Minnesota Is Turning Purple

The United States has been, in general, trending Republican in recent years. At the state and local levels, the party is doing better than ever, and Democrats are in many places becoming an endangered species. Minnesota is one state that has been perceived as bucking that trend and remaining staunchly blue. Beneath the surface, though, the Minnesota Star Tribune reports that the state is moving toward the Republican column:

The [Cook Partisan Voter Index] has long been considered a gold standard for tracking electoral leanings over time. It’s calculated by finding the average Republican and Democratic shares of the two-party vote in a state or district spanning the previous two elections. Those numbers are compared to the national popular vote percentages for each party’s candidate in those years. This way, it’s possible to judge how much more Republican or Democratic a state or congressional district votes compared with the country as a whole.

This year, the Cook Political Report has listed Minnesota as a likely win for Democrat Hillary Clinton, with a CPVI score of D+2 derived from 2008 and 2012 election numbers — meaning the state leans two points more Democratic than the national average.

This graph shows how Minnesota has become more competitive in recent elections. Click to enlarge:


In my opinion, continuation of this trend is inevitable. Minnesota is an outlier: the surrounding states are either purple (Wisconsin and Iowa) or deep red (North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska). Demographically, Minnesota profiles as a red to purple state. Culturally, Minnesota is conservative. To cite just one such indicator, there are more teenagers living with their two natural parents in Minnesota than any other state in the union, save one: Utah.

How soon we see Minnesota’s conservative trend reflected on the national scene depends on a number of factors. It could have happened this year; during the primary season, the Minnesota Poll found Marco Rubio leading Hillary Clinton by, as I recall, nine points. Because Republicans foolishly nominated Donald Trump, Minnesota’s official designation as a purple state has been put off by at least one election cycle. But that status is, I think, inevitable, sooner rather than later.