How voter enthusiasm salvaged Minnesota's midterm turnout
New data released this month from the Minnesota Secretary of State paints a clearer picture of where increased voter enthusiasm helped drive a record 2.6 million Minnesotans to the polls, reversing years of Minnesota's sliding turnout during midterms.
Surges in the youth vote, large numbers of early ballots and political shifts in the state's suburbs and rural areas all indicated a electorate more enthused to participate this year than in 2014.
Here's how strong motivation among voters impacted Minnesota's electorate this year:
Turnout was more on par with presidential years
About 64 percent of eligible Minnesota voters cast ballots on and before Election Day, the state's highest midterm turnout since 2002.
After several years of gradually decreasing, Minnesota's midterm election turnout bounced back by about 13 percent, much closer to the state's typical presidential election year turnout.
Additionally, this year's early vote nearly matched 2016's numbers and surpassed 2014 nearly three times over. New voter registrations spiked this year as well.
Metro enthusiasm boosted turnout
Increases in turnout — shaded from less to more, except where it decreased — were most pronounced in the Twin Cities and its suburbs compared to 2014, particularly Hennepin, Ramsey and Dakota counties.
High turnout in those Democratic strongholds helped many DFL candidates win their statewide races.
Meanwhile, greater suburban turnout shifted those districts from Republican to Democratic. Minnesota's suburban District Three lead the country in turnout among Congressional districts this year, while metro Districts Five and Two also placed in the top ten.
Minnesota leads national turnout
Minnesota emerged as the national leader in voter turnout, adding to a streak that started in 2014.
States like Colorado, Montana and Wisconsin also lead the pack, while Oklahoma, Mississippi and Hawaii had among the lowest voter turnout in the country.
Same-day registration, revised early voting laws and a general culture of civic engagement have kept Minnesota in the upper echelons of voter turnout for years.
As more states look to Minnesota and adopt similar measures to ease the voting process in the future, its place atop the stack might someday be challenged.