Expert Alert

Minnesota elections, campaigns and political history

Minnesota state flag waving in the wind with the sun behind it.
Credit: Getty/Oleksii Liskonih

With the 2020 election less than two weeks away, Humphrey School of Public Affairs research fellow and Minnesota Historical Election Archive curator Eric Ostermeier is available to speak about the election, campaigns, and political history from a Minnesota and national perspective.

Eric Ostermeier, Ph.D., J.D.
“Although Minnesota’s current streak of voting for Democratic presidential nominees in 11 consecutive cycles is the longest outside of the South in party history, the state nonetheless retains the status of a ‘battleground state.’

“That status is bolstered in part due to the strength of both major parties in the state which has created unusually competitive races. Despite Minnesota’s long Democratic winning streak for president, the average victory margin has been only seven points during this period – closer than all but four other states (i.e., Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Iowa).

“Party strength is also seen in the fact that both the GOP and DFL have fielded nominees for 168 consecutive Minnesota U.S. House elections since 1980 – the second largest streak in the nation. Moreover, half of the state’s 16 U.S. House elections over the last two cycles have been decided by single digits, including three by less than a percentage point. Minnesota Republicans also picked up two U.S. House seats during the 2018 Democratic national wave – the only state where the GOP flipped seats in the country.

“And even as the DFL has won a party record 18 consecutive statewide elections since 2010, partisan control of the Minnesota House has changed hands four times during this stretch plus three times in the Minnesota Senate. Add to that the state’s rich history of producing unusually strong third parties and high voter turnout and the result is almost always an Election Day in Minnesota full of nail-biters and surprises.”


Eric Ostermeier is a research fellow with the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance in the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. Ostermeier founded the nonpartisan political news site Smart Politics in 2006. He also curates the Minnesota Historical Election Archive, which is the largest searchable database of Minnesota election results. Ostermeier is a recipient of a Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund grant. His research has been featured and cited several thousand times in broadcast, print and digital media reports as well as in an array of books and journal articles.

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Thu, 10/22/2020 - 11:03
Minnesota elections, campaigns and political history
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