In November 2016 Hillary Clinton won Minnesota’s presidential electoral majority by just a tiny 1.67 percentage points. However, in the metro, she beat Trump 70 to 30%, a huge 40 percentage point margin of victory in a medium sized voter segment. Trump won the remainder of the state by a margin of 58 to 42%, a smaller, but still significant, 16 percentage point margin.
There are two critically important implications from these data: First, if Trump had increased his metro share of the 870,000 metro votes cast by 5.2%, his share of the metro vote would have increased only modestly to 35.4% from his actual 30.2% share. This small shift would have given Trump victory in the entire state of Minnesota. In 2010, an even smaller metro increase would have made Emmer rather than Dayton our governor.
This morning I had breakfast with a younger long-time friend who lives in Edina, Minnesota. He brought his father to join us. I knew my friend to be an enthusiastic Trump supporter from the 2016 election; but I had not met his dad before, so his politics were unknown to me. But as so often happens this political season, the conversation soon swung to politics.
DAD: “Jim (to me) have you decided for whom you’ll vote?”
ME: “Yes, I decided a year ago. I’ll be voting the entire Republican ticket. We can win it all.”
DAD: “I don’t think so. You must live in Edina too?”
ME: “Nope, I live close to here, but our home is across the border in south Minneapolis.”
DAD: “I live in Minneapolis too. That means we’re both in the 5th congressional district, Keith Ellison’s former seat, which means we’ll just be watching the Democrats vote.”
MY FRIEND: “Dad, Edina is also in the 5th congressional district. However, whether we lose the 5th again, the big deal this year is the governor and state-wide officer elections. We have the much better candidates. We just need ‘city Republicans’ like you to turn out.”
DAD: “How does my vote overcome the Democrat majority in Minneapolis?”
MY FRIEND: “We don’t need a majority downtown. Almost all of rural Minnesota shall be voting Republican. All we have to do is have enough Republican votes in the city that – when added to the Republican rural and small town majorities – we exceed 50%.
ME: (to Dad) “Republicans can lose the metro by about 30 points, and still help the non-metros and small towns enough to have Jeff Johnson become governor.”
DAD: “I didn’t realize any of this. I’ll be voting this time for sure.”
ME: “It’s only a little over five percentage points. We can do this.”