped party control over the years and are leaning Republican; both went for Trump in 2016. There are two other House seats — the Second and Third, respectively held by Jason Lewis and Erik Paulsen — that are rated competitive by the Cook Report as competitive, but still leaning Republican. The fate of the partisan control of Congress might rest with who wins Senate and House races in Minnesota.

Finally, at the start of the year the Minnesota Senate and House were, respectively, 34-33 and 77-57 Republican. A court fight over whether a Republican state senator must give up her seat when she became Lieutenant Governor to replace Tina Smith (who held that job) may decide in the next few weeks partisan control of it. Short of a wave election Republicans will maintain state House control.

If Republicans were to win the open gubernatorial seat this November, they would perfect their control of Minnesota much like what happened in Wisconsin when Scott Walker won. Such a prospect would then set up all the conditions for major policy change in Minnesota, along with a real possibility that in 2020 it would finally flip Republican in the presidential election.

David Schultz is a Hamline University professor of political science. His latest book is “Presidential Swing States: Why Only Ten Matter.”  He blogs at Schultz’s Take.   


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Comments (45)

  1. Submitted by Curtis Senker on 02/14/2018 - 08:31 am.

    I must say, I’m not used to such uplifting commentary from Minnpost. Thanks!

    • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 02/14/2018 - 10:27 am.

      Just the facts, Maam…

      Of course, the influence of one D Trump was not mentioned. He will be hung on the heads of Paulsen and Lewis in 2018. R Representatives in states similar to MN: CA, NJ, NY split their support for the tax cut 50% for 50% against. It was simply the “get the blue states” tax reform package. That Paulsen and Lewis and Emmer voted against their state’s interest because Paul Ryan told them to will not fair well with the voters.

      Klobuchar, one of MN’s top all time vote getters will drag Tina Smith to victory and TPAW 2.0 will go down like a glass of E85 with MN voters. (As you may recall, J Dutcher’s E85 comments is all that gave TPAW his second term.)

    • Submitted by ian wade on 02/14/2018 - 02:39 pm.

      Well, enjoy it…

      because that’s all it is…commentary.

      • Submitted by Curtis Senker on 02/15/2018 - 07:54 pm.

        Its the Minnpost; ever read It?

        • Submitted by ian wade on 02/16/2018 - 01:45 pm.


          Look, if you want to hang on to hope that Minnesota is going to follow Wisconsin down into the gutter based on this piece, have at it. I’ve read a lot of boisterous commentary from conservatives after the anomaly of Trump’s election, and all of it tends to dismiss the inevitable swing of the political pendulum.
          2010 was yours, 2018 will be the start of ours. Bank on it…

  2. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 02/14/2018 - 10:04 am.

    Republican Minnesota

    There was a time, a few decades ago, when I would probably have thought of Republican control of this – or any – state was a good thing. That was before Ronald Reagan and the takeover of the GOP by what was called a generation ago – and which still seems an accurate label – the “radical right.”

    The well-financed forces of reaction that have taken control of the modern Republican Party may, as Schultz suggests, turn Minnesota from a mildly progressive state into another knee-jerk reactionary one like Wisconsin, but we won’t be better off as a result, particularly if the example we follow is that of our neighbor to the east. The Walker administration has done damage to the Wisconsin economy and environment that, if not exactly permanent in the dictionary sense of the term, is certainly long-term, and from which it will take Bob LaFollette’s descendants a decade to recover, if not more.

    The growing expense, environmentally and socially, not to mention the tax dollars involved, of bribing FoxConn to locate its plant in the state may well turn out to be money very badly spent. Meanwhile, the Wisconsin DNR has been decimated, state parks and natural resources neglected, and social programs that Republicans of a century ago would have championed have been transformed by the modern-day iteration of the party into the usual right wing punishment of people of color, women, and anyone else disliked by this century’s reactionary white males. Like the current administration in Washington, the Wisconsin legislature and executive branches are rewriting the rules to serve a plutocracy, not a democracy.

    The prospect of a Minnesota version of Scott Walker or Paul Ryan should frighten anyone whose ethnic heritage (Jennifer Carhahan’s delusions notwithstanding) or sense of justice doesn’t fit well with the contemporary Republican Party, or whose income is not well into six figures to the right of the decimal point. Based on what I’ve seen and heard from current Republican candidates and office-holders, nationally and in Minnesota, the current GOP isn’t much interested in governing, and has mostly shown ineptitude in that regard. What today’s Republicans appear to want is to **rule**, which is not at all the same thing as governing in a society that purports to be representative and inclusive. 

    • Submitted by Bob Petersen on 02/14/2018 - 10:57 am.

      Fear the GOP

      When all else fails, shout out fear. After all, Wisconsin is burning, the Republicans are the only ones that receive tons of money, and conservatives are only those with six figure incomes.
      This rhetoric is what is wrong with the left and is why they have lost over 1000 elected positions in recent times. Wisconsin is not burning, the Dems get money from all over the place – unions, Soros, on and on and on, and there are a ton of liberals with uber high incomes telling the middle and lower incomes to pay more to the government.
      Keep talking this way. The hubris of the left gives you people like Trump. Instead of reaching out, liberals dig their heels in and make it identity politics. The Dem party has no ideas on issues, only demagoguery. That is the easiest path to losing more elections.

  3. Submitted by Tim Smith on 02/14/2018 - 10:27 am.

    Pretty hard to

    make the argument Walker has damaged the Wisconsin economy. Virtually every stat is much improved from his predecessor, a minor miracle considering the economy for decades has been based on manufacturing and agriculture. Not exactly the “it” industries nationally or internationally.

    Average citizens finally are finding relief from horribly high property taxes compared to the norm nationally.No longer are gov employees ripping from the wallet of their next door neighbor. Taxes have been cut, budgets balanced and while you like to use the extremist left scare words, bribe, decimated, blah blah, he actually has brought a common sense balance to state services compared to the extreme that governed the State (Even Repub governors) for decades.

    • Submitted by Christopher Williams on 02/14/2018 - 11:54 am.

      Sort of misleading…

      >make the argument Walker has damaged the Wisconsin economy. Virtually every stat is much improved from his predecessor, a minor miracle considering the economy for decades has been based on manufacturing and agriculture. Not exactly the “it” industries nationally or internationally

      Wisconsin has rebounded slower than all of its neighbors. It’s annual average job growth rate has been below the national average since 2010. The 2017 annual data isn’t out yet, but in 2016 – with the economy really starting to catch some steam, Wisconsin was 33rd in job growth according to the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In fact, Wisconsin’s 2016 job growth was 66% lower than it was in 2015.

      The much touted Foxconn deal is a huge corporate giveaway, not breaking even until 25 years from now, and then only marginally starting to make money according to the Walker administrations own estimates – estimates which are rosy and optimistic.

      Voters rated jobs as one of the most important issues to them in the 2016 election, and Scott Walker personally promised to add 250 thousand new jobs (which he hasn’t delivered on), so I think it’s fair to focus on this as a metric of success. What are these “virtually every stat is much improved” you speak of? Would be curious to take a look at them.

      • Submitted by Tim Smith on 02/14/2018 - 01:42 pm.

        you only

        collective the negative and and are so typically out of context. Yes, slower than its neighbors for many reasons out of a governors control.What he could control, tax and regulatory policy, he changed and it took time to take affect. But if you gave him all the blame, and Dayton all the credit years ago, then you have to admit Walker gets the credit now. Consistency in your “opinion” matters.Dayton didn’t exactly invent the Minnesota economic base, but betting you gave him all the credit..

        • Submitted by Christopher Williams on 02/15/2018 - 03:59 pm.

          On questions of context and consistency…

          >collective the negative and and are so typically out of context.

          Your argument was along the lines of virtually every stat improved. I showed that arguably the most important stat did not improve as well as its peers. You don’t refute this, nor do you provide backup for your claims of virtually every stat. What exactly am I taking out of context here?

          >What he could control, tax and regulatory policy, he changed and it took time to take affect.

          Walker has been in office since 2010. The first round of tax breaks he helped enact went in for 2011. How much more time do you propose we wait to be able to judge them fairly?

          >Consistency in your “opinion” matters.Dayton didn’t exactly invent the Minnesota economic base, but betting you gave him all the credit..

          You know what they say about assuming right? This is also a strawman. You assume my position and then complain I’m inconsistent about the position you invented for me.

          Try again. Facts this time please.

      • Submitted by Nick Foreman on 02/14/2018 - 01:54 pm.

        Thanks Christopher-the proof

        Of this disaster govenor in WI is obvious but always denied without any proof by right wing fools. While you will not receive any proof to support their nonsense, the people of WI will wake up and dismiss Walker just like this state dumped Pawlenty and his ilk the last 10 years- with a far better economy than clowns next door

        • Submitted by Tim Smith on 02/14/2018 - 02:09 pm.

          you have zero

          facts, reason or supporting documentation, just vitriol and divisive language. Thank you for proving out the cruxt of this article, alt left looks down on and does not connect with non urbanites.

          • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 02/15/2018 - 06:19 pm.

            TS Zero?

            Your answers are easily found in something called “Google”
            Median household income Wi: $52,893, MN $58,476,, educational achievement, MN rank 2, WI 11, GDP Rank MN 17, WI 20, and on and on and on.
            Don’t connect with non-urbanites, looks down? Evidently your really saying is non-urbanites don’t connect with the urban folks. Urban folks, live with one another regardless of race color creed etc. we have to connect with everyone, Our neighbors are 4-40 feet away, or the otherside of the wall, we bump into them every day! The non-urbanites probably closer to 400 feet to 4 miles between neighbors, small town we’ll give you 100, lake cottage closer to 400, and see them once a week. We probably have more diversity in 4 blocks here in Mpls, than most out state communities have in the entire county! Dude get a grip. From this perspective out state folks it seems like the cities are a foreign country, i.e. we are way to tolerant of different folks with different values, Example: How many Mosques are there in your neck of the woods? Can’t hardly drive to a grocery store W/O driving past one here! The message is diversity, other folks should get to have perspective as well as rural republican white folks, don’t you think? By the way speaking as an out stater from eastern WI.

            • Submitted by Tim Smith on 02/16/2018 - 01:43 pm.

              your stats on income

              are way out of context and very misleading,,,,if you don’t include cost of living and all the mega executive salaries here that bring up the average the stat is pretty useless. There are mosques where I live, so what?

              • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 02/20/2018 - 03:24 pm.

                They aren’t mine!

                T, you act as though I pulled those numbers out of my underwear! They came off reputable internet sites. They are “qualified” they are “median” that is a lot different than, “average”, did you not read it? Dude, you made the point about “zero” you were proved incorrect. You keep claiming you live in the north country? Is that incorrect as well? I have a friend Ali, originated in East Africa, and used to hunter lions with a spear, he is afraid to go deer hunting in MN, fear of getting shot in the woods by white hunters. I’m not calling you a liar, but, it is highly doubtful there are large populations of Muslims in the North woods. And it is easy to prove there are large populations around here, we can pull up some census tracts, give me the county, suspect it would come in less than tenths of a percent at best. Point again being Diversified populations, do they not deserve a say in our country? That’s the “so what” you didn’t answer!

  4. Submitted by Constance Sullivan on 02/14/2018 - 11:14 am.

    From his position on the right side of our political spectrum, Schultz wrongly implies that he knows the Democratic “strategy” for the 2018 elections in Minnesota. He doesn’t. Because they don’t know it, yet. Workin’ on it, because they are not the Party of No.

    There is growing consensus, nationally as well as within Minnesota, that two things will heavily benefit Democratic candidates for office in 2018: high voter turnout and campaign emphasis on how the Republican Party has shown its propensity for ignoring and devastating the well-being of people who are not the wealthy. Including tons of folks who voted for Republicans in 2016.The deal: don’t talk about Donald Trump anymore. Talk about what the Republicans under Ryan and McConnell have done to the average American’s life and hopes and opportunities.

    And: get voters engaged, so they come out to vote. Most Minnesotans still hold Democratic values.

  5. Submitted by Mike Chrun on 02/14/2018 - 11:52 am.

    Oh, Please, Pubs

    “Identity politics, extremist scare words, demagoguery, hubris,” are owned by the left? Not going to deny that these can be connected to the left at times, but it is absolutely laughable when the right accuses its opponents of these faults. “Muslims, immigrants, government schools, Soros, and, of course, Hillary” are used in exactly the same way, and, I might argue, much more frequently by the right. Just saw a Gallup Poll where over 30% of the right now has a favorable view of Putin. What reason on God’s green earth would cause this except identity politics ? If he interfered in our election and helped get the Buffoon in Chief elected, Putin can’t be all bad. If, after Hillary’s emails threatened our security, we have White House aides without security clearance that’s okay. If Stormy got $130,000 to keep quiet, well that’s okay. If we express concern for the husband who gave his wife a black eye and not mention the wife, well, that’s okay. If we lie constantly, that’s okay. But the Dems are the ones most guilty of identity politics. Unbelievable!

  6. Submitted by Joe Smith on 02/14/2018 - 01:40 pm.

    A DFL platform that doesn’t involve

    giving more of your money to the State, in a multitude of taxes, would help. When you have prominent Democrats calling it Armageddon that you get to keep more of your own money, there is a disconnect. People want jobs not Govt handouts. Years ago the DFL stood for the working man, now it seems as Mr. Shultz suggests, they look down working folks.

    • Submitted by Nick Foreman on 02/14/2018 - 02:09 pm.

      Republicans could care a less about

      Poor working people. They simply want to suck up to the rich and the corporations and get re-elected by voters who don’t get it.

      • Submitted by Joe Smith on 02/14/2018 - 04:00 pm.

        Nick, calling voters who cast votes

        for how things are in their home and around their kitchen table, “voters who don’t get it”, is exactly what Mr Shultz was talkin* about. Democrats think anyone who doesn’t agree with them as uneducated, backwards or deplorable. How about they just see things differently than you and respect their right to express it thru the ballet box.

  7. Submitted by Cameron Parkhurst on 02/14/2018 - 01:52 pm.

    Democrats are not going to win

    If all that is offered is more centrist, Republican light positions. It is time to take a position that is significantly different from the Republicans, to show that there is a difference between the two parties. A Progressive Democratic Party May still lose, but a Centrist Democratic Party that tries to walk a middle line has already lost and will likely continue to lose in the future.

  8. Submitted by Joe Musich on 02/14/2018 - 03:00 pm.

    In these times …

    the “trends” the writer speaks of may not satisfy the definition of the term. The difference in numbers in elections venues in this state may have dimininished between the parties but it is a clearly could have gone either way result. The dramatic increase in independents is the talking point that should be examined. Many more voters are not identifying with either party. Watch what happens to all those independents who went GOP this past year. Shrinkage is already occurring. If as was said regarding the Dems convincingly reinventing themselves by returning to Progressive roots voters will shift dramatically. But they better do something quickly. If that does not happen voter turn out will drop which some say part of the GOP war on fact-the destruction of confidence in government and election and democracy. The guys who have written How Democracies Die are onto to something. Checkout Teri Gross’s show for insight and listen for the two unspoken agreements my words they emphasize that are not working so well these days. Here is the link….

  9. Submitted by Janell Jirak on 02/15/2018 - 09:45 am.

    I have not followed Professor Schultz’ career,

    so I’m not qualified to comment on his politics, but I would like to comment on something written in this piece.

    I am an educated urban liberal, and I do not recognize myself in the professor’s description: “…who may look down on or disdain as stupid their rural and suburban counterparts.” I take his use of the word “may” to mean he has no research to back it up. (In fact, I noticed a lot of unsubstantiated “may”s in the piece.)

    I do not look down on or disdain as stupid my rural or suburban counterparts. I do not hear my educated urban liberal colleagues do so, I do not hear my educated urban liberal clients do so, and I do not hear my educated urban liberal friends or neighbors do so. I’m more than a little tired of having my character impugned in this way.

    I do sometimes read such comments made anonymously online, but I think we’ve all learned something recently about the sources of many anonymous online comments. The articles I’ve read indicate that at least some of those comments are made by Russians, designed to inflame and divide Americans.

    Oh, one more thing: the correct verb to follow “neither” is “is,” not “are.” I knew this when I was a rural high school student.

    • Submitted by John Appelen on 02/15/2018 - 12:41 pm.


      Please remember that “perception is reality”. Whether you perceive that you or your peers are putting down others is immaterial. What matters is that they seem to perceive that you and your peers are putting them down.

      For example, just think of the controversial things that have been said about rural voters when it comes to the Illegal Immigration, LGBT Rights, Mining / Farming Regulations, Abortion Rights, etc. Just to name a few.

      • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 02/16/2018 - 12:39 pm.

        “Controversial Things”

        “For example, just think of the controversial things that have been said about rural voters when it comes to the Illegal Immigration, LGBT Rights, Mining / Farming Regulations, Abortion Rights, etc. Just to name a few.”

        Why is it controversial to disagree on social issues? Should we just keep quiet about anti-Muslim comments or leaflets? Is it wrong to call out those who oppose illegal immigration while relying on that immigration for a cheap workforce? Should the pro-choice majority keep silent because their more conservative fellow-citizens find the topic disturbing?

        In any event, I thought voters chose Republicans because of economics and that the demagoguery on social issues was not all that important. This is the line that is used to try to convince suburban and even urban voters to go Republican–it’s not about the gay bashing or the Muslim hating, it’s about free markets! On the other hand, we’ve heard that the rural parts of the state abandoned the DFL because issues like LGBT rights and abortion have been “forced down their throats.” Which is it going to be?

      • Submitted by Bill Willy on 02/16/2018 - 01:25 pm.


        I read your comment last night and found it peculiar. Peculiar to the point where I had to re-read it a couple of times (as well as Ms Jirak’s) to try figure out what you were/might be talking about.

        “Please remember that ‘perception is reality.’ Whether you perceive that you or your peers are putting down others is immaterial. What matters is that they seem to perceive that you and your peers are putting them down.”

        While I’m familiar with the concept, I’m not sure perception is reality. I think there may be more to it than that . . . But that ancient question aside, the thing that jumped out at me was the idea that whether a person is aware that they’re “putting down others” doesn’t matter because the most important thing is what those others SEEM to perceive as being put down.

        “What?” I said to myself — re-read comments, rinse and repeat.

        If I write a comment about how infuriating (AND genuinely “anti-American”) it is for Republicans — who control Congress and the White House — to REFUSE to do what 80+ percent of “We the People” are yelling at them to do about DACA I should “please try to remember” that I MAY be saying something 20-or-so percent of my rural neighbors may “seem to perceive” as me putting them down (because they may seem to be worried about a few DACA people living anywhere near them, or what it might be like if they seemed to come across any of them in town)?

        I should be careful not to bend anyone out of shape by saying I think Republicans trying to get their “One man one woman” marriage perspective bolted onto the state’s Constitution looked like legalized discrimination to me?

        I should remember that if I say Republican’s simultaneous “Voter ID” amendment was an attempt at imposing Voter Suppression on Minnesotans — who have worked for decades to build one of the most admired voter participation environments in the country — others might “seem to perceive” that as me putting them down?

        Again: “What?”

        But, more specifically, since your comment was a reply to Ms Jirak’s comment, please point out the specific things in it that you see as putting down others; “rural voters” in particular.

        I ask because I didn’t see ANYthing that any but the most self-centered, overly-sensitive and paranoid (rural OR urban) voter could perceive as a put down.

    • Submitted by Curtis Senker on 02/15/2018 - 08:07 pm.

      It’s useful to remember that

      It’s useful to remember that 60% of Minnesota public students who graduate, have not mastered grade level math, and 40% have not mastered grade.level English….yet they can be said to be educated.

      Warming a chair isn’t a reliable measure of academic achievement.

  10. Submitted by John Eidel on 02/15/2018 - 10:31 am.

    Not a lot of evidence…

    for the claim that the author is making. Presidential elections in MN have generally been close since at least 1988. 2008 was a pretty big outlier, and the elections of 2008 and 2016 happened after 8 years of presidential power by the other party. In 2008 Obama won with 54% of the vote in the wake of a historically unpopular Bush presidency, and Clinton won 46.4 to 44.9 after 8 years of Obama. 2004 was 51 to 48 in favor of Kerry, 2000 was 48 to 46 in favor of Gore, 1996 was 51 to 35 for Clinton with 12 going to Perot, and 1992 was 43 to 32 in favor of Clinton with 24 going to Perot. At least as it relates to presidential elections, it doesn’t matter what county or district the voters live in. Unless the author is ready to extrapolate long term trends from the 2016 presidential election, there just isn’t any evidence for a growing wave of Republicanism in the state on the presidential level.

    As for the Senate in the same time frame, we have elected Durenburger, Grams and Coleman on the Republican side with Wellstone, Dayton, Klobuchar and Franken on the Democratic side. No Republican has won a Senate race since 2002, but almost all of the elections have been close especially Franken in 2008. All of the Gubernatorial races have been relatively close with Republicans winning more than Democrats.

    I think that the author’s points regarding the legislature are stronger, and it is true that the Democratic base is more concentrated in urban areas though his comments regarding the reasons for this are highly debatable. That being said, I think that the existing evidence points to an electorate that skews Democratic statewide but has been pretty evenly divided for quite some time. Time will tell if the 2016 election is an outlier or trend, but the author doesn’t really provide evidence supporting a groundswell of Republican support. If Republicans win those toss up house seats, retain the legislature and win the governor’s race in the face of a very unpopular President and potential Democratic wave nationwide, then he may be on to something.

    • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 02/16/2018 - 04:56 pm.

      You know

      Classifying Gov. Carlson as a “R” is a little tricky, he wasn’t even endorsed by the “R” party, if there is such a thing we could actually call Arne an “Independent” republican!

      • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 02/19/2018 - 06:24 am.

        Sort of Like

        The way Ron Reagan would not be considered a Republican today, given the huge tax increases he passed.

        What’s that you say? He blew up the debt, like all good GOP presidents do? Well there’s that.

  11. Submitted by Theo Kozel on 02/16/2018 - 03:28 pm.

    Disappointingly hackish

    I find this article disappointingly hackish for a number of reasons:


    “Since 1999 a Democrat has controlled the governorship only eight years out of 20”

    This line is perhaps the most disingenuous of all. The 1998 election was won by Jesse Ventura. He was followed by two terms of Pawlenty, then two terms of Dayton. If you really think about it, the correct version would be:

    “Since 1999, Democrats and Republicans have controlled the governorship equally.”


    As Mr. Schultz alluded to, geographic sorting is an alternative theory to the central theory of this article, that Minnesota is becoming more Republican. Geographic sorting just happens to be a theory that much better explains the political phenomena we are seeing in Minnesota:

    As Mr. Schultz states, 2006 is the last year a Republican has won a statewide election. Statewide elections include the Attorney General, SOS, gubernatorial, State Auditor, presidential election and (2) senatorial elections. So seven offices with roughly 2 elections each between 2006 and now, and the GOP has a record of 0-14. Does this look like a GOP turn to anyone?

    Let’s develop this point further: the last time a GOP candidate got 50%+ of the gubernatorial vote was in 1994…when Arne Carlson, who we might gently describe as a GOP apostate (pro-choice, pro-gay marriage) won 63%. Anyone think a candidate like Carlson could once again make it past the current GOP base?

    Conversely the last time a Democratic gubernatorial candidate won a 50%+ majority was….the very last election of 2014. Add to that the fact that I doubt anyone would accuse Mark Dayton of great charisma or superlative political skills and yet he beat the man who is one of the GOP front runners for the nomination this year.

    Now let’s move on to point 3:

    All across the country, the Democratic Party was decimated at the state level during Obama’s presidency. In looking at this phenomena, you have to ask: where is the pendulum at? State legislatures fell at a shocking rate to the GOP over this time- are we betting that the pendulum will continue in the same direction as it had under Obama now that Trump is in office?

    Now let’s move on to point 4:

    What typically happens at midterm elections during a president’s first term? The opposing party makes gains. Do we have reason to believe something different will happen this year? Perhaps we could look at the running tally of special elections since the beginning of the Trump presidency? To wit:

    Point 5: Even in elections Democrats have lost, their vote margin compared to Hilary Clinton has improved by consistent and solid margins, both in Minnesota state elections and across the country:

    Mr. Schulz, with all due respect, your article is standing on tracks deaf to the freight train roar of facts contrary to its conclusion.

  12. Submitted by Kurt Anderson on 02/16/2018 - 10:43 pm.

    One un-measured factor

    Did the DFL boot away its remaining share of the Catholic vote – Minnesota’s largest religious bloc – when it engineered the 2013 law (passed unanimously) that put three of the six dioceses into bankruptcy? In the 2012 elections the DFL had a marginal but significant advantage in legislative elections, that seems to have vaporized.

    • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 02/17/2018 - 08:41 am.

      Progressives WIll Hate Me Bringing This Up

      Suppose that after the defeat of the marriage amendment, progressives had just waited for the SCOTUS decision that came in 2015? The legislature passed the law permitting gay marriage in 2013. The GOP took back the state House in November 2014, with the DFL struggling out state ever since.

      I get it, justice delayed is justice denied and all that. And no one has a crystal ball. Meanwhile, progressives of all orientations who are residents of Saint Paul have been getting the short end of the minuscule bonding bills since 2014. We are near the bottom per capita on state bonding money, despite being net contributors to the state budget. Straight, gay or whatever, pot holes don’t discriminate and a $300 repair bill is a bad deal. Whatever your orientation, we have not been maintaining state assets such as our public universities. Back when my conservative brother-in-law went to the U of M, he paid 1/3 of the cost of his education. Now we ask students of all orientations to pony up 2/3.

      • Submitted by ian wade on 02/17/2018 - 03:45 pm.

        You’re skipping something, Frank.

        It’s the part where the DFL took back control in 2012 after the GOP had tried to outlaw same sex marriage and force voter ID on this state. It was obvious that the DFL had to act to protect the LBGTQ community from having their civil rights infringed. There was no guarantee as to how SCOTUS would rule.
        The fact is that there’s absolutely no reason why anybody should care whether two people of the same sex want to marry. It’s simply none of their business.

        • Submitted by Curtis Senker on 02/19/2018 - 07:29 pm.

          And then, they promptly lost that control after folks saw the bait and switch that wad perpetrated against them by the DFL, who ran their campaign on the promise that “it’s already against the law”.

          Folks don’t like being lied to. They have longer memories than many politicians count on.

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 02/21/2018 - 11:19 am.

        The MNDFL doesn’t lose because it supports civil rights

        If anything the MNDFL lost because they themselves dialed back Dayton’s budget because they were afraid of “over-reach”. How you explain to rural voters that you could have delivered more services and infrastructure but decided not to… because you were afraid of losing their vote?

        The MNDFL went into that election cycle as the Party that could have but didn’t, THAT’S what cost them the election. Republicans ran on the promise of delivering what the Democrats had not.

        Furthermore it always looked to me like the MNDFL in that election cycle basically kept one hand tied behind it’s back, they could come out swinging as the Party that has always historically delivered more to rural Minnesota but all we could hear was crickets. I can’t prove it, but I think there was a rift between Dayton and a faction within legislature that produced a disjointed campaign approach to that election cycle. I think some MNDFL legislators wouldn’t have been to sorry to see Dayton lose that election. I think some legislators calculated that Dayton was vulnerable but they weren’t, instead he won and THEY lost.

        At any rate, the lesson is: when your in power, solve problems and run on the success. Don’t leave problems on the table so someone else can promise to solve them.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 02/17/2018 - 11:01 am.

      2013 Law

      That law was passed to allow the victims of clergy sexual abuse some measure of justice.

      I want no part of voters whose values include allowing pedophiles and their institutional enablers to escape accountability.

  13. Submitted by DENNIS SCHMINKE on 02/19/2018 - 08:26 pm.

    Republican Minnesota

    Well…two things that are CERTAINLY driving this are the fact that the metro-controlled DFL has let itself evolve into the party of grievance, and they are doing their dead-level best to alienate their ‘F’ (farmer) and ‘L’ (private-sector union) constituencies.

  14. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 02/20/2018 - 09:48 am.


    So long as the DFL refuses to be a liberal party, and pursues it’s fantasy of centrism moderation, it will see it’s political influence and electoral success decay. It looks they are now well on their way towards nominating another milk toast candidate for governor, one is likely the only one that can actually lose the election. Meanwhile, the DFL still has not produced the most obvious and popular campaign agenda at it’s disposal and will enter the election season no agenda other than not being Republicans.

    It’s like they don’t want to win elections and deliver good government and policies to the voters.

    The only antidote to Mr. Schultz’s scenario is the emergence of a liberal Party that runs on and delivers popular policies and agendas.

    • Submitted by John Appelen on 02/20/2018 - 11:58 am.


      Did you see Dayton as “another milk toast candidate for governor”?

      I mean he did win 2 terms…

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 02/21/2018 - 10:07 am.

        Dayton was not the DFL favorite

        I can’t remember who the MNDFL wanted to endorse but it wasn’t Dayton, or Franken for that matter. Dayton skipped the nominating convention and went straight to the primaries. So no, Dayton was not a milk toast candidate, he was a more liberal candidate, which is why he won. The MNDFL now shows every sign of reasserting it’s control over the nomination process and that will put milk toast Walz on the ballot. I would expect Walz to lose unless the Republicans put a complete whackadoo on the ballot. Pawlenty wouldn’t have a chance against a decent liberal Candidate but Walz would make it a 50-50 roll of the dice.

        The ONLY saving grace might be that Minnesotan’s split their ballots, Democrats (and the state) might luck out if we put end up with a Republican Governor and a Democrat Senate or something. But Pawlenty was a disaster and would be again so even if Democrats “win” in THAT scenario the voters still lose.

        • Submitted by John Appelen on 02/21/2018 - 06:08 pm.

          Not Sure

          My guess is if the Democratic Party goes further Left/ Elite, they will lose more votes than they gain, however that is just my opinion.

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