Just half of the state's nearly 4 million eligible voters cast ballots this midterm election, according to preliminary turnout results released by Secretary of State Mark Ritchie.
The figure -- 50 percent -- was far below historical voting trends and expectations that as many as 60 percent of Minnesotans would vote Tuesday, either in person or through absentee ballot.
In past midterm elections, Minnesota's voter turnout rate was 55.81 percent in 2010 and 60.47 percent in 2006.
In a statement, Ritchie said voter turnout would increase slightly as some counties submit final voting statistics.
The unofficial figures show that the state received 197,691 absentee ballots, roughly 10 percent of all ballots cast.
The state's canvassing board will certify election results Nov. 25.
Photo: Voters arrive at the Vasa Town Hall in Welch, Minn. early Tuesday to cast their votes. (Jim Gehrz/Star Tribune)
Candidates for governor, Senate and Congress have spent millions to get dozens of messages on television.
But, with Election Day nearly here, these are the words they really want you to remember.
Here are their final, closing argument television ads.
Republican Jeff Johnson
Johnson, a Hennepin County commissioner raised in Detroit Lakes, tailored his final ads to three different parts of the state. In all three ads, Johnson is standing in a sun-dappled, tree stand.
"He's just not up to the job any more," Johnson says of DFL Gov. Mark Dayton. "It's time for new leadership in Minnesota."
In two other ads, he claims that he, unlike Dayton, will focus on Greater Minnesota.
DFL Gov. Mark Dayton
Dayton's final ad is called "Rising" and highlights the way his campaign believes the state is better since Dayton took office and will be even better if he wins again.
"Mark Dayton knows we have much more to do, to help struggling families, make college more affordable, and help small businesses grow," the narrator says. "Moving forward together."
Republican Mike McFadden
McFadden's final ad shows a contrast -- the country as it is, with the country as it could be.
"Everything is at stake," a narrator reads, as various scenes of Minnesota life flit by. "Our hopes, our dreams, our future....We can make America great again."
Democratic U.S. Al Franken
Franken's final ad, called "Delivered," uses quotations from newspaper editorial endorsements to promote the candidate.
"Newspapers across Minnesota back Al Franken," the ad's narrator says. Video of Franken meeting with various people shows as different voices read selections from the pro-Franken endorsements.
Eighth Congressional District
Democratic U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan
Nolan, fighting to keep his northern Minnesota district, closed his campaign with an ad that shows him speaking to a crowd and going hunting. Against that backdrop, Nolan gives his enthusiastic stump speech.
"It's time to do what's right for the middle class," Nolan says in the ad.
Republican Stewart Mills
In Mills final ad, he speaks directly to the camera and makes the ask for viewers' votes.
"Minnesota is my home," he says in the ad, which includes childhood photos of Mills. "I'm Stewart Mills. I approved this message and I'd appreciate your vote."
Both Gov. Mark Dayton and Sen. Al Franken are holding onto leads in a new KSTP-TV/SurveyUSA poll, but Dayton's race in particular has tightened.
The poll, taken Oct. 27-30, found Dayton leading Republican Jeff Johnson, 47 to 42 percent. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.1 percentage points. Hannah Nicollet of the Independence Party had the support of 2 percent, as did Libertarian Party candidate Chris Holbrook. Six percent were undecided or supporting other minor candidates.
The poll found Dayton's support slipping among independents, with Johnson leading by 12 points. Dayton still holds a notable advantage with women voters, though that support has also slipped from previous polls.
Dayton has led Johnson in every independent poll of the race, though what was once a healthy lead has shrunk. A Star Tribune poll published a week ago found Dayton leading Johnson, 45 percent to 38 percent.
The KSTP poll found Franken with a larger lead over challenger Mike McFadden, 51 to 40 percent, though that lead too is smaller than Franken's lead in the last SurveyUSA poll. The IP's Steve Carlson is at 4 percent and Libertarian Heather Johnson is at 2 percent. Four percent are undecided or back other candidates.
Franken, too, has never trailed McFadden in any poll of their race. The recent Star Tribune poll found Franken up over McFadden, 48 to 39 percent, although past SurveyUSA polls showed Franken with a much wider lead than he holds in the new one.
All four of the statewide candidates planned full days of campaigning Monday, ahead of the start of voting on Tuesday morning. Dayton is joining the DFL's bus tour for several events throughout Minneapolis: at Urban League headquarters in the early afternoon, at the University of Minnesota in the evening and then later stops at organized labor offices in Minneapolis and St. Paul.
Johnson is holding meet-and-greet stops with Twin Cities voters throughout the day: at a suburban park and ride, in grocery stores and other spots. He's also makinig get-out-the-vote calls and visiting Republican volunteers at several sites.
Franken is also participating in multiple stops on the DFL bus tour. McFadden is flying around the state with Sixth Congressional District GOP candidate Tom Emmer to campaign at greater Minnesota locations.
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mike McFadden's campaign will launch its final advertisement during prime time Sunday night.
The 30-second advertisement, entitled "It's Time," opens with gravity: "Everything is at stake," a narrator reads. "Our hopes, our dreams, our future."
McFadden campaign spokesman Tom Erickson said the broadcast will air at around 6:30 p.m. on CBS, NBC, ABC, and FOX and is the final television advertisement of the campaign. It will run just before McFadden squares off with Sen. Al Franken in their last of three debates at 7 p.m. on Minnesota Public Radio, two days before the election.
View the ad here:
To assess which Minnesota House races are competitive follow the money.
Democratic and Republican groups have spent more than $100,000 on at least 20 seats, almost all held by Democrats.
The DFL is on defense, desperately holding on to its majority in the 134-member House. Republicans are just as anxious to snatch that control away in this off-year election.
Explore the spending on the key races to decide the majority below.
All told, as of Oct. 20, the House candidates and outside groups, including parties and political action committees, have spent more than $13 million on the contest for the lower chamber.
Click on each bar to see the exact amount of money spent.
These figures only include spending by groups registered with the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board, as of Oct. 20. They do not include the significant cash spent by political nonprofits, whose spending largely is unreported before elections. Republican-supporting groups have spent considerable sums through political nonprofit organizations.
Here are the candidates competing in those 20 races:
UPDATE: Most of the money spent on 48B was spent during the contested August primary.
Glenn Howatt contributed to this post.
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