DFL Gov. Tim Walz beat GOP candidate Scott Jensen in Tuesday’s election by 7.7 percentage points, a smaller margin than his 11.4-point victory in 2018. Nonetheless, it was considered a major victory for the DFL in a year where political headwinds of inflation and crime made it seem like voters could favor Republicans.
After all of Minnesota’s precincts reported results, MinnPost took a look at where in the state Walz’s advantage came from — and how that differed from when he won his first term in 2018 against GOP candidate Jeff Johnson. (Note: 2022 results are considered preliminary until they are canvassed and may change slightly.)
Improving on a suburban margin
Like the rest of the country, Minnesota has become increasingly politically polarized along geographic lines. Where Republicans have solidified their base in more rural parts of the state, the core cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul have become increasingly DFL.
Other than a handful of swing districts in Greater Minnesota college towns and historically DFL areas, voters in the suburbs tend to be most up-for-grabs and are needed by either party to win statewide and control state government.
A look at the governor results show Walz winning in the Twin Cities suburbs (defined here as the seven-county Twin Cities metro area outside of Minneapolis and St. Paul) on Tuesday by a slightly larger margin than he won by in the suburbs in 2018.
Greater Minnesota goes more red
In 2018, Walz lost Greater Minnesota but outperformed other Democrats in the 80 counties outside of the Twin Cities metro. Tuesday’s showing for Walz was more tepid in Greater Minnesota than four years ago, suggesting Walz could be losing voters in Greater Minnesota as Republicans solidify their base outside the metro.
Relative to Johnson’s showing against Walz in 2018, Jensen had a good night in Greater Minnesota, but his advantage there was not enough to make up for Walz’s lead in the suburbs and in Minneapolis and St. Paul.
A breakdown of votes by candidate in Minnesota congressional districts gives a more regional idea of the gubernatorial vote.
Walz won every Minnesota congressional district held by a DFLer, while Jensen won every district held by a Republican.
Of the districts represented by Republicans, Walz came closest to winning the 1st District, which he formerly represented in Congress. Of districts represented by DFLers, Jensen came closest to winning in the 2nd District, which, with Rep. Angie Craig winning reelection by 5 points, was the closest congressional race of the night.
Altogether, there were fewer votes between the Republican and DFL candidates in the suburbs and in Minneapolis/St. Paul in 2022 than there were in 2018, while there were more votes in 2022 than in 2018 in Greater Minnesota.