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On the contributions side, Minnesota is decidedly purple

Political contributions for federal candidates, parties and political action committees are running heavily Democratic around the nation this year, but not here: In both the Twin Cities and the state of Minnesota, the parties are virtually tied.

According to an analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics using Federal Election Commission data through the end of October, Democrats had received $447 million of contributions nationwide for House, Senate and presidential races, while Republicans received $322 million. That’s a 58 to 42 split.

Contributions by Minnesota individuals and enterprises, however, are split 50 percent Democrats, 49 percent Republicans. Only one other state was as evenly divided — Michigan. There were five other states in which both parties received at least 48 percent — Florida, Virginia, North Carolina, Louisiana and North Dakota.

Same story at the metro level: Contributions from the Twin Cities metro area are 50-50 this year.

That may seem like a surprising result, given Minnesota’s blue voting pattern in presidential and congressional elections.

But actually, our giving pattern until this year was decidedly red.

In 2006, Minnesota contributions to federal candidates, parties and PACs went 45 percent Democratic; in 2004 it was 42 percent. In 2002, it was 32 percent Democratic, and in 2000 it was 39 percent. The pattern is similar if you look only at the Twin Cities metro area. Of course, the national giving patterns were redder then than now.

Even though the 2008 U.S. Senate race in Minnesota ranked as the second-most expensive Senate race in the nation, Minnesota is only 20th in total dollars contributed in the 2008 cycle — about equal to its population rank of 21. A lot of the money donated to the candidates in the race for Norm Coleman’s seat is coming from outside the state. Among incumbents, only Max Baucus, D-Mont., and Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., have raised more money outside their own state than Coleman.

Through the end of the third quarter, challenger Al Franken has raised slightly more money than incumbent Coleman. (Mike Ciresi, who is contending with Franken for the Democratic nomination, has raised far less.)

Franken’s fundraising success dramatically bucks the national trend: Through the end of October, Senate incumbents were out-fundraising their challengers by more than 4 to 1.

The incumbent fundraising advantage would be even greater if not for the U.S. Senate race in Texas, in which Democratic challenger Mikal Watts reported raising nearly double the amount raised by Republican incumbent John Cornyn. Watts was mainly self-financing his campaign, and he has now dropped out of the race.

Can’t get enough of these kinds of numbers? Go to the center’s data site, for more.

Joel Kramer is MinnPost CEO and editor.

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