Minnesota’s Unusual Partisan Runs in Presidential Elections

Minnesota is one of just six states in which both parties have recorded double-digit partisan presidential winning streaks – and the only one outside of the South

The field of play in presidential elections appears to get smaller and smaller – with a historically low number of states flipping in recent election cycles and nearly three-dozen states in the midst of their largest ever Democratic or Republican partisan winning streaks.

While Democrats look to bring three states back into their column which they narrowly lost in 2016 – Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin – the Donald Trump campaign has publicly targeted Minnesota as one of its prime pick-up opportunities to help stave off any such losses.

Trump lost Minnesota by just 1.5 points to Hillary Clinton last cycle which is the closest the GOP has come to carrying the Gopher State since home-grown nominee Walter Mondale eked out a 0.18-point win during the 1984 Ronald Reagan landslide.

Clinton’s victory extended the Democratic streak in Minnesota to 11 cycles in a row.

That marks the longest active winning streak for the party (outside of the District of Columbia) and is tied with Florida for 11th longest all-time run for the party across the 50 states behind Georgia (24), Arkansas (23), Alabama (18), Mississippi (18), Louisiana (17), South Carolina (17), Texas (13), North Carolina (12), Tennessee (12), and Virginia (12).

What distinguishes Minnesota from these other states, of course, is that it is the only one not located in the southern region of the country, where Democrats dominated at the ballot box for generations following Reconstruction.

Minnesota is also a member of a small club of just six states to have recorded double-digit winning streaks for both major parties in presidential races.

Republican nominees carried Minnesota for the first 13 cycles after statehood (1860-1908), broken by Progressive Teddy Roosevelt’s victory in 1912 with GOP President William Taft placing a distant third.

Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Texas have each backed Republican nominees for the last 10 cycles since 1980. The GOP also carried Virginia in 10 consecutive cycles from 1968-2004 to round out the list of six.

The next cycle in which another state could reach 10 consecutive Democratic victories is 2024.

Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Washington are currently sitting at eight elections in a row backing Democratic nominees since 1988.

Three of those states do have double-digit GOP winning streaks in their political history –Massachusetts (14, 1856-1908), Rhode Island (14, 1856-1908), and Oregon (10, 1872-1908) – and could join Minnesota and aforementioned five southern states on the list at that time.

The earliest cycle in which another state could reach 10 consecutive wins for the GOP for the first time is 2032: Georgia and Montana have backed GOP nominees for the last six cycles since 1996.

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