An estimated 3.2 million Minnesotans voted in Tuesday’s general election — either via absentee ballot or in person — making for a 79% turnout that would be the highest in the state since 2008.
Ballots are still being counted and some races remain uncalled. But major outcomes and consequences of the vote are already clear. Here’s a look at four key takeaways from the vote:
Democrats continue a statewide win streak
Battleground Minnesota wasn’t so close in the end. Democrats continued their decadeslong streak of presidential victories as former Vice President Joe Biden defeated President Donald Trump in a comfortable 52 to 45%. High turnout in DFL strongholds such as Hennepin County sealed the win.
U.S. Sen. Tina Smith also won a full six-year term over Republican challenger Jason Lewis, but by a more narrow, 5-point margin. That spread lagged her 2018 special election win and U.S. Amy Klobuchar’s typically strong performance statewide.
‘Blue Dog’ Democrat U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson falls
Republican Michelle Fischbach defeated longtime U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson, ending the conservative Democrat’s decadeslong tenure in Congress. The Seventh Congressional District had trended Republican for years. Trump carried the western Minnesota seat by 30 points.
Peterson was the only congressional incumbent in Minnesota to lose Tuesday. A rare center-right “Blue Dog” Democrat in the U.S. House, he was chairman of the House Agriculture Committee and the last Minnesota Democrat left representing a rural district in Congress. Fischbach said Wednesday that she’ll ask for a seat on the same committee.
More divided Minnesota government on the horizon
Minnesota is on track for another two years of divided government in St. Paul. Senate Republicans are on track to retain a narrow majority, as are House Democrats.
The outcome will have significant implications for state policy as legislators and DFL. Gov. Tim Walz prepare to address the budget deficit, pandemic and redistricting next year. Given the stakes, outside groups spent heavily to influence the outcome. But in the end, it appears voters split their ballots, backing GOP candidates in districts that Trump lost.
Marijuana candidates shake things up
Minnesota’s Legal Marijuana Now Party appeared to play a pivotal role in key races. Second Congressional District pro-pot nominee Adam Weeks, who died unexpectedly weeks before the election, picked up more than 24,000 votes in the close race between U.S. Rep. Angie Craig and GOP challenger Tyler Kistner. In the U.S. Senate contest, two pro-marijuana candidates got 7.7% of the vote between them.
Marijuana candidates also won crucial shares in targeted legislative races, potentially playing a spoiler role for DFLers. In Shakopee, where DFL Rep. Brad Tabke lost by 2 points, a Legal Marijuana Now candidate siphoned received more than 7% of the vote.