Hillary only won Minnesota by 44K votes that came from the liberal utopia of Minneapolis.

Red-state tide could flood into Minnesota

By SALENA ZITO • 12/29/16 5:47 PM

One of the most underreported stories of this year’s election cycle was how darn close the race finished in Minnesota for Donald Trump.

Yes, Minnesota.

The president-elect did not win the North Star State on Election Day, but he was 44,000 votes shy in a state he was supposed to lose by a predicted 8 percentage points.

That near-miss shows how red Minnesota has become and illustrates how much the entire Great Lake Rust Belt has changed. Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania all flipped their support from President Obama to Trump.

Underreported, too, is how muscular the Republicans have become in the state legislature. The GOP expanded its Minnesota state House majority and won control of the state Senate for the first time in six years.

Minnesota is definitely on the same path that Wisconsin was in 2009 when Reince Priebus took over as state party chairman, explained Brad Todd, a Republican strategist and founding partner of OnMessage.

“A lot of that trajectory has been accelerated by the unpopularity of what is called MNcare (MinnesotaCare) which is basically Obamacare on steroids,” said Todd.

In short, MNcare is a result of Democrat Gov. Mark Dayton taking Medicaid expansion to the furthest extreme possible, a move that has wrecked the insurance market for good private coverage and has served as an example of liberalism gone wild.

The Democratic Party in Minnesota has always been more populist than liberal. In fact, its name is technically the Democratic Farmer Labor Party.

You can trace the farmer labor roots of the DFL to a recurrent pattern of populism in the state’s politics that began with the national Grange of the 1860s, followed in a direct line to the Anti-monopoly, Greenback and People’s Party, all the way through to the populist candidacy of William Jennings Bryan in the 1890s and into the present century.

“Over time the size of the Twin-cities (Minneapolis and St. Paul) has made the DFL party more cosmopolitan and elite so it looks more like the national Democrats than its economic populist roots,” said Todd.

In the past few election cycles, populist and Tea Party Republicans have successfully persuaded many old school, farm labor-style Minnesotans to look in a new direction on economic issues rather than to sticking with the DFL.

“That rejection of the cosmopolitan elites and progressives has become the opening for Republicans in this state,” he said.

Minnesota Republicans have had the majority in the state house since 2010, something that took them nearly 100 years to achieve, said Todd, but the state senate has eluded them. “That is, until this year, a shift that came largely as a reaction to Mncare. But what has not been noticed by anyone is the fact that the race was so dang close in the presidential race,” he said.

“If it were not for the city of Minneapolis, Clinton loses the state,” Todd said, emphasizing that a Republican presidential nominee has not carried the state since 1972.

“The closeness … underscores how much this state has changed right in plain sight while no one was paying attention,” he added.

Demographically Minnesota is very similar to Wisconsin which has become a bonafide red state in the past 7 years, the only thing that holds Minnesota back from matching Wisconsin’s flip to Trump is that demographically the blue islands of the Twin-cities are larger than the blue islands of Madison and Milwaukee in Wisconsin.

The GOP’s next step in the state is to continue to recruit candidates to challenge three U.S. House seats held by Democrats that are very winnable for the Republicans.

“There are not very many House seats left on the target map overall for the Republicans in the country, but Minnesota districts, 1, 7 and 8 are winnable,” he said.
Minnesota’s 7th Congressional District is held by Rep. Colin Peterson, one of the last centrist blue-dog Democrats left in America. The 8th Congressional District is held by Rick Nolan. The GOP has gone after him several times with the same candidate but haven’t won, yet.

It is in Minnesota’s first congressional district where they’ve had a hard time recruiting a high quality candidate. But all three districts remain viable and winnable if the GOP keeps the pressure up.

As far as the U.S. Senate race in Minnesota in 2018 goes, incumbent Democrat Amy Klobuchar would be very tough to beat, though not impossible.

But the 2018 governor’s race will definitely be very competitive. Look for it to be a pretty big priority for the GOP to pick up and for national Democrats to try desperately to hold as current DFL Gov. Mark Dayton is exiting after two terms.

Democrats’ loss of a foothold here is an eight-year journey on which independent-minded populists, previously wedded to and dependent on New Deal economic policies of the DFL, have fled the party that has shut them out by becoming too cosmopolitan.

Trump’s victories is Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan and Wisconsin marked the first time in eight presidential elections that a Republican nominee has carried every presidential battleground in the Rust Belt Great Lakes region. Deep-blue Minnesota is not so deep blue anymore, and could be a state Republicans turn red in the 2018 midterms and beyond.

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