2020 Presidential Elections State-by-State Guide: Trump's narrow 2016 loss puts blue Minnesota in the spotlight

The president lost to Hillary by just 1.5 percent in the Gopher State four years ago and he will be trying to cash in on state representative Ilhan Omar's controversies to mobilize his supporters in 2020


                            2020 Presidential Elections State-by-State Guide: Trump's narrow 2016 loss puts blue Minnesota in the spotlight
Minnesota State Flag (US Public Domain)
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State

MINNESOTA

Primary dates


March 3, 2020 (Tuesday)

Type: Open

Democratic delegates: 92 (pledged 75, super 17)

Republican delegates 39

Governor

Tim Walz (Democratic)

Senators

Amy Klobuchar (D) and Tina Smith (D)

Representatives: 8

Five Democratic: Angie Craig (2nd district), Dean Phillips (3rd district), Betty McCollum (4th district), Ilhan Omar (5th district), Collin Peterson (7th district)

Three Republican: Jim Hagedorn (1st district), Tom Emmer (6th district), Pete Stauber (8th district)

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Electoral college votes: 10 

Hillary Clinton won all of them in 2016

How Minnesota has voted in the past

Minnesota became a member of the Union in 1858. The Upper Midwest state was once a red one but from 1932 onwards, it turned blue. The last time Minnesota elected a Republican presidential candidate was in 1972 when Richard Nixon defeated George McGovern.

Even in 1984, the losing candidate Walter Mondale could win only one state in his contest with Ronald Reagan and it was his home state Minnesota.

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The Dems have won Minnesota for 11 straight elections now but in 2016, Clinton's winning margin over Donald Trump was much narrow (less than two percent) compared to Barack Obama's wins in the two preceding elections.

One elector that year wanted to vote for Republican John Kasich but it was disallowed and he was replaced. The North Star state has 10 electoral votes since 1960 but population projections at the end of 2016 could see it losing one of them after the 2020 presidential election.

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Minnesota leans Democratic but Hillary had wafer-thin win in 2016

A predominantly white state in the Midwest, Minnesota is only six percent black, five percent Hispanic and as many Asians. The Gopher State, however, is one of the aging ones in the US and more Minnesotans are expected to retire in the next decade compared to in the previous six.

This has made the minority and foreign-born people in Minnesota important for the state's economic future and politics as well.

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With Minnesota being a state where a high share of the population is related to immigrants (like Somalis), the state has found itself at odds with President Trump's hardline stance on immigration. The state though is not a battleground one like many others, it has seen close contests in recent presidential elections. 

For example, in 2012, former president Barack Obama won by a margin of less than eight percentage points while in 2016, Hillary beat Trump by only 1.5 percent.

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The bridging was the gap was more because of a big fall in Hillary’s vote share compared to that of Obama. A number of counties turned red from blue in 2016 and even if they were small, the shifts were huge. 

Minnesota and presidential election 2020 

Minnesota will remain a challenge for Trump who had almost won it last time and bragged about coming so close. He is banking on the controversial record of the state's Somalian-born representative Ilhan Omar as well as its good economic performance as factors he believes will push him towards a win this time.

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"In 2020, because of America hating anti-Semite Rep. Omar and the fact that Minnesota is having its best economic year ever, I will win the State! 'We are going to be a nightmare to the President,' she say. No, AOC Plus 3 are a Nightmare for America!" he tweeted in July last year.

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In the 2016 Republican primary in the North Star State, Trump finished third with 21 percent votes after Marco Rubio (36 percent) and Ted Cruz (29.04 percent). This time, his net approval rate in the state is minus seven.

It is to be seen whether the controversial Omar can mobilize more rural voters to the president’s favor. In the 2018 midterm election, the GOP did poorly, especially in the suburbs, after a record turnout was registered. 

In the Democratic field, two polls conducted in February showed local leader Klobuchar leading in Minnesota. Both the surveys from UMass Lowell and The Star Tribune-MPR News showed that the Minnesota senator was leading the fray by six points and in both cases, Bernie Sanders was in second place.

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The forecast made by FiveThirtyEight showed Klobuchar and Sanders tied at 47 percent each. In the 2016 primary in Minnesota, Sanders had a big win over Hillary by over 23 percent. Minnesota is undoubtedly a Democratic stronghold but Trump's narrow loss in 2016 will make it an interesting watch this time.

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