Huge Minnesota caucus turnouts give Rubio his only Super Tuesday win; Sanders beats Clinton

MinnPost photo by Bill Kelley
With more than 86 percent of the DFL votes tallied, Sanders won with 62 percent of the vote to Clinton's 38 percent.

Huge caucus turnouts in Minnesota Tuesday night brought notable wins for Sens. Marco Rubio and Bernie Sanders — along with long lines for voters and serious logistical problems for the state’s two major parties.

It was Rubio’s first win in the lead-up to the Republican presidential nomination, giving him a small gasp of hope as frontrunner Donald Trump pulls further ahead in the race.

Trump finished third in Minnesota, but kept up his national momentum with wins in seven other Super Tuesday states: Arkansas, Alabama, Georgia, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Vermont and Virginia.

Sen. Ted Cruz won three states: Alaska, Texas and Oklahoma.  

Sanders kept his campaign alive with the win in Minnesota and three other states — Vermont, Oklahoma and Colorado — but Clinton continued to add delegates to her total.

With 97 percent of the vote reported in the Minnesota Republican race, Rubio had 37 percent, Cruz 29 percent and Trump 21 percent. Also getting votes were Ben Carson, with 7 percent, and Gov. John Kasich, with 6.

With more than 86 percent of the DFL votes tallied, Sanders won with 62 percent of the vote to Clinton’s 38 percent.

The delegate count

Both parties will allocate their delegates to the national conventions this summer in proportion to last night’s results.

The Minnesota GOP Party will send 38 delegates to the convention; 24 will be allocated according to the results in the state’s eight congressional districts; the other 14 will be apportioned according to statewide results.

This afternoon, GOP officials announced the allocation: Rubio, 17 delegates, Cruz, 13 and Trump, 8.

DFLers have 93 delegates to the Democratic National Convention; 77 will be allocated according to the Tuesday caucus results. Sixteen more are superdelegates — party leaders and elected officials — who are not bound by Tuesday’s results.

Sanders won in each of the eight congressional districts, and with his win, will get more of the allocated delegates, but Clinton will get a large share, too, especially when the superdelegates are added. An AP delegate tracker reported early Wednesday gives Sanders 43 delegates and Clinton 35.

Many DFL leaders in the state have supported Clinton (the only top elected official to support Sanders has been Rep. Keith Ellison), but DFL Chair Martin congratulated Sanders for his strong campaign in the state, saying the Vermont senator was a delight to work with.

Sanders had visited the state three times in the last few days. Clinton was here Tuesday, hours before caucuses began.

In the wee hours of Wednesday morning, Sanders said in a statement:

“Tonight, voters in Colorado, Oklahoma and Minnesota have joined the people of Vermont in showing America that a political revolution is spreading across our country, that people want to take on the billionaire class and make our government work for all Americans and not just the top 1 percent.”

Big turnout causes headaches

Minnesota GOP Chairman Keith Downey and DFL Chairman Ken Martin both applauded the large turnout throughout the state. Downey said that the large numbers led to a long night, but said it’s a nice problem for a party leader to have.

The tight national races in both parties brought out large numbers of caucus-goers, leading to long lines, heavy traffic, limited parking and, in some cases, not enough presidential preference ballots. In a few precincts, officials reportedly tore sheets from legal pads and used other pieces of paper for makeshift ballots.

KSTP-TV political reporter Tom Hauser tweeted last night: “My daughter reports she gave up trying to vote at a U of M caucus. Arrived 20 minutes early, waited 2 hours … was on verge of frostbite.” And he wrote: “Says they were going to let people vote after 8 … but the line was so long she had to go home to study.”

More than 113,000 people attended the state’s Republican caucuses, breaking the attendance record of about 65,000 in 2008.

DFL officials said their attendance didn’t appear to reach that of 2008, when Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were fighting for the nomination, though it wasn’t far off. Officials said this year’s attendance at DFL caucuses was more than 185,000.

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Comments (29)

  1. Submitted by Matt Haas on 03/02/2016 - 09:06 am.

    With these contests largely being decided elsewhere

    The only numbers of import are the final two, 113,00 vs 185,000

    • Submitted by Phil Dech on 03/02/2016 - 10:05 am.

      I was struck by that number,

      as well. Arguably there was more on the line on the Republican side. At least the MN Republicans had the common sense to relegate Mr. Trump to third place.

  2. Submitted by Jim Million on 03/02/2016 - 09:49 am.

    My most pleasant takeaway…

    “…the Vermont senator was a delight to work with.”

    • Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 03/02/2016 - 12:27 pm.

      Grumpy old man

      I suspect that you don’t have to guess where you stand with Bernie or try to figure out any point he’s trying to make. That’s got to be refreshing for any politician. I also suspect that Bernie truly is a delight to work with despite his grumpy old man appearances. He has a sense of humor that he’s not afraid to use, and his political position seems to be one that treats human beings with basic respect. He seems tough but fair. To me, looking at any politician today, that’s “YUGE!”

      • Submitted by Jim Million on 03/03/2016 - 08:47 am.

        So True

        Bernie may always have been this openly direct guy, but don’t know (probably was).
        He appears to be free of the typical pol practice of checking the daily script in know what to say to group A and not to group B, and what to add for group C.

        He doesn’t appear to me to be a “grumpy old man,” but that might be due to hair identification
        as much as his mostly level rhetoric.

        He likely will not be more than a footnote to this 2016 campaign, but he sure has made a difference, hasn’t he?

        • Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 03/03/2016 - 12:47 pm.


          If he’s not part of the general election, the difference he makes will only be in the circus leading up to the general election. It will go back to same-old same-old if Hillary’s elected. I think I’ll just close my eyes and pray if Trump is elected. I know things won’t be the same, but I’m pretty sure I don’t want to know how they’ll be different.

  3. Submitted by joe smith on 03/02/2016 - 10:22 am.

    Republican turn out nation wide 8M plus, Democrat turnout 5M plus. Two very important numbers!

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 03/02/2016 - 01:45 pm.


      Let’s do the math. Eleven states had primaries or caucuses yesterday. Of that 11, five are rated by the most recent Gallup Poll as “reliably” or “leaning” Republican, four are rated “competitive,” and two are “reliably Democratic.” The total population of the Republican states is around 45 million, the total for the competitive states is 29 million, and the Democratic states come in with just under 8 million.

      I don’t suppose those demographics could have had anything to do with your “very important” numbers, could they?

      • Submitted by joe smith on 03/02/2016 - 04:55 pm.

        In the same states in 2008, the numbers were just the opposite, 8M plus for Obama 5M plus for Mccain. Up to you to figure out if it is important, but the demographics haven’t changed that much since 08. I know during Obama’s 7 years the Democrats have lost many Senate/House seats and Governorships but the same states came out big time for GOP in 2016.

        • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 03/03/2016 - 09:25 am.


          Are you comparing general election numbers to primary/caucus numbers? Because that kind of comparison would be fundamentally meaningless.

    • Submitted by Phil Dech on 03/02/2016 - 04:42 pm.


      I believe there was more at stake on the Republican side yesterday. Also, I do think there is an “anger” factor amongst the Republican base that just isn’t there on the Democratic side. If anything, Dem’s are angry about the unprecedented level of obstructionism that Obama has faced from Republicans the last several years. So we’re all mad at the same people! And honestly, most Dem’s I talk to would be okay with either Democratic candidate, so maybe not so much urgency to get out and caucus/primary yet. Doesn’t mean they won’t come out in droves come November if a polarizing figure like Trump or Cruz is the Republican nominee.

      • Submitted by joe smith on 03/03/2016 - 08:47 am.


        You don’t think Dems are upset that the middle class is getting hammered, manufacturing jobs are leaving the country at historic rates (due to tax policies), Dems health insurance has gone up not down also, Dems can’t be happy with record amounts of folks on welfare, black unemployment is exploding, Dems are upset that we are falling farther behind in education world wide while spending more, 94M folks of working age out of the work force, Mid East has gone wild, Russia is unchecked, the 1% doing better than ever past 7 yrs with Obama, Dodd/Frank has made the banking situation worse and the list goes on.

        I know the Dem elites tells the base this is all due to GOP obstruction but folks have a brain of their own. The real world Dems are feeling the same thing everyone else is, USA government needs a reset and regular folks, left or right leaning, need jobs!!

        • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 03/03/2016 - 04:37 pm.

          “Folks Have a Brain of Their Own”

          Indeed they do.

          They see that Republicans have accomplished nothing since taking control of Congress. They see that they have wasted their time (and the taxpayers’ money) on symbolic votes to repeal the ACA and fruitless investigations into the scandal of the day. They can see that time and effort are being put into protecting the tender sensibilities of religious conservatives and gun owners, while concerns about jobs, education, and health care are left unaddressed.

          They can see that the Republican Party has morphed into a gang of reflexive opponents who would rather die than be seen as cooperating with the President they elected and re-elected. They can see their pathetic bleating about the President they have vowed to obstruct at every step, beginning at his inauguration isn’t trying to reach out to them. They see that a platform has been given to extremists who harp on nonsense (hello, birthers!), or criminals who say the right anti-government words (or are Republicans publicly going to back the prosecution of the Bundy gang?).

          So yes, Americans are upset. I think they can tell that there is enough anger to share some with the Republicans.

      • Submitted by Jim Million on 03/03/2016 - 08:58 am.

        Very Interesting

        I appreciate your note that most of your conversations indicate friends would be happy either way. Have you some feeling for this? I see a significant difference between these two, so am wondering if your friends represent a political firmness in being Blue. That’s fine and traditional, of course.

        I’m just curious, that’s all.

  4. Submitted by Rich Crose on 03/02/2016 - 10:53 am.

    New vs Old Strategies

    Tweet, Text, Facebook, Instagram, Pintrest, Snapchat. If you didn’t hear from Sanders, you are older than 25. He did a fantastic job with the younger voters reaching them through their medium.

    On the other side, Rubio called every land line in the state at least three times.

    Rubio was fishing with nets and a trawler, Sanders was fly fishing.

  5. Submitted by Edward Blaise on 03/02/2016 - 11:30 am.

    In honor of the Academy Awards…

    If you watched you saw the cut to Sally Fields and then a clip of her 1984 Oscar acceptance speech:

    “I can’t deny the fact that you like me, right now, you like me!”

    Is also likely the Minnesota epitaph of Marco Rubio’s Presidential quest.

  6. Submitted by Keith Kuckler on 03/02/2016 - 11:39 am.

    I think that our elected super delegates have had a bit of a wakeup call. Bernie has shown that if you have a message that resonates with the voters, you can raise enough money to mount a credible challenge to the party elites. That combined with the increasing use of social media, is going to make it a lot harder for the party elites to control who can run. If Klobuchar does not start to at least listen to progressives, she could face a primary challenge. Having the super delegate system is not in itself that bad, the problem comes when these folks put their fingers on the scale before their voters have had a chance to express their opinion. Maybe the real role for a superdelegate should be limited to breaking a deadlock at the convention, instead of using there elected positions to push one candidate over another. I listened to Al Franken do what amounted to his Hillary ad on MPR Tuesday morning, with no Sanders surrogate asked to present Bernie’s case. That is really unfair, and, not democratic.

    • Submitted by B Carlson on 03/02/2016 - 12:02 pm.

      Yes, I noted that too on MPR

      Tuesday morning. Totally unfair to not allow some type of similar “ad” for Sanders also. I’d love for someone from MPR to respond to this.

      • Submitted by Keith Kuckler on 03/02/2016 - 07:18 pm.


        I have been a sustaining member of MPR for almost thrity five years. I have sent them several emails complaining about the biased coverage of Bernie Sanders. I have not received any response form them at all. I am thinking of showing up at the annual MPR meeting and burning my membership card, and considering that I started with them when Garrison was still up at Collegville, it will be a hard thing to do. I have watched them become more and more corporate year by year, and, I am not happy.

      • Submitted by Keith Kuckler on 03/03/2016 - 11:52 am.

        Well, guess what arrived in my morning email? Finally, got a reply on the biased coverage that I noted earlier this fall, and, on the morning of the caucus. The reply was the usual form letter, thank you for your concern, we try to be fair, ect. I would ask any listeners to MPR/NPR who think that their coverage is tilted toward Hillary Clinton, to contact their station and make your concerns known.

    • Submitted by Jim Million on 03/03/2016 - 09:10 am.


      Maybe someone should ask the Sanders people about this.

      Aside: Isn’t it also curious that Franken has slipped so comfortably into the Jet Blue stream?

  7. Submitted by Joel Stegner on 03/02/2016 - 12:21 pm.

    The people of Minnesota have spoken

    Trump got thumped in Minnesota – good for the Republican party.

    Sanders won with a very high turnout, with Democrat vote costs about 50% higher than Republican. I suspect that means that more voted for Bernie and Hillary individually than for any of the Republicans.

    The Republican Party is running an angry, frustrating candidate selection process with an outcome that will likely divide its party.

    The Democratic Party, although differing on the issues, aren’t using hate as a wedge to split their party, with one candidate retweeting the others quotes (which are definitely not borrowed from Mussolini)..

    When it gets to the general election there will be a choice – a positive united party with specific plans on how to improve life in our country vs. a fear-based divided party with no specific plans to improve things for the general public, but clear if undisclosed plans to cut social services and reduce taxes, particularly for high income households and corporations, while freeing business from regulations that protects the public from abuses.

    Make you choice based on what kind of country you want the US to be in the future.

  8. Submitted by jean burkhardt on 03/02/2016 - 05:33 pm.

    political honor still alive in minnesota

    Two stories from our DFL caucus in southern Minnesota giving me faith that people still believe political involvement to be an honorable enterprise:

    The father of a 20-something pulled me aside in the registration line. “Jean”, he said, “you know that I lean the other direction on the political spectrum but my son really wanted to be here and was unsure of how the process worked. Is it alright if I don’t register myself, but that I stay and help coach him through?” And, he did just that. A great gift to give his son– a start in political involvement.

    When tallying the final votes, I noticed that among the almost 200 ballots cast, there was just one lonely “uncommitted”. The story: a teenager really wanted to go the Republican caucus but couldn’t find a ride, so attended the DFL caucus with her friends. She dutifully registered and accepted the presidential preference ballot but when the time came to vote, told her fellow precinct members that she couldn’t in good conscience cast a vote, so put an X by “uncommitted”. An honorable young woman.

    • Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 03/03/2016 - 01:08 pm.

      Cool stories

      I’m happy to hear that there’s so much interest in the process that people are willing to make sacrifices in order to provide access to the process to others. I saw lots of young people at the DFL caucus. More than in 2008.

    • Submitted by Dan Hintz on 03/03/2016 - 06:09 pm.

      No it isn’t

      In order to register and vote in the DFL preference poll (even uncommitted) you have to affirm that you support DFLers. She lied in order to cast her vote. Its nice that she rode with her friends, but her behavior at the caucus was dishonest and dishonorable.

  9. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 03/03/2016 - 06:55 am.

    My Republican friends

    As a long time DFLer of the yellow dog persuasion, one thing I have always looked to the Republican Party for is the calling of our nonsense. No one is quicker that our Republican friends to call us on our hypocrisies which are mostly phony, but sometimes real. That said, and with great personal sadness, I must acknowledge my disappointment with the GOP in that they have not called “[insert appropriate barnyard epithet here]” on my party’s apparent comfort with Minnesota’s presidential caucus system. Mine is the party that stands forthrightly, sometimes courageously, for protecting the right to vote. We are for expanding voting hours and days. We are for same day registration, and making it easy to register to voter. We scream to the heavens when we see other states erect even the tiniest barrier to the right to vote. It is one of the positions about which I personally feel my liberal self righteousness is most justified.

    That said, what about the caucuses? How can we possibly make any sort of case at all that system which reduces voting to one, that’s right, one 90 minute voting window, in the middle of the winter at a number of locations greatly reduced from primary and general elections is in anyway consistent with the principles my party proudly stands for?

    The caucus system, in electoral terms, is Minnesota’s great unacknowledged scandal and shame. It is an intolerable attack on our right to vote, and we need a primary election system to replace it. Let the embarrassment of what happened last Tuesday, be the last such event, and let’s return to the basic principles of our party, and maybe even the other party should stand for.

    • Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 03/03/2016 - 01:06 pm.


      I was the caucus chair in our precinct. After a lot of confusion and a lot of delays and a lot of BS from party “leaders” in the area, we put our foot down and conducted our business to the best of our ability. It was a circus, but I was not going to let our caucus be bullied into changing the rules just because everything was complete chaos (there had been an accident that delayed a lot of voters, so we were told to leave voting open–I had someone check the statutes and they indicated that it was too late because we’d already elected our permanent representatives as part of caucus business). At one point, someone tried to take our ballots down to be officially counted and I had to ask them what exactly they were doing. Under no circumstances were those ballots leaving–while they had been counted, we did not yet know the results. They seemed a bit flabbergasted.

      Then, while we were taking votes on the resolutions and being fairly constantly interrupted by more BS from people who should know better, I proposed a resolution on the spot in front of our precinct caucus, our state senator, and our regional (?) chair. I proposed that the MN DFL support a primary system for presidential elections and retain the caucus system only for party business because the caucus system was unfair. There was opposition by the powers that be, but they couldn’t vote. It was approved almost unanimously by the precinct caucus. It’s time we make the entire process more inclusive and more workable than the joke that is caucusing (get off your high horses, GOP friends–it was just as crazy and non-inclusive over on the other side of the school).

      I earned a spot on the watch list for that, I know. I was asked by at least 2 officials what my name is. I don’t know if that watch list will mean I’ll be receiving phone calls for volunteering or whether the list will be the one that politicians watch their butts around. I’m glad I’m on the list, either way.

      • Submitted by Hiram Foster on 03/03/2016 - 01:40 pm.


        The caucus system is wrong on so many levels. Even within it’s own context it’s hopelessly undemocratic. There is no consistency, there are no rules capable of being enforced. We have no assurances at all that voters were qualified, or voting in anything approaching the right districts. Because of long lines and generalized chaos, I have no doubt that many voters couldn’t even get to their caucuses to vote.

        In it’s own quiet way, voting for president is a life or death decision. We should ensure that the system in which those votes are cast, is conducted honestly and fairly, in an atmosphere of decorum and respect. Voters must be able to get to the voting places, and they must have absolute assurances that their votes will be counted. These are basic principles of democracy. What amazes and appalls me is that Minnesota’s system of caucuses violates them so casually and so indifferently.

        What could we possibly be thinking of?

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