Amy Klobuchar's unexpected eleventh-hour campaign suspension leaves the outcome of Minnesota's presidential primary uncertain, though some signs have suggested Bernie Sanders could challenge her home-field advantage.
Recent polls favored Klobuchar to win the primary. But without any voter surveys in a post-Klobuchar race, trends like fundraising, forecasting and search interest suggest her exit might create an opportunity for Sanders.
Relatively few Minnesotans have cast early ballots in the Democratic primary, and about 21 percent of likely voters were still undecided, according to a recent Minnesota Poll. Here's what other data beyond polling reveal about the battle for Minnesota headed into Super Tuesday:
Sanders has the next-best state fundraising
Klobuchar had dominated Minnesota fundraising this campaign cycle, but Sanders was a strong runner-up.
Campaign finance data analyzed by the nonpartisan OpenSecrets.org shows Klobuchar had relied heavily upon Minnesota donors, with about 18 percent of her fundraising coming from her own backyard. She was also the top recipient in most Minnesota counties, including the Twin Cities metro area.
But Sanders outperformed her in some fundraising stats. That same analysis shows he attracted more than 100,000 individual donations from Minnesotans during the 2020 campaign cycle, about 15,000 more than Klobuchar.
About a quarter of his haul came from outside the Twin Cities metro area, compared to just 16 percent for Klobuchar. He also had more small donations of $200 or less, a sign of grassroots support.
Forecasters now predict a Sanders win
Former Vice President Joe Biden jumped to a projected second-place finish.
Minnesota's 75 pledged delegates are distributed among candidates based on their popular vote totals statewide and in each of Minnesota's congressional districts. Because Minnesotans have been voting for weeks, Klobuchar and other candidates who have dropped out could still obtain pledged delegates, which could be a factor at the Democratic National Convention in July.
Minnesotans are googling their alternatives
Within hours of Klobuchar's exit, Google searches for her rivals spiked, with Sanders scoring the most interest, ahead of Elizabeth Warren and Biden – the latter of whom got Klobuchar's endorsement.
Although it doesn't prove voter intent, search interest is often examined by political observers because it can suggest momentum and signal curiosity among undecided voters.
Sanders overwhelmingly won Minnesota's caucuses against Hillary Clinton in 2016, and Barack Obama similarly won the state in 2008. Both Sanders and Obama led Google search rankings just prior to those contests.
Parts of this story were a collaboration between Washington, D.C.-based OpenSecrets.org, which tracks money in politics, and the Star Tribune.