A Few Observations on 2020 Elections in Minnesota

Another election cycle has come to a close … almost.

As we publish, it appears that absentee ballots are still being counted.  Final 2020 voting statistics are not final.  However, the numbers that are available are worth considering.  The following analysis is based on information from the MN Secretary of State[https://www.sos.state.mn.us/elections-voting/election-results/].

Across Minnesota, 80% of the estimated eligible voters voted in the Presidential race.  This is the highest turnout in Minnesota since 1956, when 83.1% of voters turned out. Contrast this to 2016, when the voter turnout was 74.7%. 

In 2016, President Trump lagged Hillary Clinton 1.367 million votes to 1.323 million votes, less that 45,000 votes, or 1.5%.  In that year, minor party candidates had 254,000 votes (8.6%).  If President Trump had gotten even 25% of that minor party vote, he would have taken Minnesota.

This year, President Trump’s total went up, but former VP Biden went up by more.  The Republican candidate lagged the Democrat candidate 1.484 million votes to 1.718 million votes, less than 234,000 votes (7.1%).  The votes that went to minor parties and write-in votes in the 2016 Presidential race appeared to go primarily to the Democratic candidate.  The minor party votes totaled only  76,288 votes (2.3%). 


As the MPR News chart above shows, Biden led other Democrats down-ticket by a significant number.  The minor parties that garnered 2.3% of the vote at the Presidential level had a bigger impact in the next tier races.  In the Senate contest and the eight Congressional races, minor parties had 7.8% and 5.1% of the vote, respectively.

The estimated number of eligible voters has increased from 2016 to 2020 by 146,132 (4%).  This is about a 1% increase from 2018, after a 2% jump from 2016 to 2018.

Minnesota voters have traditionally been more willing to vote both sides of a ballot.  There was some evidence of this in the Qualls vote for Congress in the 3rd Congressional District.  Kendall secured 44.3% in his contest, outperformed Trump by 5% and Lewis by 4.2%.

The voter turnout in Senate District 49 was 88%.  The turnout across all of Congressional District 3 was 89%.  In 2018, the turnout was over 85%.

Republican candidates that ran in Senate Districts 49 and 50 had between 31% to 38% of the vote, all against well-funded incumbents.  A deeper analysis will be required to understand the unique impacts of the pandemic restrictions on group gatherings, the background of a polarizing Presidential election, and the nature of their individual campaigns. 

A sincere thanks to the candidates who devoted much of their personal time, funding, and effort to campaign. They and their families sacrificed personal time and encountered both the best and worst of commentary and actions from their fellow Minnesotans. We thank each of them for the service they have provided by running for office.