Remember when Minnesota was going to turn red?

posted at 10:41 am on November 7, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

Ah, the halcyon days of, er, last week.  Friends insisted that my home state of Minnesota might go red in a presidential election for the first time in 40 years.  Paul Ryan made a last-minute stop, but more thrilling, the Obama campaign sent Bill Clinton more than once to shore up the state.  We had two ballot measures, one for traditional marriage and the other for voter-ID, that was supposed to drive conservative and center-right turnout.

Whenever I heard this, I told people that Minnesota was a pipe dream, but it turned out even worse than I thought.  Here’s the final tally from last night in Minnesota:

  • Obama won with a larger margin of victory (12 points) than in 2008 (10 points)
  • Amy Klobuchar won the US Senate seat by a larger margin (36 points) than she did in 2006 (24 points)
  • GOP lost a House seat (Chip Cravaack in MN-08)
  • Neither of the two ballot measures passed, but they did outpace the Romney/Ryan ticket
  • Republicans lost control of legislature

The Star Tribune reports on the legislative wipeout:

DFLers reclaimed control of the Minnesota Legislature on Tuesday, ending two short years of a Republican majority and offering Gov. Mark Dayton a much friendlier climate to pursue his agenda.

Election Day 2012 brought an end to the GOP’s brief hold on the Legislature as incumbent after incumbent lost — many of them the same Republican freshmen who swept the party into control just two years before. The last time Minnesota had a DFL governor and DFL control of both houses was in 1990, the last year of DFL Gov. Rudy Perpich.

“The [Republican House] Speaker [Kurt Zellers] just called and congratulated us,” House Democratic Leader Paul Thissen announced at 1 a.m. Wednesday. “What a great night for Democrats, what a great night for Minnesota.”

Republicans lost their 37-30 majority in the Senate as incumbents like John Howe lost in an upset to DFL challenger Matt Schmit.

We now have a Democratic legislature with Dayton as governor for the next two years.  That outcome is even worse for Minnesota than the status quo result we got on a national basis last night.  We are in for a significant turn to the left in my state, with tax hikes and union agendas in play.

On the Senate seat, no one should be surprised.  However, it is worth noting that Kurt Bills won the GOP nomination thanks to a show of organization by Ron Paul supporters that seems to have evaporated in the general election.  That’s not a knock on Bills, who did well in the legislature but was out of his depth in this race, which needed a stronger Republican name brand to even compete with Klobuchar.  It is a very big red flag to those who think that the Paul supporters are the future of Republican politics in Minnesota.  There is much to like about their small-government philosophy, but their follow-up and ability to nationalize their support didn’t even come close to getting the job done.

Republicans narrowly avoided a catatstrophe in US House elections.  The newly reapportioned districts almost cost Michele Bachmann her seat in MN-06, which she held by just a handful of votes despite having an enormous money advantage.  Chip Cravaack’s tenure ended at one term as the Iron Range returned to its usual voting pattern, losing the seat to Rick Nolan by seven points.   Even my Congressman, John Kline, had a much closer race than we first predicted, holding his seat by single digits. That returns the Minnesota delegation to the 5/3 Dem/GOP allocation that we had before the 2010 midterms, but that belies the ground lost in the popular vote for those seats.

Finally, the two ballot propositions did achieve one goal: they outperformed the Romney/Ryan ticket in Minnesota.  The traditional marriage constitutional amendment only got 47% of the vote, and voter-ID surprisingly did slightly worse at 46%.  Polling at the beginning of the cycle showed the traditional-marriage amendment to be a tough call, but voter-ID had polled very positively, even among Democrats.  Its loss comes as a surprise, and conservatives will have to rethink their approach before taking a flyer on that issue again — and thanks to the DFL-controlled legislature, they’ll have at least two more years for rethinking.

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