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What the 2020 exit polls tell us about Minnesota

The election was both a personal rejection of Donald Trump and a collective verdict against one-party control of government.

MinnPost photo by Corey Anderson

The 2020 Minnesota exit polls offer an opportunity to compare the views of North Star state voters with the national electorate, and with Minnesota voters of four years ago.  With the count nearly complete, Biden bested Trump in the national popular vote 50.7 to 47.6, a 3.1 percent margin. He expanded that margin in Minnesota to 7.2 percent, receiving 52.6 percent of the vote to Trump’s 45.4 percent.

Which Minnesota voters accounted for Biden’s larger margin of victory? 

Biden’s share of the vote among Minnesotans aged 18-29 was 64 percent, four percentage points higher than he received nationally. Urban and suburban support for Biden was greater in Minnesota, as well. The Democrat received 68 percent of the urban vote in Minnesota compared to 60 percent nationally, and 50 percent of the suburban vote, 2 percentage points higher than his national figure. 

Minnesota’s college-educated white women were particularly emphatic in rejecting Trump, with 68 percent of them voting for Biden compared to 54 percent nationally. While Trump received 65 percent of the vote in Minnesota from his “base” demographic group, non-college white men, that also was five percentage points lower than his figure nationally.  

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Given all this, it is no surprise that Trump’s 47 percent job approval among Minnesota voters was lower than his 50 percent job approval among national voters. This resulted despite Trump’s higher Minnesota support among Blacks (21 percent versus 12 percent nationally) and Hispanics (40 percent versus 32 percent).

Comparing exit polls illustrates Minnesota’s bluer hue in 2020 compared to four years earlier, when Trump fell just 1.42 percent short defeating Hillary Clinton here. Trump in 2016 lost women by six points, but in 2020 that rose to a fifteen-point gap. The president’s white college-educated female support slumped in 2020, dropping from 39 percent of the 2016 vote to a paltry 31 percent in 2020.    

That 64 percent of the under-30 vote for Biden also was four percentage points higher than Clinton’s. Trump’s huge 55-to-38 margin  among the non-college educated in 2016 shrank four years later to 50-to-43.

Trump’s 2020 Minnesota vote among moderates and independents also was below that of 2016. Moderate support dropped nine points, from 43 percent to 34 percent, and independent support shrank from 44 to 41 percent.

Though the suburbs were a dead heat between Trump and his Democratic opponents in both years, Biden increased his support over that of Clinton in southern and northern Minnesota from the upper thirties to the low forties.  

photo of article author
Steven Schier
The presidential exit polls paint Minnesota as blue in 2020, but lower ballot races offered more GOP successes. Republicans flipped the seventh Congressional district in western Minnesota, held onto the State Senate and added five seats to their State House minority.

That also reflects national trends. The GOP is likely to retain control of the U.S. Senate and has won as many as 13 additional seats in the U.S. House. Nationwide, the GOP increased its number of state legislators and flipped two state legislative chambers. That positions them well to control the reapportionment of Congressional and state legislative districts in many states.

In all, the blue trend in Minnesota and nationally seems focused on the presidential race. The election in the state and nation is both a personal rejection of Donald Trump and a collective verdict against one-party control of government.

Steven Schier is the Emeritus Congdon Professor of Political Science at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota.

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