A new poll by Quinnipiac University of more than 1,000 likely voters in both Minnesota and Wisconsin was released Thursday with a surprising headline: Barack Obama led John McCain by just 2 points in the Gopher State (46 to 44 percent) but had an 11-point advantage over the Arizona Senator in the Badger State (50 to 39 percent).
Before McCain supporters get too enthusiastic that his campaign has made great inroads in Minnesota, and before Obama supporters get too self-assured that the Illinois Senator will roll to an easy win in Wisconsin, Smart Politics offers the following history lesson: the Democratic presidential nominee has performed more strongly in Minnesota than in Wisconsin during the last 17 elections, dating back to 1940.
In every election for the past 68 years, regardless of whether the Democratic nominee has carried both states (1940, 1948, 1964, 1976, 1988, 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004), only Minnesota (1944, 1960, 1968, 1980, 1984), or neither state (1952, 1956, 1972), Democrats have always fared better in Minnesota than in Wisconsin (as measured by the percentage point difference between the Democratic and Republican nominees in each state).
On average, Democratic presidential nominees have performed 7.6 points stronger in Minnesota than in the Badger State. During the past 5 elections since 1988 (when both states have consistently voted Democratic), the margin is 4.3 points.
Overall, Minnesota has voted for the Democratic nominee in 14 of the 17 elections since 1940, while Wisconsinites voted Democratic in just 9 of them.