With as many as half a dozen Congressional special elections on the horizon, and a critical State Senate election which will decide the partisan control of that body in Delaware later this month, why am I so interested in a Minnesota State House special election on Tuesday in the far northern suburbs of the Twin Cities region?
Not surprisingly, the answer is…. Donald Trump.
In analyzing election returns for Minnesota HD 32B, one thing is very clear – President Trump received a lot of support here.
Below is a chart showing the relative vote share for all Presidential and statewide Republican candidates in Minnesota over the last three cycles. The red bars denote the percentage of the vote the GOP candidate received statewide, while the blue bars represent the vote share for Minnesota HD 32B. The set of bars on the far right? Yea, that’s the data from this past November’s presidential race.
Since the comparison may be hard to see in that chart, I made a second graph showing just the difference between the MN HD 32B Republican vote share, and the statewide Republican vote percentage, for each race.
This chart clearly illustrates the strong support President Trump received in HD 32B in 2016, as compared with all the other statewide races in Minnesota going back to 2012. Interestingly, whereas increased turnout during presidential years generally favors Democrats nationwide, that doesn’t appear to hold true here. Support for the Republican presidential candidate in both 2012 and 2016 was stronger in HD 32B, compared to statewide, than either of the last two Senate races, or any of the elections for state executive officers in 2014.
Finally, I was interested in seeing whether support for Trump was concentrated in specific parts of the district, so I examined the Republican vote share in Minnesota HD 32B by precinct:
The result? Trump outperformed Mitt Romney and the other statewide candidates in Minnesota in every precinct.
Now, I don’t expect to be able to draw sweeping national conclusions about the future behavior of Trump supporters from an isolated special election for a State House seat in Minnesota. But I will be interested to see if there is any relationship between the President’s strong showing in this district three months ago, and the performance of the Republican candidate in this race, Anne Neu, whose resume and background are much more in line with a traditional GOP candidate. And I’m also curious as to whether increased Democratic activism on the national level (online, in marches, and at contentious town hall meetings) might impact a local race such as this one.
[For background on this special election, including a detailed listing of all state legislative special elections held in Minnesota since 2010 which did not take place concurrent with a regular general or primary election, see my post from last week here.]