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Democrats spent more than Republicans on the 2016 legislative election and lost seats. Was it all a waste?

DFL Chair Ken Martin
MinnPost photo by Bill Kelley
DFL Chair Ken Martin said that though there are lessons to be learned from this election, the outcome had a lot to do with forces larger than campaigning and money.

For all the fuss about money in state legislative races, you’d think that in politics, cash was kingmaker.

Legislators attend fundraiser after fundraiser to raise money they will spend getting their message out to voters. Outside spending groups pour money into mailers and television ads in the hopes of tipping the scale in favor of one candidate or another. And journalists track all this spending, trying to draw conclusions about which races are the closest and who’s likely to win.

But, as the old saying goes, money isn’t everything.

In races for seats for the Minnesota House and Senate in November, DFL candidates and their affiliated groups spent about 40 percent more than Republicans, yet the GOP picked up sufficient seats to win control of Senate and increase the size of their majority in the House.

That result raised some uncomfortable questions for Democrats: all that organization, fundraising and spending — significantly more than their opponents — only to lose power in St. Paul. Was it worth it? Had money made any difference at all in the race? With the final reports on spending in the campaign made publicly available this month, MinnPost combed through the numbers, trying to figure out where money mattered in the 2016 legislative races.

Democrats spend, Republicans win

Campaign finance filings show nearly $31 million was spent to influence state legislative elections in Minnesota this year. Of that total, which includes spending by candidates, parties and political committees and funds, about 58 percent was spent by those seeking to help Democrats — either by supporting the candidate or attacking his or her opponent.

Spending by source in the 2016 state legislative elections
Source: Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board

There’s something big missing from these numbers, though. Spending reports for two active political committees — the Minnesota Jobs Coalition Legislative Fund, which is a major GOP spending group, and the smaller Building a Greater Minnesota, were not filed by the Jan. 31 deadline, and as a result their filings only show independent expenditures reported as spent through Oct. 24. At that time, Minnesota Jobs Coalition had spent more than $638,000 on independent expenditures, so the missing disclosures potentially include a lot of money spent in the weeks before the election. By Oct. 24, Building a Greater Minnesota had spent about $4,000 to help elect a DFLer running for Senate.

MinnPost’s tally does not include spending related to candidates who lost primary elections. It also doesn’t include money we don’t know about — unreported expenditures made through “dark money” groups.

Republicans had a great election night. They increased their majority in the House by three seats and now hold the chamber 76-57 (a special election will determine the fate of the final seat, 32B, on Tuesday). They gained six seats in the Senate for a 34-33 majority.

If you look at spending patterns in the races themselves, Republicans and affiliated groups put more resources into outspending Democrats in certain House races (where Democrats spent about $1.1 for every $1 Republicans spent), than in Senate races, (Democrat-affiliated spending for Senate seats was about $1.9 for every $1 Republicans spent).

Total spending in Minnesota Minnesota House races
Greater MinnesotaMetro
2A House District 2A
Spending
Spent to help Republicans:$ 100,877.39
Spent to help Democrats:$ 11,387.98
Total spending:$ 112,265.37

Spending rank for all House races: 29

Results
Matthew J. Grossell (R)* 63.94%
Jerry Loud (DFL) 35.74%
*Incumbent
1A House District 1A
Spending
Spent to help Republicans:$ 24,387.24
Spent to help Democrats:$ 6,634.79
Total spending:$ 31,022.03

Spending rank for all House races: 75

Results
Dan Fabian (R)* 74.24%
George Nyakasi Bass (DFL) 25.66%
*Incumbent
1B House District 1B
Spending
Spent to help Republicans:$ 38,518.38
Spent to help Democrats:$ 22,904.00
Total spending:$ 61,422.38

Spending rank for all House races: 44

Results
Debra (Deb) Kiel (R)* 64.75%
Michael "Mike" Moore (DFL) 35.15%
*Incumbent
2B House District 2B
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 71,310.44
Spent to help Republicans:$ 26,047.15
Total spending:$ 97,357.59

Spending rank for all House races: 33

Results
Steve Green (R)* 60.94%
Bryan Klabunde (DFL) 38.99%
*Incumbent
6A House District 6A
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 55,899.02
Spent to help Republicans:$ 19,950.59
Total spending:$ 75,849.61

Spending rank for all House races: 39

Results
Julie Sandstede (DFL)* 58.85%
Robert (Rob) Farnsworth (R) 40.76%
*Incumbent
6B House District 6B
Spending
Spent to help Republicans:$ 6,346.17
Spent to help Democrats:$ 6,215.14
Total spending:$ 12,561.31

Spending rank for all House races: 118

Results
Jason I. Metsa (DFL)* 60.42%
Matt Matasich (R) 39.44%
*Incumbent
3B House District 3B
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 21,455.62
Spent to help Republicans:$ 9,178.16
Total spending:$ 30,633.78

Spending rank for all House races: 77

Results
Mary Murphy (DFL)* 59.57%
Timothy Brandon (R) 40.32%
*Incumbent
3A House District 3A
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 28,594.09
Spent to help Republicans:$ 0.00
Total spending:$ 28,594.09

Spending rank for all House races: 81

Results
Rob Ecklund (DFL)* 63.25%
Tom Long (R) 36.55%
*Incumbent
4A House District 4A
Spending
Spent to help Republicans:$ 6,638.44
Spent to help Democrats:$ 5,035.21
Total spending:$ 11,673.65

Spending rank for all House races: 121

Results
Ben Lien (DFL)* 62.2%
Jordan Idso (R) 37.72%
*Incumbent
4B House District 4B
Spending
Spent to help Republicans:$ 259,763.05
Spent to help Democrats:$ 84,828.01
Total spending:$ 344,591.06

Spending rank for all House races: 19

Results
Paul Marquart (DFL)* 53.85%
Ben Grimsley (R) 46.09%
*Incumbent
5A House District 5A
Spending
Spent to help Republicans:$ 190,989.47
Spent to help Democrats:$ 91,801.99
Total spending:$ 282,791.46

Spending rank for all House races: 22

Results
Matt Bliss (R)* 53.88%
John Persell (DFL) 45.99%
*Incumbent
5B House District 5B
Spending
Spent to help Republicans:$ 327,213.93
Spent to help Democrats:$ 168,909.46
Total spending:$ 496,123.39

Spending rank for all House races: 16

Results
Sandy Layman (R)* 53.61%
Tom Anzelc (DFL) 42.01%
*Incumbent
7B House District 7B
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 23,646.34
Spent to help Republicans:$ 479.62
Total spending:$ 24,125.96

Spending rank for all House races: 94

Results
Liz Olson (DFL)* 70.87%
Cody Barringer (R) 28.92%
*Incumbent
7A House District 7A
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 13,177.48
Spent to help Republicans:$ 0.00
Total spending:$ 13,177.48

Spending rank for all House races: 116

Results
Jennifer Schultz (DFL)* 70.3%
Dylan C. Raddant (R) 29.42%
*Incumbent
8A House District 8A
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 16,071.94
Spent to help Republicans:$ 14,803.35
Total spending:$ 30,875.29

Spending rank for all House races: 76

Results
Bud Nornes (R)* 65.19%
C. J. Holl (DFL) 34.7%
*Incumbent
8B House District 8B
Spending
Spent to help Republicans:$ 44,988.70
Spent to help Democrats:$ 24,536.06
Total spending:$ 69,524.76

Spending rank for all House races: 42

Results
Mary Franson (R)* 64.87%
Gail Kulp (DFL) 35.02%
*Incumbent
10A House District 10A
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 53,857.46
Spent to help Republicans:$ 37,437.65
Total spending:$ 91,295.11

Spending rank for all House races: 34

Results
Josh Heintzeman (R)* 59.32%
Quinn Nystrom (DFL) 40.55%
*Incumbent
10B House District 10B
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 51,783.12
Spent to help Republicans:$ 31,404.62
Total spending:$ 83,187.74

Spending rank for all House races: 37

Results
Dale K Lueck (R)* 63.13%
Erin Wagner (DFL) 36.78%
*Incumbent
11A House District 11A
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 7,893.38
Spent to help Republicans:$ 2,971.11
Total spending:$ 10,864.49

Spending rank for all House races: 123

Results
Mike Sundin (DFL)* 59.68%
Mike Line (R) 40.18%
*Incumbent
30A House District 30A
Spending
Spent to help Republicans:$ 16,815.94
Spent to help Democrats:$ 3,803.30
Total spending:$ 20,619.24

Spending rank for all House races: 102

Results
Nick Zerwas (R)* 68.58%
Sarah Hamlin (DFL) 31.29%
*Incumbent
30B House District 30B
Spending
Spent to help Republicans:$ 11,137.50
Spent to help Democrats:$ 6,057.17
Total spending:$ 17,194.67

Spending rank for all House races: 108

Results
Eric Lucero (R)* 70.16%
Margaret Fernandez (DFL) 29.7%
*Incumbent
35A House District 35A
Spending
Spent to help Republicans:$ 13,993.17
Spent to help Democrats:$ 8,569.64
Total spending:$ 22,562.81

Spending rank for all House races: 97

Results
Abigail Whelan (R)* 61.35%
Andy Hillebregt (DFL) 38.48%
*Incumbent
35B House District 35B
Spending
Spent to help Republicans:$ 22,201.45
Spent to help Democrats:$ 17,895.90
Total spending:$ 40,097.35

Spending rank for all House races: 57

Results
Wes Volkenant (DFL) 35.17%
Peggy Scott (R)* 64.74%
*Incumbent
31B House District 31B
Spending
Spent to help Republicans:$ 53,342.58
Spent to help Democrats:$ 7,430.91
Total spending:$ 60,773.49

Spending rank for all House races: 45

Results
Cal (Calvin) K. Bahr (R) 66.42%
Susan Larson (DFL) 33.41%
32B House District 32B
Due to a court ruling, no election was held in House District 32B. A special election will be held on Februray 14, 2017.
12A House District 12A
Spending
Spent to help Republicans:$ 298,205.70
Spent to help Democrats:$ 221,255.44
Total spending:$ 519,461.14

Spending rank for all House races: 15

Results
Jeff Backer (R)* 60.46%
Jay McNamar (DFL) 39.46%
*Incumbent
9A House District 9A
Spending
Spent to help Republicans:$ 31,033.56
Spent to help Democrats:$ 270.57
Total spending:$ 31,304.13

Spending rank for all House races: 74

Results
John M. Poston (R) 68.53%
Meg Litts (DFL) 31.31%
9B House District 9B
Spending
Spent to help Republicans:$ 18,542.22
Spent to help Democrats:$ 9,272.14
Total spending:$ 27,814.36

Spending rank for all House races: 85

Results
Ron Kresha (R)* 72.3%
Dustin Simmonds (DFL) 27.62%
*Incumbent
15B House District 15B
Spending
Spent to help Republicans:$ 22,359.36
Spent to help Democrats:$ 11,851.90
Total spending:$ 34,211.26

Spending rank for all House races: 67

Results
Jim Newberger (R)* 68.88%
Karla Scapanski (DFL) 31.02%
*Incumbent
11B House District 11B
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 54,094.03
Spent to help Republicans:$ 33,359.30
Total spending:$ 87,453.33

Spending rank for all House races: 36

Results
Jason Rarick (R)* 60.4%
Tom Jones (DFL) 39.45%
*Incumbent
34A House District 34A
Spending
Spent to help Republicans:$ 12,247.31
Spent to help Democrats:$ 7,898.02
Total spending:$ 20,145.33

Spending rank for all House races: 103

Results
Joyce Peppin (R)* 65.9%
Dave Craig (DFL) 33.95%
*Incumbent
36A House District 36A
Spending
Spent to help Republicans:$ 19,744.47
Spent to help Democrats:$ 16,376.29
Total spending:$ 36,120.76

Spending rank for all House races: 65

Results
Mark W. Uglem (R)* 58.21%
Kevin Parker (DFL) 41.56%
*Incumbent
36B House District 36B
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 50,411.79
Spent to help Republicans:$ 31,145.58
Total spending:$ 81,557.37

Spending rank for all House races: 38

Results
Melissa Hortman (DFL)* 55.66%
Peter Crema (R) 44.11%
*Incumbent
37A House District 37A
Spending
Spent to help Republicans:$ 77,616.22
Spent to help Democrats:$ 53,142.60
Total spending:$ 130,758.82

Spending rank for all House races: 27

Results
Erin Koegel (DFL) 47.17%
Anthony Wilder (R) 44.49%
37B House District 37B
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 313,001.78
Spent to help Republicans:$ 43,118.47
Total spending:$ 356,120.25

Spending rank for all House races: 18

Results
Nolan West (R) 50.26%
Susan Witt (DFL) 49.52%
38A House District 38A
Spending
Spent to help Republicans:$ 23,010.11
Spent to help Democrats:$ 10,638.78
Total spending:$ 33,648.89

Spending rank for all House races: 69

Results
Linda Runbeck (R)* 61.4%
Kevin Fogarty (DFL) 38.51%
*Incumbent
38B House District 38B
Spending
Spent to help Republicans:$ 45,936.69
Spent to help Democrats:$ 17,557.08
Total spending:$ 63,493.77

Spending rank for all House races: 43

Results
Matt Dean (R)* 56.94%
Ami Wazlawik (DFL) 42.95%
*Incumbent
39A House District 39A
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 15,000.03
Spent to help Republicans:$ 10,649.82
Total spending:$ 25,649.85

Spending rank for all House races: 92

Results
Bob Dettmer (R)* 61.43%
Jody W. Anderson (DFL) 38.48%
*Incumbent
12B House District 12B
Spending
Spent to help Republicans:$ 103,716.44
Spent to help Democrats:$ 0.00
Total spending:$ 103,716.44

Spending rank for all House races: 32

Results
Paul Anderson (R)* 98.23%
*Incumbent
13A House District 13A
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 21,773.08
Spent to help Republicans:$ 13,572.33
Total spending:$ 35,345.41

Spending rank for all House races: 66

Results
Jeff Howe (R)* 66.02%
Anne Buckvold (DFL) 33.9%
*Incumbent
13B House District 13B
Spending
Spent to help Republicans:$ 13,743.23
Spent to help Democrats:$ 5,893.37
Total spending:$ 19,636.60

Spending rank for all House races: 104

Results
Tim O'Driscoll (R)* 69.63%
Matthew Crouse (DFL) 30.25%
*Incumbent
15A House District 15A
Spending
Spent to help Republicans:$ 22,401.01
Spent to help Democrats:$ 15,825.80
Total spending:$ 38,226.81

Spending rank for all House races: 61

Results
Sondra Erickson (R)* 63.69%
Kent Lestrud (DFL) 36.05%
*Incumbent
32A House District 32A
Spending
Spent to help Republicans:$ 17,510.07
Spent to help Democrats:$ 10,839.89
Total spending:$ 28,349.96

Spending rank for all House races: 83

Results
Brian Johnson (R)* 63%
Paul Gammel (DFL) 36.79%
*Incumbent
34B House District 34B
Spending
Spent to help Republicans:$ 29,545.15
Spent to help Democrats:$ 9,283.97
Total spending:$ 38,829.12

Spending rank for all House races: 59

Results
Dennis Smith (R)* 55.83%
Kristin Bahner (DFL) 43.95%
*Incumbent
40A House District 40A
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 8,403.44
Spent to help Republicans:$ 0.00
Total spending:$ 8,403.44

Spending rank for all House races: 128

Results
Michael Nelson (DFL)* 96.39%
*Incumbent
40B House District 40B
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 24,227.11
Spent to help Republicans:$ 9,722.04
Total spending:$ 33,949.15

Spending rank for all House races: 68

Results
Debra Hilstrom (DFL)* 69.24%
Mali Marvin (R) 30.24%
*Incumbent
41A House District 41A
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 13,257.10
Spent to help Republicans:$ 0.00
Total spending:$ 13,257.10

Spending rank for all House races: 115

Results
Connie Bernardy (DFL)* 60.38%
Ryan Evanson (R) 39.43%
*Incumbent
41B House District 41B
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 15,810.23
Spent to help Republicans:$ 10,182.10
Total spending:$ 25,992.33

Spending rank for all House races: 90

Results
Mary Kunesh-Podein (DFL) 63.24%
Camden J. Pike (R) 36.5%
42A House District 42A
Spending
Spent to help Republicans:$ 210,876.01
Spent to help Democrats:$ 129,149.90
Total spending:$ 340,025.91

Spending rank for all House races: 20

Results
Randy Jessup (R) 50.18%
Barb Yarusso (DFL)* 49.64%
*Incumbent
42B House District 42B
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 43,605.55
Spent to help Republicans:$ 8,989.66
Total spending:$ 52,595.21

Spending rank for all House races: 47

Results
Jamie Becker-Finn (DFL) 56.9%
Tracy Nelson (R) 42.92%
43A House District 43A
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 26,683.93
Spent to help Republicans:$ 13,885.63
Total spending:$ 40,569.56

Spending rank for all House races: 56

Results
Peter M Fischer (DFL)* 54.95%
Bob Cardinal (R) 44.84%
*Incumbent
17A House District 17A
Spending
Spent to help Republicans:$ 93,573.71
Spent to help Democrats:$ 89,916.17
Total spending:$ 183,489.88

Spending rank for all House races: 24

Results
Tim Miller (R)* 59.01%
Andrew Falk (DFL) 40.91%
*Incumbent
17B House District 17B
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 365,221.38
Spent to help Republicans:$ 337,004.34
Total spending:$ 702,225.72

Spending rank for all House races: 7

Results
Dave Baker (R)* 59.51%
Mary Sawatzky (DFL) 40.36%
*Incumbent
14A House District 14A
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 430,466.28
Spent to help Republicans:$ 288,844.59
Total spending:$ 719,310.87

Spending rank for all House races: 6

Results
Tama Theis (R)* 54.65%
Aric Putnam (DFL) 45.17%
*Incumbent
14B House District 14B
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 532,528.52
Spent to help Republicans:$ 491,708.11
Total spending:$ 1,024,236.63

Spending rank for all House races: 1

Results
Jim Knoblach (R)* 51.2%
Zachary "Zach" Dorholt (DFL) 48.55%
*Incumbent
31A House District 31A
Spending
Spent to help Republicans:$ 68,114.70
Spent to help Democrats:$ 20,105.32
Total spending:$ 88,220.02

Spending rank for all House races: 35

Results
Kurt Daudt (R)* 70.33%
Sarah Udvig (DFL) 29.47%
*Incumbent
44A House District 44A
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 400,721.60
Spent to help Republicans:$ 241,346.97
Total spending:$ 642,068.57

Spending rank for all House races: 10

Results
Sarah Anderson (R)* 54.04%
Ginny Klevorn (DFL) 45.82%
*Incumbent
45A House District 45A
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 26,811.22
Spent to help Republicans:$ 12,541.74
Total spending:$ 39,352.96

Spending rank for all House races: 58

Results
Lyndon R. Carlson (DFL)* 56.8%
Richard Lieberman (R) 42.94%
*Incumbent
45B House District 45B
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 14,696.53
Spent to help Republicans:$ 2,014.66
Total spending:$ 16,711.19

Spending rank for all House races: 109

Results
Mike Freiberg (DFL)* 68.04%
Alma J. Wetzker (R) 31.65%
*Incumbent
59A House District 59A
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 39,822.81
Spent to help Republicans:$ 11,215.09
Total spending:$ 51,037.90

Spending rank for all House races: 49

Results
Fue Lee (DFL) 80.62%
Jessica Newville (R) 18.6%
60A House District 60A
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 12,624.01
Spent to help Republicans:$ 0.00
Total spending:$ 12,624.01

Spending rank for all House races: 117

Results
Diane Loeffler (DFL)* 73.55%
*Incumbent
66A House District 66A
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 8,548.47
Spent to help Republicans:$ 7,725.18
Total spending:$ 16,273.65

Spending rank for all House races: 111

Results
Alice Hausman (DFL)* 68.41%
Jon Heyer (R) 31.45%
*Incumbent
66B House District 66B
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 2,421.11
Spent to help Republicans:$ 0.00
Total spending:$ 2,421.11

Spending rank for all House races: 132

Results
John Lesch (DFL)* 79.73%
William P. Brownell (R) 19.8%
*Incumbent
67A House District 67A
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 20,932.79
Spent to help Republicans:$ 348.41
Total spending:$ 21,281.20

Spending rank for all House races: 99

Results
Tim Mahoney (DFL)* 76.34%
Andrew Livingston (R) 23.2%
*Incumbent
43B House District 43B
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 5,763.95
Spent to help Republicans:$ 0.00
Total spending:$ 5,763.95

Spending rank for all House races: 130

Results
Leon M. Lillie (DFL)* 59.52%
Nathan Hansen (R) 40.23%
*Incumbent
39B House District 39B
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 40,701.27
Spent to help Republicans:$ 31,814.52
Total spending:$ 72,515.79

Spending rank for all House races: 41

Results
Kathy Lohmer (R)* 59.02%
Alan Kantrud (DFL) 40.92%
*Incumbent
16A House District 16A
Spending
Spent to help Republicans:$ 15,895.44
Spent to help Democrats:$ 14,012.71
Total spending:$ 29,908.15

Spending rank for all House races: 79

Results
Chris Swedzinski (R)* 68.1%
Al' Kruse (DFL) 31.81%
*Incumbent
18A House District 18A
Spending
Spent to help Republicans:$ 12,090.66
Spent to help Democrats:$ 0.00
Total spending:$ 12,090.66

Spending rank for all House races: 120

Results
Dean Urdahl (R)* 97.81%
*Incumbent
29A House District 29A
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 12,023.56
Spent to help Republicans:$ 11,073.34
Total spending:$ 23,096.90

Spending rank for all House races: 95

Results
Joseph McDonald (R)* 69.62%
Cortney Phillips (DFL) 30.26%
*Incumbent
29B House District 29B
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 10,293.63
Spent to help Republicans:$ 7,841.64
Total spending:$ 18,135.27

Spending rank for all House races: 107

Results
Marion O'Neill (R)* 65.53%
Steve Kilburn (DFL) 34.35%
*Incumbent
44B House District 44B
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 73,247.13
Spent to help Republicans:$ 34,948.78
Total spending:$ 108,195.91

Spending rank for all House races: 31

Results
Jon Applebaum (DFL)* 54.89%
Patti Meier (R) 44.89%
*Incumbent
46A House District 46A
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 28,945.94
Spent to help Republicans:$ 4,069.58
Total spending:$ 33,015.52

Spending rank for all House races: 71

Results
Peggy Flanagan (DFL)* 63.85%
Anne Taylor (R) 35.84%
*Incumbent
59B House District 59B
Spending
Spent to help Republicans:$ 8,106.30
Spent to help Democrats:$ 5,965.40
Total spending:$ 14,071.70

Spending rank for all House races: 114

Results
Raymond Dehn (DFL)* 76.56%
Margaret E. Martin (R) 22.85%
*Incumbent
60B House District 60B
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 18,758.86
Spent to help Republicans:$ 483.20
Total spending:$ 19,242.06

Spending rank for all House races: 106

Results
Ilhan Omar (DFL) 79.77%
Abdimalik Askar (R) 19.21%
64A House District 64A
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 28,782.36
Spent to help Republicans:$ 3,766.75
Total spending:$ 32,549.11

Spending rank for all House races: 72

Results
Erin Murphy (DFL)* 79.7%
Riley Horan (R) 20.03%
*Incumbent
65A House District 65A
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 30,832.37
Spent to help Republicans:$ 6,389.69
Total spending:$ 37,222.06

Spending rank for all House races: 64

Results
Rena Moran (DFL)* 82.79%
Monique Giordana (R) 16.76%
*Incumbent
67B House District 67B
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 10,462.87
Spent to help Republicans:$ 6,130.35
Total spending:$ 16,593.22

Spending rank for all House races: 110

Results
Sheldon Johnson (DFL)* 69.35%
Lisa Thompson (R) 24.59%
*Incumbent
53A House District 53A
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 32,375.52
Spent to help Republicans:$ 11,567.52
Total spending:$ 43,943.04

Spending rank for all House races: 54

Results
JoAnn Ward (DFL)* 59.03%
Andy Turonie (R) 40.8%
*Incumbent
16B House District 16B
Spending
Spent to help Republicans:$ 20,143.29
Spent to help Democrats:$ 8,358.38
Total spending:$ 28,501.67

Spending rank for all House races: 82

Results
Paul Torkelson (R)* 73.06%
Austin Grossenburg (DFL) 26.82%
*Incumbent
18B House District 18B
Spending
Spent to help Republicans:$ 28,983.36
Spent to help Democrats:$ 16,405.68
Total spending:$ 45,389.04

Spending rank for all House races: 53

Results
Glenn Gruenhagen (R)* 67.8%
Darrel H. Mosel (DFL) 32.08%
*Incumbent
47A House District 47A
Spending
Spent to help Republicans:$ 25,152.21
Spent to help Democrats:$ 3,445.99
Total spending:$ 28,598.20

Spending rank for all House races: 80

Results
Jim Nash (R)* 71.5%
Sean White (DFL) 28.4%
*Incumbent
33A House District 33A
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 21,932.22
Spent to help Republicans:$ 8,106.49
Total spending:$ 30,038.71

Spending rank for all House races: 78

Results
Jerry Hertaus (R)* 67.76%
Norrie Thomas (DFL) 32.05%
*Incumbent
33B House District 33B
Spending
Spent to help Republicans:$ 11,749.83
Spent to help Democrats:$ 11,167.26
Total spending:$ 22,917.09

Spending rank for all House races: 96

Results
Cindy Pugh (R)* 60.34%
Brad Brothen (DFL) 39.51%
*Incumbent
46B House District 46B
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 19,168.92
Spent to help Republicans:$ 100.00
Total spending:$ 19,268.92

Spending rank for all House races: 105

Results
Cheryl Youakim (DFL)* 68.67%
Bryan Bjornson (R) 30.97%
*Incumbent
61A House District 61A
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 10,077.80
Spent to help Republicans:$ 367.15
Total spending:$ 10,444.95

Spending rank for all House races: 125

Results
Frank Hornstein (DFL)* 79.16%
Brian Rosenblatt (R) 20.53%
*Incumbent
62A House District 62A
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 9,475.72
Spent to help Republicans:$ 303.99
Total spending:$ 9,779.71

Spending rank for all House races: 127

Results
Karen Clark (DFL)* 88.26%
Claire Leiter (R) 11.16%
*Incumbent
63A House District 63A
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 10,565.44
Spent to help Republicans:$ 729.19
Total spending:$ 11,294.63

Spending rank for all House races: 122

Results
Jim Davnie (DFL)* 85.3%
Kyle Bragg (R) 14.35%
*Incumbent
65B House District 65B
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 7,205.18
Spent to help Republicans:$ 0.00
Total spending:$ 7,205.18

Spending rank for all House races: 129

Results
Carlos Mariani (DFL)* 77.03%
Margaret Mary Stokely (R) 22.56%
*Incumbent
53B House District 53B
Spending
Spent to help Republicans:$ 64,969.44
Spent to help Democrats:$ 44,568.92
Total spending:$ 109,538.36

Spending rank for all House races: 30

Results
Kelly Fenton (R)* 56.35%
Alberder Gillespie (DFL) 43.56%
*Incumbent
54B House District 54B
Spending
Spent to help Republicans:$ 307,855.62
Spent to help Democrats:$ 304,896.22
Total spending:$ 612,751.84

Spending rank for all House races: 12

Results
Tony Jurgens (R) 55.27%
Don Slaten (DFL) 44.53%
19A House District 19A
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 29,237.51
Spent to help Republicans:$ 12,520.00
Total spending:$ 41,757.51

Spending rank for all House races: 55

Results
Clark Johnson (DFL)* 52.68%
Kim Spears (R) 47.23%
*Incumbent
20A House District 20A
Spending
Spent to help Republicans:$ 22,854.99
Spent to help Democrats:$ 15,287.59
Total spending:$ 38,142.58

Spending rank for all House races: 62

Results
Bob Vogel (R)* 60.81%
Jim Connelly (DFL) 39.07%
*Incumbent
20B House District 20B
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 24,369.10
Spent to help Republicans:$ 24,075.36
Total spending:$ 48,444.46

Spending rank for all House races: 52

Results
David Bly (DFL)* 54.15%
Aramis Wells (R) 45.77%
*Incumbent
58B House District 58B
Spending
Spent to help Republicans:$ 12,003.96
Spent to help Democrats:$ 9,190.43
Total spending:$ 21,194.39

Spending rank for all House races: 100

Results
Patrick Garofalo (R)* 64.78%
Marla Vagts (DFL) 35.08%
*Incumbent
21A House District 21A
Spending
Spent to help Republicans:$ 405,238.05
Spent to help Democrats:$ 401,981.01
Total spending:$ 807,219.06

Spending rank for all House races: 3

Results
Barb Haley (R) 54.99%
Lisa Bayley (DFL) 44.88%
21B House District 21B
Spending
Spent to help Republicans:$ 17,255.12
Spent to help Democrats:$ 9,276.66
Total spending:$ 26,531.78

Spending rank for all House races: 89

Results
Steve Drazkowski (R)* 65.26%
Elise Diesslin (DFL) 34.66%
*Incumbent
48A House District 48A
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 402,814.35
Spent to help Republicans:$ 269,187.95
Total spending:$ 672,002.30

Spending rank for all House races: 8

Results
Laurie Pryor (DFL)* 51.66%
Mary Shapiro (R) 48.18%
*Incumbent
49A House District 49A
Spending
Spent to help Republicans:$ 384,449.16
Spent to help Democrats:$ 144,093.15
Total spending:$ 528,542.31

Spending rank for all House races: 14

Results
Dario Anselmo (R) 51.04%
Ron Erhardt (DFL)* 48.79%
*Incumbent
61B House District 61B
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 37,708.46
Spent to help Republicans:$ 0.00
Total spending:$ 37,708.46

Spending rank for all House races: 63

Results
Paul Thissen (DFL)* 80.4%
Tom Gallagher (R) 19.36%
*Incumbent
62B House District 62B
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 845.43
Spent to help Republicans:$ 0.00
Total spending:$ 845.43

Spending rank for all House races: 133

Results
Susan Allen (DFL)* 98.45%
*Incumbent
63B House District 63B
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 10,508.94
Spent to help Republicans:$ 0.00
Total spending:$ 10,508.94

Spending rank for all House races: 124

Results
Jean Wagenius (DFL)* 76.19%
Frank Pafko (R) 23.43%
*Incumbent
64B House District 64B
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 20,889.73
Spent to help Republicans:$ 282.61
Total spending:$ 21,172.34

Spending rank for all House races: 101

Results
Dave Pinto (DFL)* 74.77%
Emory K. Dively (R) 25.02%
*Incumbent
52A House District 52A
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 26,887.55
Spent to help Republicans:$ 0.00
Total spending:$ 26,887.55

Spending rank for all House races: 87

Results
Rick Hansen (DFL)* 63.33%
Larry Sachi (R) 36.55%
*Incumbent
54A House District 54A
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 36,028.85
Spent to help Republicans:$ 15,858.86
Total spending:$ 51,887.71

Spending rank for all House races: 48

Results
Keith Franke (R) 51.43%
Jen Peterson (DFL) 48.46%
22B House District 22B
Spending
Spent to help Republicans:$ 12,703.32
Spent to help Democrats:$ 11,608.73
Total spending:$ 24,312.05

Spending rank for all House races: 93

Results
Rod Hamilton (R)* 69.48%
Kirby G. Kruse (DFL) 30.43%
*Incumbent
19B House District 19B
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 11,294.56
Spent to help Republicans:$ 911.93
Total spending:$ 12,206.49

Spending rank for all House races: 119

Results
Jack Considine (DFL)* 59.55%
Adam Isakson (R) 40.23%
*Incumbent
23B House District 23B
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 123,432.38
Spent to help Republicans:$ 16,580.05
Total spending:$ 140,012.43

Spending rank for all House races: 25

Results
Tony Cornish (R)* 66.91%
Josh Haseman (DFL) 32.99%
*Incumbent
25B House District 25B
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 468,316.39
Spent to help Republicans:$ 181,560.34
Total spending:$ 649,876.73

Spending rank for all House races: 9

Results
Duane Sauke (DFL) 51.79%
Fran Bradley (R) 48.08%
24B House District 24B
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 425,495.27
Spent to help Republicans:$ 309,991.87
Total spending:$ 735,487.14

Spending rank for all House races: 5

Results
Brian Daniels (R)* 58.39%
Patti Fritz (DFL) 41.47%
*Incumbent
25A House District 25A
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 15,997.04
Spent to help Republicans:$ 12,253.39
Total spending:$ 28,250.43

Spending rank for all House races: 84

Results
Duane Quam (R)* 59.96%
Linda (Wally) Walbruch (DFL) 39.94%
*Incumbent
28A House District 28A
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 25,689.92
Spent to help Republicans:$ 0.00
Total spending:$ 25,689.92

Spending rank for all House races: 91

Results
Gene Pelowski Jr. (DFL)* 63.15%
Adam Pace (R) 36.72%
*Incumbent
47B House District 47B
Spending
Spent to help Republicans:$ 2,038.06
Spent to help Democrats:$ 1,202.28
Total spending:$ 3,240.34

Spending rank for all House races: 131

Results
Joe Hoppe (R)* 62.47%
Jane Montemayor (DFL) 37.46%
*Incumbent
48B House District 48B
Spending
Spent to help Republicans:$ 9,044.96
Spent to help Democrats:$ 6,979.90
Total spending:$ 16,024.86

Spending rank for all House races: 112

Results
Jenifer W. Loon (R)* 62.25%
Ben Sherlock (DFL) 37.57%
*Incumbent
49B House District 49B
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 71,947.28
Spent to help Republicans:$ 67,396.50
Total spending:$ 139,343.78

Spending rank for all House races: 26

Results
Paul Rosenthal (DFL)* 55.38%
Max Rymer (R) 44.39%
*Incumbent
50A House District 50A
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 10,290.70
Spent to help Republicans:$ 0.00
Total spending:$ 10,290.70

Spending rank for all House races: 126

Results
Linda Slocum (DFL)* 63.09%
Tim Johnson (R) 36.53%
*Incumbent
50B House District 50B
Spending
Spent to help Republicans:$ 117,043.60
Spent to help Democrats:$ 80,634.28
Total spending:$ 197,677.88

Spending rank for all House races: 23

Results
Andrew Carlson (DFL)* 53.54%
Chad Anderson (R) 46.2%
*Incumbent
51A House District 51A
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 32,384.20
Spent to help Republicans:$ 5,971.96
Total spending:$ 38,356.16

Spending rank for all House races: 60

Results
Sandra Masin (DFL)* 57.64%
Brad Gerten (R) 41.99%
*Incumbent
51B House District 51B
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 68,275.33
Spent to help Republicans:$ 7,564.00
Total spending:$ 75,839.33

Spending rank for all House races: 40

Results
Laurie Halverson (DFL)* 56.5%
Pat Hammond (R) 43.35%
*Incumbent
52B House District 52B
Spending
Spent to help Republicans:$ 271,968.30
Spent to help Democrats:$ 118,385.55
Total spending:$ 390,353.85

Spending rank for all House races: 17

Results
Regina Barr (R) 50.17%
Mary T'Kach (DFL) 49.62%
22A House District 22A
Spending
Spent to help Republicans:$ 21,855.86
Spent to help Democrats:$ 650.93
Total spending:$ 22,506.79

Spending rank for all House races: 98

Results
Joe Schomacker (R)* 71.98%
Laura Woods (DFL) 27.98%
*Incumbent
23A House District 23A
Spending
Spent to help Republicans:$ 22,084.02
Spent to help Democrats:$ 11,449.70
Total spending:$ 33,533.72

Spending rank for all House races: 70

Results
Bob Gunther (R)* 68.14%
Zac Huntley (DFL) 31.78%
*Incumbent
24A House District 24A
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 81,891.73
Spent to help Republicans:$ 47,625.81
Total spending:$ 129,517.54

Spending rank for all House races: 28

Results
John Petersburg (R)* 56.87%
Bev Cashman (DFL) 43.02%
*Incumbent
26B House District 26B
Spending
Spent to help Republicans:$ 33,024.40
Spent to help Democrats:$ 26,779.58
Total spending:$ 59,803.98

Spending rank for all House races: 46

Results
Nels T. Pierson (R)* 59.14%
John Wayne Austinson (DFL) 40.73%
*Incumbent
26A House District 26A
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 22,549.44
Spent to help Republicans:$ 4,191.58
Total spending:$ 26,741.02

Spending rank for all House races: 88

Results
Tina Liebling (DFL)* 59.89%
Will Waggoner (R) 39.98%
*Incumbent
27A House District 27A
Spending
Spent to help Republicans:$ 187,343.25
Spent to help Democrats:$ 112,378.47
Total spending:$ 299,721.72

Spending rank for all House races: 21

Results
Peggy Bennett (R)* 61.71%
Gary Schindler (DFL) 38.21%
*Incumbent
27B House District 27B
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 29,199.76
Spent to help Republicans:$ 21,034.35
Total spending:$ 50,234.11

Spending rank for all House races: 50

Results
Jeanne Poppe (DFL)* 53.61%
Dennis R Schminke (R) 46.3%
*Incumbent
28B House District 28B
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 473,166.53
Spent to help Republicans:$ 264,493.92
Total spending:$ 737,660.45

Spending rank for all House races: 4

Results
Gregory M. Davids (R)* 54.54%
Thomas Trehus (DFL) 45.32%
*Incumbent
55A House District 55A
Spending
Spent to help Republicans:$ 18,387.24
Spent to help Democrats:$ 14,049.57
Total spending:$ 32,436.81

Spending rank for all House races: 73

Results
Bob Loonan (R)* 55.78%
Mary Hernandez (DFL) 43.99%
*Incumbent
55B House District 55B
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 10,852.87
Spent to help Republicans:$ 3,656.25
Total spending:$ 14,509.12

Spending rank for all House races: 113

Results
Tony Albright (R)* 69.05%
Cecilia Haakenson (DFL) 30.79%
*Incumbent
56A House District 56A
Spending
Spent to help Republicans:$ 17,738.06
Spent to help Democrats:$ 9,862.33
Total spending:$ 27,600.39

Spending rank for all House races: 86

Results
Drew Christensen (R)* 55.96%
Jared Christiansen (DFL) 43.89%
*Incumbent
56B House District 56B
Spending
Spent to help Republicans:$ 532,569.87
Spent to help Democrats:$ 459,394.44
Total spending:$ 991,964.31

Spending rank for all House races: 2

Results
Roz Peterson (R)* 52.37%
Lindsey Port (DFL) 47.46%
*Incumbent
58A House District 58A
Spending
Spent to help Republicans:$ 28,113.87
Spent to help Democrats:$ 21,881.02
Total spending:$ 49,994.89

Spending rank for all House races: 51

Results
Jon Koznick (R)* 60.65%
LeAnn Weikle (DFL) 39.22%
*Incumbent
57A House District 57A
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 377,523.06
Spent to help Republicans:$ 240,583.46
Total spending:$ 618,106.52

Spending rank for all House races: 11

Results
Erin Maye Quade (DFL) 52.23%
Ali Jimenez-Hopper (R) 47.52%
57B House District 57B
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 322,122.00
Spent to help Republicans:$ 235,330.39
Total spending:$ 557,452.39

Spending rank for all House races: 13

Results
Anna Wills (R)* 53.66%
John Huot (DFL) 46.18%
*Incumbent

Legend

  •   Up to $1,024,236
  •   Up to $819,389
  •   Up to $614,541
  •   Up to $409,694
  •   Up to $204,847
  •   No spending data reported

There’s also the matter of where the money came from: While DFL funding and strategizing largely came from the party, Republicans’ playbook, which relied more heavily on independent expenditure groups, may have allowed them to be more nimble, said Minnesota DFL Chairman Ken Martin.

Despite the attention cash gets, the races with the most spending weren’t always the most competitive. Take House District 17B rematch between incumbent Republican Dave Baker and challenger Mary Sawatzky, where more than $700,000 was spent in total. Baker held onto his seat with a 19 percentage point margin. Nor did candidates who outspent their opponents by a large margin always win.

Candidates, parties and interest groups have a finite amount of money, and they tend to use it where they think it’ll make the biggest difference.

Many of the closest races did see a lot of spending: More than $1 million was spent, for example, in the Minnetonka Senate District 44 open seat formerly held by DFLer Terri Bonoff — it was the most expensive legislative contest last year. That race, between Republican Paul Anderson and DFLer Deb Calvert, resulted in Anderson winning by 0.4 percentage points, following a recount.

Total spending in Minnesota Minnesota Senate races
Greater MinnesotaMetro
2 Senate District 2
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 536,255.58
Spent to help Republicans:$ 257,689.93
Total spending:$ 793,945.51

Spending rank for all Senate races: 6

Results
Paul Utke (R) 56.6%
Rod Skoe (DFL)* 43.29%
*Incumbent
1 Senate District 1
Spending
Spent to help Republicans:$ 82,960.31
Spent to help Democrats:$ 53,660.06
Total spending:$ 136,620.37

Spending rank for all Senate races: 18

Results
Mark Johnson (R) 61.41%
Kip Fontaine (DFL) 38.54%
4 Senate District 4
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 278,656.28
Spent to help Republicans:$ 239,038.86
Total spending:$ 517,695.14

Spending rank for all Senate races: 11

Results
Kent Eken (DFL)* 55.13%
James Leiman (R) 44.74%
*Incumbent
5 Senate District 5
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 38,694.04
Spent to help Republicans:$ 21,709.98
Total spending:$ 60,404.02

Spending rank for all Senate races: 37

Results
Justin Eichorn (R) 50.59%
Tom Saxhaug (DFL)* 49.21%
*Incumbent
6 Senate District 6
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 47,859.87
Spent to help Republicans:$ 14,742.30
Total spending:$ 62,602.17

Spending rank for all Senate races: 35

Results
David J Tomassoni (DFL)* 62.69%
Skeeter Tomczak (R) 37.13%
*Incumbent
3 Senate District 3
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 52,889.09
Spent to help Republicans:$ 0.00
Total spending:$ 52,889.09

Spending rank for all Senate races: 42

Results
Thomas (Tom) Bakk (DFL)* 61.36%
Jennifer L. Havlick (R) 38.49%
*Incumbent
8 Senate District 8
Spending
Spent to help Republicans:$ 119,596.47
Spent to help Democrats:$ 24,152.11
Total spending:$ 143,748.58

Spending rank for all Senate races: 17

Results
Bill Ingebrigtsen (R)* 66.26%
Shawn Olson (DFL) 33.67%
*Incumbent
9 Senate District 9
Spending
Spent to help Republicans:$ 55,881.71
Spent to help Democrats:$ 17,380.79
Total spending:$ 73,262.50

Spending rank for all Senate races: 30

Results
Paul Gazelka (R)* 71.19%
Jason Weinerman (DFL) 28.71%
*Incumbent
10 Senate District 10
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 30,454.22
Spent to help Republicans:$ 18,226.80
Total spending:$ 48,681.02

Spending rank for all Senate races: 47

Results
Carrie Ruud (R)* 64.31%
Tiffany Stenglein (DFL) 35.56%
*Incumbent
11 Senate District 11
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 17,882.52
Spent to help Republicans:$ 0.00
Total spending:$ 17,882.52

Spending rank for all Senate races: 65

Results
Tony Lourey (DFL)* 54.5%
Michael Cummins (R) 45.36%
*Incumbent
7 Senate District 7
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 29,311.69
Spent to help Republicans:$ 6,257.77
Total spending:$ 35,569.46

Spending rank for all Senate races: 51

Results
Erik Simonson (DFL) 65.5%
Donna Bergstrom (R) 34.25%
35 Senate District 35
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 32,993.26
Spent to help Republicans:$ 30,661.72
Total spending:$ 63,654.98

Spending rank for all Senate races: 33

Results
Jim Abeler (R)* 67.47%
Roger Johnson (DFL) 32.35%
*Incumbent
12 Senate District 12
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 63,953.22
Spent to help Republicans:$ 56,421.10
Total spending:$ 120,374.32

Spending rank for all Senate races: 21

Results
Torrey Westrom (R)* 67.6%
Russ Hinrichs (DFL) 32.34%
*Incumbent
13 Senate District 13
Spending
Spent to help Republicans:$ 20,018.23
Spent to help Democrats:$ 18,180.12
Total spending:$ 38,198.35

Spending rank for all Senate races: 49

Results
Michelle Fischbach (R)* 68.6%
Michael Willemsen (DFL) 31.3%
*Incumbent
14 Senate District 14
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 577,889.46
Spent to help Republicans:$ 270,735.46
Total spending:$ 848,624.92

Spending rank for all Senate races: 4

Results
Jerry Relph (R) 47.4%
Dan Wolgamott (DFL) 47.02%
15 Senate District 15
Spending
Spent to help Republicans:$ 24,445.37
Spent to help Democrats:$ 5,292.17
Total spending:$ 29,737.54

Spending rank for all Senate races: 58

Results
Andrew Mathews (R) 70.7%
Chilah Brown (DFL) 29.08%
32 Senate District 32
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 151,923.05
Spent to help Republicans:$ 28,608.42
Total spending:$ 180,531.47

Spending rank for all Senate races: 15

Results
Mark Koran (R) 56.53%
Tim Nelson (DFL) 43.33%
34 Senate District 34
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 30,099.04
Spent to help Republicans:$ 20,840.25
Total spending:$ 50,939.29

Spending rank for all Senate races: 44

Results
Warren Limmer (R)* 60.18%
Bonnie Westlin (DFL) 39.66%
*Incumbent
36 Senate District 36
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 581,562.13
Spent to help Republicans:$ 159,223.05
Total spending:$ 740,785.18

Spending rank for all Senate races: 9

Results
John Hoffman (DFL)* 51%
Jeffrey Lunde (R) 48.77%
*Incumbent
37 Senate District 37
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 410,726.23
Spent to help Republicans:$ 22,862.19
Total spending:$ 433,588.42

Spending rank for all Senate races: 12

Results
Jerry Newton (DFL) 51.41%
Brad Sanford (R) 48.41%
38 Senate District 38
Spending
Spent to help Republicans:$ 25,215.51
Spent to help Democrats:$ 24,698.85
Total spending:$ 49,914.36

Spending rank for all Senate races: 46

Results
Roger Chamberlain (R)* 58.61%
Pat Davern (DFL) 41.28%
*Incumbent
16 Senate District 16
Spending
Spent to help Republicans:$ 60,406.37
Spent to help Democrats:$ 21,472.85
Total spending:$ 81,879.22

Spending rank for all Senate races: 27

Results
Gary Dahms (R)* 67.29%
James Kanne (DFL) 32.63%
*Incumbent
29 Senate District 29
Spending
Spent to help Republicans:$ 23,495.57
Spent to help Democrats:$ 22,605.34
Total spending:$ 46,100.91

Spending rank for all Senate races: 48

Results
Bruce Anderson (R)* 66%
Janice Holter Kittok (DFL) 33.89%
*Incumbent
30 Senate District 30
Spending
Spent to help Republicans:$ 23,548.55
Spent to help Democrats:$ 1,208.78
Total spending:$ 24,757.33

Spending rank for all Senate races: 61

Results
Mary Kiffmeyer (R)* 71.71%
P.J. LaCroix (DFL) 28.18%
*Incumbent
31 Senate District 31
Spending
Spent to help Republicans:$ 22,163.69
Spent to help Democrats:$ 10,641.22
Total spending:$ 32,804.91

Spending rank for all Senate races: 54

Results
Michelle Benson (R)* 67.96%
Ricky Englund (DFL) 31.91%
*Incumbent
33 Senate District 33
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 34,016.02
Spent to help Republicans:$ 32,421.90
Total spending:$ 66,437.92

Spending rank for all Senate races: 31

Results
David Osmek (R)* 59.59%
Sherrie Pugh (DFL) 34.24%
*Incumbent
40 Senate District 40
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 14,432.39
Spent to help Republicans:$ 11,433.79
Total spending:$ 25,866.18

Spending rank for all Senate races: 60

Results
Chris Eaton (DFL)* 67.84%
Robert Marvin (R) 31.77%
*Incumbent
41 Senate District 41
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 33,926.39
Spent to help Republicans:$ 0.00
Total spending:$ 33,926.39

Spending rank for all Senate races: 53

Results
Carolyn Laine (DFL) 61.04%
Gary R. Johnson (R) 38.77%
42 Senate District 42
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 54,934.71
Spent to help Republicans:$ 33,451.06
Total spending:$ 88,385.77

Spending rank for all Senate races: 25

Results
Jason "Ike" Isaacson (DFL) 54.21%
Candy Sina (R) 45.62%
39 Senate District 39
Spending
Spent to help Republicans:$ 61,997.03
Spent to help Democrats:$ 23,128.47
Total spending:$ 85,125.50

Spending rank for all Senate races: 26

Results
Karin Housley (R)* 61.29%
Sten Hakanson (DFL) 38.6%
*Incumbent
43 Senate District 43
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 53,154.02
Spent to help Republicans:$ 0.00
Total spending:$ 53,154.02

Spending rank for all Senate races: 41

Results
Charles "Chuck" Wiger (DFL)* 56.95%
Bob Zick (R) 35.43%
*Incumbent
17 Senate District 17
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 487,378.53
Spent to help Republicans:$ 298,595.31
Total spending:$ 785,973.84

Spending rank for all Senate races: 7

Results
Andrew Lang (R) 57.25%
Lyle Koenen (DFL)* 42.67%
*Incumbent
18 Senate District 18
Spending
Spent to help Republicans:$ 42,830.04
Spent to help Democrats:$ 20,275.50
Total spending:$ 63,105.54

Spending rank for all Senate races: 34

Results
Scott J Newman (R)* 66.64%
Amy Wilde (DFL) 33.26%
*Incumbent
47 Senate District 47
Spending
Spent to help Republicans:$ 49,566.26
Spent to help Democrats:$ 3,593.91
Total spending:$ 53,160.17

Spending rank for all Senate races: 40

Results
Scott Jensen (R) 67.29%
Darryl Scarborough (DFL) 32.6%
58 Senate District 58
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 153,894.28
Spent to help Republicans:$ 66,212.77
Total spending:$ 220,107.05

Spending rank for all Senate races: 13

Results
Matt Little (DFL) 50.38%
Tim Pitcher (R) 49.53%
48 Senate District 48
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 620,057.41
Spent to help Republicans:$ 338,083.37
Total spending:$ 958,140.78

Spending rank for all Senate races: 3

Results
Steve Cwodzinski (DFL) 51.1%
David Hann (R)* 48.79%
*Incumbent
44 Senate District 44
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 607,163.85
Spent to help Republicans:$ 473,270.89
Total spending:$ 1,080,434.74

Spending rank for all Senate races: 1

Results
Paul Anderson (R) 50.13%
Deb Calvert (DFL) 49.74%
46 Senate District 46
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 13,471.25
Spent to help Republicans:$ 0.00
Total spending:$ 13,471.25

Spending rank for all Senate races: 67

Results
Ron Latz (DFL)* 96.58%
*Incumbent
45 Senate District 45
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 21,782.53
Spent to help Republicans:$ 10,248.31
Total spending:$ 32,030.84

Spending rank for all Senate races: 55

Results
Ann H. Rest (DFL)* 63.66%
Roxana Bruins (R) 36.07%
*Incumbent
59 Senate District 59
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 34,484.99
Spent to help Republicans:$ 20,838.15
Total spending:$ 55,323.14

Spending rank for all Senate races: 39

Results
Bobby Joe Champion (DFL)* 77.56%
Jennifer Carnahan (R) 22.01%
*Incumbent
60 Senate District 60
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 30,199.20
Spent to help Republicans:$ 0.00
Total spending:$ 30,199.20

Spending rank for all Senate races: 57

Results
Kari Dziedzic (DFL)* 77.53%
*Incumbent
66 Senate District 66
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 28,252.88
Spent to help Republicans:$ 2,042.94
Total spending:$ 30,295.82

Spending rank for all Senate races: 56

Results
John Marty (DFL)* 74.34%
Carolyn Jass (R) 25.39%
*Incumbent
19 Senate District 19
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 77,177.07
Spent to help Republicans:$ 28,296.09
Total spending:$ 105,473.16

Spending rank for all Senate races: 23

Results
Nick Frentz (DFL) 56.11%
Willa Dailey (R) 36.93%
20 Senate District 20
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 559,473.54
Spent to help Republicans:$ 216,435.53
Total spending:$ 775,909.07

Spending rank for all Senate races: 8

Results
Rich Draheim (R) 51.91%
Kevin L. Dahle (DFL)* 47.95%
*Incumbent
21 Senate District 21
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 612,272.40
Spent to help Republicans:$ 346,190.66
Total spending:$ 958,463.06

Spending rank for all Senate races: 2

Results
Mike Goggin (R) 54.24%
Matt Schmit (DFL)* 45.67%
*Incumbent
50 Senate District 50
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 23,191.42
Spent to help Republicans:$ 0.00
Total spending:$ 23,191.42

Spending rank for all Senate races: 63

Results
Melissa Halvorson Wiklund (DFL)* 59.53%
Kirsten Johnson (R) 40.14%
*Incumbent
49 Senate District 49
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 93,531.58
Spent to help Republicans:$ 28,925.80
Total spending:$ 122,457.38

Spending rank for all Senate races: 20

Results
Melisa Franzen (DFL)* 54.47%
Mike Lehmann (R) 45.39%
*Incumbent
61 Senate District 61
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 20,461.84
Spent to help Republicans:$ 0.00
Total spending:$ 20,461.84

Spending rank for all Senate races: 64

Results
Scott Dibble (DFL)* 81.07%
Bob "Again" Carney Jr. (R) 18.69%
*Incumbent
62 Senate District 62
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 35,304.93
Spent to help Republicans:$ 0.00
Total spending:$ 35,304.93

Spending rank for all Senate races: 52

Results
Jeff Hayden (DFL)* 87.84%
Bruce Lundeen (R) 11.58%
*Incumbent
63 Senate District 63
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 23,937.10
Spent to help Republicans:$ 0.00
Total spending:$ 23,937.10

Spending rank for all Senate races: 62

Results
Patricia Torres Ray (DFL)* 80.7%
Ron Moey (R) 19.02%
*Incumbent
64 Senate District 64
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 35,391.19
Spent to help Republicans:$ 272.80
Total spending:$ 35,663.99

Spending rank for all Senate races: 50

Results
Dick Cohen (DFL)* 76.67%
Ian Baird (R) 23.11%
*Incumbent
24 Senate District 24
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 646,775.23
Spent to help Republicans:$ 200,200.34
Total spending:$ 846,975.57

Spending rank for all Senate races: 5

Results
John Jasinski (R) 58.52%
Vicki Jensen (DFL)* 41.35%
*Incumbent
25 Senate District 25
Spending
Spent to help Republicans:$ 54,254.17
Spent to help Democrats:$ 11,627.38
Total spending:$ 65,881.55

Spending rank for all Senate races: 32

Results
David H. Senjem (R)* 63.24%
Dale Amorosia (DFL) 36.65%
*Incumbent
26 Senate District 26
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 117,728.76
Spent to help Republicans:$ 90,346.36
Total spending:$ 208,075.12

Spending rank for all Senate races: 14

Results
Carla Nelson (R)* 55.96%
Rich Wright (DFL) 43.95%
*Incumbent
51 Senate District 51
Spending
Spent to help Republicans:$ 93,030.94
Spent to help Democrats:$ 78,293.62
Total spending:$ 171,324.56

Spending rank for all Senate races: 16

Results
Jim Carlson (DFL)* 54.04%
Victor Lake (R) 45.84%
*Incumbent
52 Senate District 52
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 74,065.42
Spent to help Republicans:$ 46,091.67
Total spending:$ 120,157.09

Spending rank for all Senate races: 22

Results
Matt Klein (DFL) 57.84%
Mark Misukanis (R) 42.01%
65 Senate District 65
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 14,301.86
Spent to help Republicans:$ 0.00
Total spending:$ 14,301.86

Spending rank for all Senate races: 66

Results
Sandy Pappas (DFL)* 80.7%
Jason Delmont (R) 18.85%
*Incumbent
67 Senate District 67
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 77,437.35
Spent to help Republicans:$ 0.00
Total spending:$ 77,437.35

Spending rank for all Senate races: 29

Results
Foung Hawj (DFL)* 75.11%
Krysia Weidell (R) 24.55%
*Incumbent
53 Senate District 53
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 83,882.71
Spent to help Republicans:$ 48,326.50
Total spending:$ 132,209.21

Spending rank for all Senate races: 19

Results
Susan Kent (DFL)* 50.38%
Sharna Wahlgren (R) 49.51%
*Incumbent
54 Senate District 54
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 34,814.65
Spent to help Republicans:$ 16,751.32
Total spending:$ 51,565.97

Spending rank for all Senate races: 43

Results
Dan Schoen (DFL) 53.13%
Leilani Holmstadt (R) 46.7%
22 Senate District 22
Spending
Spent to help Republicans:$ 51,106.26
Spent to help Democrats:$ 11,283.37
Total spending:$ 62,389.63

Spending rank for all Senate races: 36

Results
Bill Weber (R)* 70.2%
Brian Abrahamson (DFL) 29.72%
*Incumbent
23 Senate District 23
Spending
Spent to help Republicans:$ 48,720.79
Spent to help Democrats:$ 2,053.29
Total spending:$ 50,774.08

Spending rank for all Senate races: 45

Results
Julie Rosen (R)* 70.81%
Barbara Ann Lake (DFL) 29.09%
*Incumbent
27 Senate District 27
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 46,103.76
Spent to help Republicans:$ 33,884.90
Total spending:$ 79,988.66

Spending rank for all Senate races: 28

Results
Dan Sparks (DFL)* 54.76%
Gene Dornink (R) 45.17%
*Incumbent
28 Senate District 28
Spending
Spent to help Republicans:$ 32,355.29
Spent to help Democrats:$ 26,121.97
Total spending:$ 58,477.26

Spending rank for all Senate races: 38

Results
Jeremy Miller (R)* 62.97%
Jon Pieper (DFL) 36.94%
*Incumbent
55 Senate District 55
Spending
Spent to help Republicans:$ 16,592.44
Spent to help Democrats:$ 10,512.51
Total spending:$ 27,104.95

Spending rank for all Senate races: 59

Results
Eric Pratt (R)* 68.53%
Ali C. Ali (DFL) 31.24%
*Incumbent
57 Senate District 57
Spending
Spent to help Democrats:$ 428,784.57
Spent to help Republicans:$ 129,000.21
Total spending:$ 557,784.78

Spending rank for all Senate races: 10

Results
Greg Clausen (DFL)* 53.06%
Cory Campbell (R) 46.81%
*Incumbent
56 Senate District 56
Spending
Spent to help Republicans:$ 50,143.58
Spent to help Democrats:$ 48,028.61
Total spending:$ 98,172.19

Spending rank for all Senate races: 24

Results
Dan Hall (R)* 55.07%
Phillip M. Sterner (DFL) 44.75%
*Incumbent

Legend

  •   Up to $1,080,434
  •   Up to $864,347
  •   Up to $648,260
  •   Up to $432,173
  •   Up to $216,086
  •   No spending data reported

Were politicos betting on a race they thought would be close? Probably. Did all that money make the race more competitive than it otherwise would have been? Who knows.

Other races that looked like sleepers from the political spending perspective were close: there was very little spending on either side, for instance, in Senate District 5, where Republican Justin Eichorn unseated longtime Grand Rapids DFL Senator Tom Saxhaug with less than a two-point margin (then again, in presidential races, this district went from blue in 2012 to solid red in 2016).

Big money wins

In some races, though, there’s an argument to be made that spending did make a difference. One of them is House District 42A, which covers Twin Cities suburbs including Mounds View, Shoreview and Arden Hills. Here, two-term DFL House incumbent Barb Yarusso lost in a suburban district that favored Barack Obama in 2012 and Hillary Clinton in 2016.

House District 42A, Mounds View, Shoreview, Arden Hills

✓ Randy Jessup (R) - 50.2% / Spending to help Jessup: $210,876

   Barb Yarusso (DFL) - 49.6% / Spending to help Yarusso: $129,150

20th most expensive House race

Republican Randy Jessup’s success can’t really be explained by 42A voters’ presidential politics. Political tides did not push this suburban district toward Trump (a not-uncommon phenomenon). Instead, Clinton won the district with 52 percent of votes in November, while Trump got 48 percent (results similar to the party breakdown in presidential votes in 2012).

Republican Party of Minnesota Chairman Keith Downey contends that Jessup won because he’s a good fit for the district — he’s a business owner who Downey called likeable, with a strong message: his  campaign focused on improving education, lower taxes and health care costs, and roads and bridges. And compared to some new candidates, Jessup likely had name recognition with voters, as the race was a rematch (with close to the opposite results in 2014).

But this was also a contest where Republican groups targeted resources, outspending Democrats by 1.6 to 1.

While the candidates themselves spent comparable amounts of money, independent expenditures spent on ads and mailers against Yarusso or for Jessup by groups like the House Republican Campaign Committee and the Minnesota Jobs Coalition (even with some of their spending ostensibly missing) was significantly more than equivalent spending by groups like the DFL and Planned Parenthood to help Yarusso.  In particular, voters saw a lot of spending to attack Yarusso.

All that spending doesn’t buy votes, exactly: Staunch partisans who vote frequently are unlikely to change their behavior, so campaign spending is generally aimed at voters who are “up for grabs” — those most likely to switch their vote (usually independents) or mobilize (usually people who affiliate with a party but not strongly enough to vote in every election), wrote University of North Florida political science professor Nicholas Seabrook in a 2010 study on money in state legislative races. So, money can matter more in districts where there are more independent voters and weakly affiliated partisans.

Voter behavior in 42A suggests split-ticket voting, behavior attributed to independent voters. The race was a close one, but it appears as though some 42A voters who voted for Clinton at the top of the ticket chose Jessup further down.

“In districts with higher levels of independents, enough swing voters exist that can be influenced by spending to substantively affect the outcome of elections,” Seabrook writes.

House District 42A wasn’t the only district to swing in the November elections — but they didn’t all swing in the same direction. Did a wave of positive advertisements help a DFL history teacher new to politics unseat the sitting Republican Senate minority leader in a banner year for Republicans?

Senate District 48, Eden Prairie

✓ Steve Cwodzinski (DFL) - 51.1% / Spending to help Cwodzinski: $620,057

  David Hann (R, incumbent) -48.8% / Spending to help Hann: $338,083

3rd most expensive Senate race

In September, Steve Cwodzinski called this race between him and longtime Republican Senator David Hann a David versus Goliath one, Minnesota Public radio reported. Indeed, Hann’s defeat would mark “only the fourth time in more than a century that the leader of a legislative caucus was ousted by voters.”

Yet it was a race the Democrats were willing to sink their teeth — and their cash — into. Nearly twice as much money was spent to help Cwodzinski, a well-known American government teacher in Eden Prairie schools, as was spent to help Hann, who was first elected to the Senate in 2002.

DFL groups got an early start. In particular, groups like Alliance for a Better Minnesota, the DFL and Planned Parenthood poured cash into mailers, web and television ads that painted Cwodzinski in a positive light. Most of the independent expenditures spent to help Hann came from groups like the Minnesota Action Network and Freedom Club, with no money recorded from state Republican party groups.

To be sure, you could argue the district’s gotten bluer in recent years: it went for Clinton by a large margin, whereas Obama barely beat Mitt Romney there in 2012. And Hann’s margin of victory shrunk from more than 11 percent in 2010 (before redistricting, he represented Senate District 42), to less than 3 percent in 2012.

But the incumbent seemed pretty sure he would keep his seat.

“The Democrats are probably going to want to spend some money here but they have a lot of seats they need to worry about,” Hann told MPR back in September. “This is a Republican district where I'm at.”

With the advantage of hindsight, the outgoing chair of the Minnesota GOP seemed to disagree with Hann’s carefree assessment: “That is one where I think absolutely (money) made a big difference,” Downey told MinnPost.

Since incumbents already have name recognition in their districts (this can be a double-edged sword, as their records can be used against them), campaign spending is thought to help challengers like Cwodzinski — and Jessup, for that matter — more than legislators defending their seats.

“The challenger often begins as an unknown whose every expenditure may yield additional information to the voter or at least increase the probability of name recognition,” write professors Michael Giles and Anita Pritchard in a study of money in legislative races.

Maybe Cwodzinski wasn’t so unknown, having long been a teacher in the district, but it’s possible all that spending got his name and message out to voters effectively.

Political tides

A deluge of positive ads and mailers may have helped Cwodzinski, but apparently weren’t enough to help incumbent Vicki Jensen, a moderate DFLer, win in Senate District 24, which encompasses Faribault and Owatonna. Did Trump’s popularity drown out the effects of DFL-affiliated spending?

In this swing district, Jensen lost to Republican challenger John Jasinski by 17 percentage points — more than three times greater than her margin of victory in 2012.

That’s despite that spending to help Jensen from union, DFL and major donors like Alliance for a Better Minnesota outweighed spending to help John Jasinski from groups like Freedom Club and Minnesota Action Network (there were no independent expenditures from Republican Party groups benefitting Jasinski, according to filings) by more than 3 to 1.

Senate District 24, Faribault/Owatonna

✓ John Jasinski (R) - 58.5% / Spending to help Jasinski: $200,200

   Vicki Jensen (DFL, incumbent) - 41.4% / Spending to help Jensen: $646,775

5th most expensive Senate race

“That’s the perfect example of a rural district that saw a huge swing of working class rural voters (go) toward the Republicans in this election,” Martin told MinnPost.

Indeed, while Romney won the district with 51 percent of the vote to Obama’s 46 percent in 2012, Trump’s margin of victory was a much larger 25 points, with 58 percent of the vote to Clinton’s 33 percent.

“It’s no different than what we saw in most parts of Greater Minnesota,” Martin said. “There was a huge swing — this Trump wave that happened in rural counties that ended up the vote totals not only in Senate District 24, but in Senate Districts 21, Senate District 14, Senate District 2 … the Trump impact clearly affected those races in a big way. Those are things that are outside of the control of candidates and parties and how much money was being spent or not spent.”

Also worth noting is that spending isn’t necessarily an indicator of strength for incumbents — it may indicate they and their allies anticipate a tough fight to defend their seat.

Money in elections

Academics have been studying spending in state legislative races for decades. They tend to agree that how much cash is expended does matter: After all, it costs money to buy ads and send out campaign literature, which is how candidates gain name recognition and get their message out to voters.

But if money were the only factor that mattered in races, the people who spent the most of it would always win, and that’s obviously not the case.

There are money spending dynamics to consider. Timing and strategy matter, and at some point, each additional dollar spent by a campaign is thought to be worth less than the dollars before it, because airwaves and mailboxes have already been saturated. Plus, there’s some evidence that money spent by outside groups in favor of candidates is often aimed more at gaining name recognition with soon-to-be legislators than at helping them win.

“Imagine you’re an interest group lobbyist and you can talk to a member of a state senate as he’s walking to one meeting or another,” said Harvey Tucker, a political science professor at Texas A&M University who has studied the relationship between money and election results in state legislatures. “You don’t want to spend 15 seconds telling him who you are and who you represent.”

And all kinds of other things going on this year that might have limited the influence of money in Minnesota districts can’t be ignored. For example, some of the DFL’s weakness in November was attributed to voters’ concerns over the Affordable Care Act and MNsure. Now-President Trump’s relative success here and the banner year for Republicans also suggest Trump’s coattail effect was big for down-ballot candidates in some Minnesota districts: after all, he came within 1.5 percentage points of Democrat Hillary Clinton in Minnesota, where a Republican hasn’t won electoral votes since 1972.

Not everything

So what does this mean for the politicos and journalists who track all this spending?

Money matters, but so does context.

In many, but not all, House races where spending to aid Republican candidates outpaced spending to aid Democrats by a considerable margin, Republicans won. Results were more mixed in House and Senate races with significant spending where expenditures to help Democrats considerably outweighed those to help Republicans.

Maybe Republicans spent more wisely — or maybe the top of the ticket helped in down-ballot races. Maybe both, depending on the circumstances.

Martin said that though there are lessons to be learned from this election, the outcome had a lot to do with forces larger than campaigning and money.

“It wasn’t for lack of efforts, and in some cases, I don’t think, for lack of tactics. You either ride the wave or get swamped by it,” he said.

“A lot of what we did in terms of our organizing was the right way of campaigning and is something we should continue doing in the future,” he said, cautioning his party against condemning its strategy.

Compared to past elections, Downey said Republicans have edged much closer to spending parity with Democrats and have improved their strategy.

“Money is always a factor in elections — it’s just the nature of it,” Downey said. “You need to get your message out — present your candidate, contrast yourself and your message with the opponent. Money is the key to doing that.”

Still, he said, he believes the backdrop of the November election and the issues voters cared about — like national security, border security, health insurance, jobs and the economy — favored Republicans.

“We had awesome candidates, and the issues were on our side.”

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Comments (12)

Do you remember when Citizens

United was the end politics as we know it because those evil GOP'ers, with unlimited money they would get from Big Oil, Big Business and Wall Street types, would ruin the democratic process because those who spend the most, win.... I just haven't heard that much about that after Hilllery spent 1.2 Billion to Trump's 500M.

Guys, as far as this election cycle, it was a continuum of 2010, 2012 and 2014 were liberals lost seats in State Houses, lost both DC houses and multiple Governoships to the tune of 1,000 plus seats lost.. It had nothing to do with money and everything to do with the ACA, 10's of thousands of regulations stifling the middle class, no Mid East policy, education getting worse by the year and safety at home. You didn't need money to see these policies by liberals and the Obama administration didn't sit well with regular blue collar folks... You know those deplorable non redeemable folks.

I agree that Citizens’ United is a red herring.

If the public were reasonably informed and capable of critical thinking, all the money poured into the cynical campaigns of establishment candidates wouldn’t mean a thing. Where the big money has been aimed is in the decades of managing the frames of discourse; cultivating ignorance, fear and hatred of false enemies; and rendering most folks incapable of exercising sound critical or moral judgment in their civic role. Trump may have spent less out of his pocket but he sure leveraged the investments that came before him.

Here's An Idea

If you raise money to get your message out, have an actual message.

I'm not the only one in this state that could not discern anything approaching a coherent message from the DFL. "Trump bad, us good" is not a message.

Rick Nolan had a message, "No TPP." How'd he do?

No Money isn't everything

There other factors that are important. If we look at Donald Trump, its estimated that he got over $2 billion in free advertising. He was forever in the media spotlight and look how that worked out. Its funny, not ha ha funny, but funny that Trump whines constantly about the Media, but they contributed Bigly to his success.

Something else that is never quantified is the effect of AM radio. My father lives in North Western Wisconsin. All he gets on his radio is Right Wing Hate and misinformation. It oozes out of Duluth constantly. Its all over Northern Minn as well and I suspect all of our out-state regions.

Fox News is another source of misinformation that feeds out election process. They are the mouth piece of the right.

Though we still hear cries Liberal media its obvious that there is no such thing, our media feeds right wing memes like the ACA killing us, there are 10's of thousands of regulations stifling the middle class, Obama has no Mid East policy, education getting worse by the year and I am not safe in my home. None of these things are actually true when they are broken down and looked at honestly, but most people believe them because that's what our media tells them.

Reality

So Fox and a few radio stations swung elections against ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, etc.? Or maybe there were other reasons… For example, that ACA was indeed unaffordable (per Gov. Dayton), Obama’s Mid East policy was a total failure, and people were not safe (relatively, of course) if one thinks of murders in Chicago and terrorism…

And of course all Trump's "free advertising" was all negative so maybe it was $2B spent for Clinton...

One example does not prove the rule

Democrats spent more on these races, but lost more then they won. As everyone admits that this was a unique election cycle, I'm not sure one can generalize from this example to the idea that the amount of money spent makes no differents.

First, Trump got millions of dollars of free advertising via the media, nationally and in Minnesota, that is not figured into these expenditures. That media attention certainly did not adequately vt Trump, as his fist month have been full of surprises. Trump had coattails in rural Minnsota.

Second, in rural Minnesota it does not cost as much to campaign. A lot of it is door knocking and other "free stuff." Spending money to overcome the natural Republican message of fear to Great Minnesota as well as how Black Lives Matters and police shootings undermined the Democratic message in rural Minnesota.

Third, this was very local. In Eden Prairie, a well known teacher beat a Republican party leader in a community as efforts to sow distrust about him didn't work, as people knew negative messages were lies. In contrast,in Edina, a Republican won by fighting a stealth campaign. I probably got a half dozen mailings in which he didn't mention his party enndorsement, but talking about his support of environmental and family issues - supplemented by extensive web advertising aimed at younger voters. How he will actually vote is uncertain, as he communicated no real policy positions. His business background showed in commucating what customers want to hear. We will have to see what he does.

The Minnesota House is like the Congress - in Republican control. If they have a genuine record of accomplishment,by passing legislation the Governor is willing to sign, they should do well in 2018, although should Trump fall flat on his face, he will take a lot of Republicans with him.

Dark Money

Great analysis, but as the article points out some Republican money had not been reported yet. And we just don't know how much money was spent in the campaign and by whom without knowing how much unreported dark money was spent. Why is this still legal in squeaky clean Minnesota?

Coordination

The lesson from Wisconsin is that reported campaign expenditures is now meaningless. The Wisconsin Supreme Court's decision suppressing the investigation into Governor Scott Walker's coordination of his own gubernatorial campaign with Koch funded groups on the grounds of the First Amendment makes any report completely arbitrary since there is no way of knowing whether any campaign was coordinated with some "independent" group that spent money on ads or other campaign support. Until at least one member of the Citizen's United majority on the U.S. Supreme Court realizes his mistake in gutting this country's campaign finance regulation laws, money will presumptively control outcomes in U.S. elections.

True

So Citizens United was a very bad decision because Republicans “buy” elections… wait, Democrats outspent Republicans in all races… Now Democrats say that can’t be true… It is true!

Just Apathy

The opposite of love is not hate it is apathy and that is all I have for the Democrats. My grandfather was appointed by FDR to his job. I have been registered Democrat since I was 18 over 35 years ago. I have knocked doors, worked phone banks, done get out the vote for Democrats and donated thousands over the years. No more. The Democrats are a completely failed party whose entire platform is "we suck less". Even with the loss across the board in November the DNC won't consider cutting their ties with Wall Street money. A loss of 1000 seats over 8 years and a loss to Trump is more than enough to prove they have no identity and don't stand for anything anymore. Dear Democrats I think it is time I start seeing other Parties. It's not me, it's you.

It is about the money...

With the total focus on money, both party organizations are now dominated by corporate interests. Election success Is achieved by supporting the rigged system. Mavericks of both parties who try to actually represent their voting constituencies are undermined by their own parties. Even if they manage to win, they are either isolated or co-opted. The worst fears of the founders, that our lives are dominated by a tiny group of entitled aristocrats, are coming true.

The good news is that this dangerous situation can quickly be turned around. Most of us still have the right to vote and can support candidates that represent our real interests. No matter what your party affiliation, support candidates who have your best interests at heart. The wonderful American experiment, once the envy of the world, can be salvaged.

I hate to say it but...

This just highlights the tragic decision to nominate Hillary Clinton instead of Bernie Sanders.

Sanders came out of nowhere with practically no name recognition or funding and won 48% of the vote and 23 primaries. He accomplished that not only with a popular liberal agenda that energized millions of voters, but he literally demonstrated an alternative fund raising strategy that eliminated special interests, freed him from constant fund raising, and provided more than enough funding for his campaign. He created an alternative campaign model and proved that it worked... and democrats completely ignored it.

Instead democrats went to prove (yet again) that you can't win elections no matter how much you spend, with crappy candidates that have no agenda beyond winning this election. They also proved that you can't put an awful candidate that millions of Americans say they don't trust and don't like at the top of your ticket and expect to win down-ticket victories despite yourself.

I remember democrats telling me that they were gonna unite and pull together and win the down ticket races with phone banks and door knocking; as if people would vote for candidates they don't like and don't trust simply because someone called and told them to. I said: "Good luck with that." And I meant it.

This democratic experiment with being a moderate republican party needs to come to an end. We've been giving voters a choice between wannabe republicans and real republicans for a couple decades now and Donald Trump is our president. I guess no matter how much democrats spend given a choice between pretend republicans and real republicans voters choose real republicans. Now that we know that, can me move on?

Let's try giving voters a chance to vote for liberal democrats with liberal agendas who don't think expanding Medicare to cover everyone is an impossible dream. Let's try giving voters strong popular candidates with energizing messages and agendas instead of mediocre candidates who can't connect with voters outside of elite social circles. Let's try some candidates that draw their funding and power from the people rather than elite financiers.

And if you don't believe that this can work... you need to get your head around the fact that YOU'RE not a liberal. I'm not saying that to insult anyone I'm saying that because people need to wake up and get their heads straight about this. No more pretending your a liberal just because you vote for democrats. You people just put Donald Trump in the White House and handed republicans elections all over the country. I know your demoralized and depressed but you need to wake up and pull your heads out of... wherever your heads are at and get straight on this. This isn't about money, it's about vision and passion and humanity.