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Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Racial Diversity and 2018 Minnesota General Election

In previous IMO posts we found that 2018 voting results in the Twin Cities metropolitan area helped propel Democratic candidates to win statewide races and state legislative seats, especially gaining in the fully developed suburbs. Turnout was high across the state, particularly with women and on the edge of Twin Cities developed suburbs, but comparably lagged in rural Outstate Minnesota.

While hostility towards immigration and increasing diversity are among factors linked to election results, some of the largest increases in the Democratic vote occurred in racially diverse and semi-diverse suburbs in the Twin Cities metro, municipalities with populations between 10 to 30 percent non-white.

Racial and Voting Compositions in Minnesota Municipalities

In 2016, racial minorities make up 19% of the total population statewide. Minnesota’s population more typically lives in municipalities that are racially diverse, with racial minorities making up 15% to 29% of their population. The chart below shows the total share of population broken out by percentage minorities in municipalities. The left set of bars shows that statewide 30% of Minnesotans live in diverse municipalities, while only 17% live in more exclusively white municipalities that are less than 5% minority.

There are clear difference between municipalities in the Twin Cities metro and Outstate Minnesota, with the metro having more racial diversity overall.   The middle set of the chart's bars below shows the population shares by minority percentage in municipalities for Outstate Minnesota and the right set shows these shares for the Twin Cities 11-county metro area. In the metro, 37% of residents live in diverse municipalities, while only 20% do outstate. A greater difference between the metro and outstate is that the share of municipalities with 30% or more racial minority, is large in the metro (31%) and quite small outstate (4%).

Racial diversity generally favors Democrats in elections. Typically, the larger the percentage of racial minorities that live in municipalities, the greater the percentage of voters that choose Democrats, as shown on the chart below for the 2018 Governor’s race. The chart shows this trend is pretty consistent statewide and in the metro, but is a little less apparent outstate.  Although we report solely on the governor’s election, similar dynamics can be found in other 2018 election contests.

In Outstate Minnesota the Democratic vote shares in predominately white municipalities (< 15% minority) is actually slightly higher than in the metro, while the converse is true in more racially diverse municipalities, where the metro has much larger shares of the Democratic vote than outstate. In terms of the total vote, the fact that predominately white outstate locations tend to vote slightly more Democratic than similar metro locations is outweighed by the fact that these locations still less often vote Democratic and make up over three-quarters of the outstate population, compared to only one-third of the metro’s total population.

Change in Racial and Voting Compositions

Statewide, population percentage growth is moderate and relatively uniform across diverse and semi-diverse municipalities, but changes in population lagged or declined across predominately white municipalities. Furthermore, by far, growth was higher in the Twin Cities than it was in Outstate Minnesota, regardless of the racial composition of municipalities, as shown on the chart below.  

While population tended to grow slowly or decline outstate, and grow faster in the metro, racial minority shares in municipalities tended to grow more outstate than in the metro, as shown in the chart below. In Outstate Minnesota, municipalities with 30 to 39% minority had the highest increase in minority shares, a 5.0 percentage point increase, locations that tended to vote Republican (as shown on the 2nd to top chart), followed by municipalities with 40% or more minority, which had a 4.2 point increase. In these locations, the increase in minority shares is explained, in part, by lagging and declining white population change.

In the Twin Cities metro, municipalities with 40% or more minority had the largest minority share increase of 3.4 points, followed by municipalities with 15 to 29% minority, with a 2.5 point increase.

In the whitest municipalities with less than 5% minority, racial minority populations decreased statewide, outstate and in the Twin Cities metro. 

There are also wide differences between the Twin Cities metro and Outstate Minnesota when it comes to changes in the Democrat vote in the 2010 and 2018 the gubernatorial elections. The metro area Democratic vote rose across municipalities, while in outstate it declined, except in municipalities 10 to 29% minority, as shown in the chart below. 

The greatest increase in the Democratic vote occurred in racially diverse and semi-diverse Twin Cities’ suburbs (10 to 29% minority), with around an 11 point increase in the share of the Democratic vote for Governor. The greatest decrease in the Democratic vote occurred in the whitest outstate municipalities, with less than 5% minority, where the Democratic vote for Governor dropped 4.5 points.

Twin Cities Racial and Voting Compositions

The Twin Cities metro is growing, has increasing diversity and the largest share of racially diverse suburbs, and has the largest swing in the Democratic vote in the state's latest election. As shown on the map below, the central cities and first-ring suburbs voted strongly for Democrat Tim Walz, who captured over 60% of the (two-party) vote in these areas, as well as in a few second ring suburbs, including Bloomington, Eagan and Minnetonka. Walz also won almost all second ring suburbs and about half of the third ring suburbs, but did less well in outer ring suburbs and exurban (rural) municipalities, as did most democratic candidates.

Much of the outer bands of suburbs captured by Walz are racially diverse and have had recent growth in both population and racial minorities, as is shown by comparing the two maps below and charts above. Both the cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul, as well as several inner ring suburbs have even greater racial diversity, while beyond the third ring of suburbs, municipalities are predominately white, and largely undeveloped.
The relationship between metro area racial diversity and democratic voting is better illustrated by a graph. It is clear that there is a strong positive correlation between the percentage minority and the percentage voting Democratic in municipalities, as shown on the chart below. As the percentage of racial minorities rises across municipalities, so does the percentage voting democratic in the 2018 gubernatorial election, in a curvilinear fashion.  According to this model, a municipality typically starts voting Democratic when it has a population that is 13% minority.  

One misleading feature of the chart below is that it does not account for the voting population size of municipalities. When doing so, it is clear that the Twin Cities is even more Democratic than might first appear, as most of the larger suburbs, including the cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul, fall above 50% Democratic voting line.

Twin Cities: Changes in Five Election Cycles  

How much more the Twin Cities metro has become Democratic can be seen below in the animated map of percentage voting Democratic. In the last five election races, either presidential or gubernatorial, the area that Democratic candidates have won has, for the most part, consecutively expanded across metropolitan space. 

In 2010, Democratic Governor Dayton’s strongest support (>=60% of vote) came mainly from the central cities and a handful of first-ring suburbs, winning few of the second ring suburbs, while in 2018, Democratic Governor Walz, has moderate to strong support in most second ring suburbs, locations that Dayton largely lost in 2010.

There is also a consistent positive correlation between metro area racial diversity and democratic voting across the five elections, with some fluctuation of the overall share voting Democratic and discrepancy when the typical municipality begins to start voting Democratic. 

All elections were won by Democrats, at varying margins of victory. In 2010 Governor Dayton won by somewhat smaller margins in the metro, and he tended to win in a municipality when it was 29% or more minority. In the next election, Obama gained an even greater share of the vote, typically winning municipalities with 14% or more minority. 

In 2014 and 2016 the Democratic municipal win margins and the minority percentage shares both dropped and it became harder for a Democrat to win in municipalities with under 20% minority. And up to the present election, Governor Walz typically won municipalities with 13% or more minority (and won all but one municipality with over 20% minority).

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Turnout in the 2018 Minnesota General Election

Following reporting about Minnesota's 2018 general election, including postings on statewide races and state representative races, today the IMO blog continues its coverage, looking into voter turnout, which was historically high for a midterm election. Turnout rates were highest in the Twin Cities metro and for women across the state, together significantly helping Democrats gain victories in races across statewide offices. 

Election Turnout Trends

A common occurrence with election cycles is that the percentage of residents turning out to vote dips during midterm elections. This decline in turnout, however, did not happen at the same level in the 2018 election, as it did in previous midterms in 2010 and 2014, as shown in the chart below.  Places across Minnesota had higher turnout, with some locations outpacing others in gaining votes.

In 2018, the Twin Cities suburbs had the highest turnout rates in the state, nearly 65%, a rate much higher than in the prior two midterm elections. The combined cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul had the next highest rate, about 58%, slightly surpassing the overall Outstate vote for the first time since 2008 when Obama first was elected as U.S. President. 

Turnout in Outstate Minnesota was much lower than in the Twin Cities suburbs, equally lower in both the cities of Duluth, Rochester and St. Cloud and in the remaining Outstate area. This was unlike the other midterm elections, when these central cities lagged the rest of Outstate by 5 to 10 percentage points

The turnout rate was calculated taking the total number of votes for president and total votes for governor (during the midterm) divided into the number of persons age 18 and over.  
The Twin Cities suburbs includes municipalities from Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, Scott Washington and Wright Counties, and does not include Chisago and Isanti Counties because their data was not reported in the sample data.
Data is from the Minnesota Secretary of State and U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey 1 year sample data.

The chart below better shows the differences in the magnitude of change between 2018 and the prior two elections. The cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul had the largest increase in voter turnout from the last midterm, an increase of 17.3 percentage points in the turnout rate from 2014. The Twin Cities suburbs and the other Outstate central cities also had double digit increases in the turnout rate, while the rest of Outstate Minnesota had a significant increase, but one that was comparably smaller than other locations--about half that of the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul.

As is typical between a presidential and midterm election, turnout rates dropped between 2016 and 2018, but fell far less than usual, as shown on the chart above.  As shown on the chart below, the cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul had the smallest drop off, only -5.8 points, followed by the Twin Cities suburbs (-8.8) and other central cities (-7.9). The drop in the turnout rate was largest in the non-central city portion of Outstate Minnesota (-10.6).

Election Turnout Geography

The map below shows the percentage of the voting age population that cast a ballot for governor in 2018 by Minnesota municipalities. Such turnout was high across the state with clusters of very high turnout (rates of 80 percent or more) scattered across the state. The county inset on the map shows that turnout was somewhat greater in Northeast, North Central, West and Southeast Minnesota. More important to the accumulation of votes, is the cluster of high turnout municipalities in the more populous 11-county Twin Cities metro area. As shown on the map's charts, turnout was significantly higher in the Twin Cities (62.7%) than in Outstate Minnesota (57.2%).
Click to view pdf version of map

In the Twin Cities' metro, turnout was above average in most municipalities throughout the area, but was consistently high (rates of 70% or more) in outer ring suburbs near the edge of the built up urban area, except on the north edge of the metro. Many first and second ring suburbs also had high turnout rates, with first-ring Edina and Mendota Heights having rates in excess of 80%. 

While Minneapolis' turnout rate was higher than average, and St. Paul's was lower than average, as shown on the map above, there are major differences in turnout when breaking the cities out by state legislative districts, as does the map below. Here turnout rates were high in more affluent districts in South Minneapolis and in Southwest St. Paul, but were lower in North and South Central (Phillips) Minneapolis, as well as in the North End and East Side of St. Paul, places with greater concentrations of racial minorities and poverty. Turnout rates also tended to be lower in inner-ring suburbs adjacent to low turnout city districts, most notably Brooklyn Center.
Click to view pdf version of map

How much did turnout change the results of the 2018 Election?

Changes in midterm voter turnout patterns (2014-2018) between Minnesota locations did benefit Democrats. Calculated from the data above, Democrats in statewide races gained 1 to 2 percentage points in the share of total votes, more than they would have if the 2014 turnout rates prevailed in 2018.  This figure is based on voters turning out across municipalities at the same rate as they did in 2014 and with shares of voting across parties kept the same as in 2018.

Who turned out to vote also impacted the election, and in this regard, women led the way in helping the Democrats gain victories, while demographics such as age and income had less of an impact in the statewide racesDemocrats in statewide races gained around an additional percentage point of the total share of the vote, more than they would have if the total vote share for women remained the same as 2014's, and if women's vote share across parties in 2018 was held constant.

Data used to calculate the share of women voting comes from NBC exit polls for Minnesota in 2014 and 2018. The chart below shows the results for the U.S. Senate seat formerly held by Democrat Al Franken, and in it the percentage share of the total vote by gender (columns) and the percentage of votes for parties by men and women in the last two midterm elections (column sections).  

The share of of the total vote by women climbed from 51% in 2014 to 54% in 2018. Just as important, the share of women voting for Democrats rose from 58% to 61%. A large part of the gain was due to the increase of 'Independent' women voters who gained a 3 percentage point share of the total vote between 2014 and 2018, and whose Democratic voting percentage was 60%--a full 10 percentage points higher than it was in 2014. 

Similar demographic trends found in this U.S. Senate special election race can be found in the State Governor and U.S. Senate (Klobachar's seat) elections, with women increasing in the share of the total votes and increasingly voting Democratic. 

While changes in turnout between locations and genders helps explain roughly one-third of the Democratic margins of victory in 2018, it is notable that voters tended to more often cast ballots for Democrats in statewide elections than they did in the last midterm, regardless of their location or their demographic profiles.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Mapping the 2018 Minnesota Legislative House Election Results

Following yesterday’s IMO blog, where statewide election results for many major races were reported at the precinct-level, today we report on the results of the Minnesota State House elections at the legislative district-level.  Here Democrats won the majority in the 2018 Minnesota State House, capturing 75 of the 134 seats, and like many other current election contests, they did well in urban portions of the Twin Cities metro, in Northeastern Minnesota, in the Moorhead area and in various districts in Southeastern Minnesota.

Minnesota House of Representatives

The map series below shows that Democrats have held the state house in two of the last four election cycles, in 2012 and 2018, while Republicans held the majority in 2014 and 2016. In 2012, Democrats held 73 seats, including more Outstate districts than in 2018— as shown on the map below, a more expanded blue area in Northeastern and Western Minnesota, as well along the I-35 corridor south of the Twin Cities. While the Democrats lost many of these rural districts by 2018, they gained even more overall seats this year (n=75) by expanding their victories in the metro, capturing most districts in the Twin Cities urbanized area.

Republicans have consistently continued to take away Outstate seats from Democrats, and have held seats in the outer ring suburbs of the Twin Cities in 2012, 2014 and 2016, even encroaching closer to first ring suburbs in 2016. Yet in 2018, they lost seats in every second ring Twin Cities' suburb.

House Control in Four Election Cycles

The maps below show which party now holds house districts in 2018, by how many times the winning party held them over the last four election cycles. Republicans have consistently held the house in a diagonal band across the state, interrupted by the Twin Cities and the Moorhead and Winona areas. This consistency can also be seen Outstate across Southwest Minnesota.

Democrats, on the other hand, have consistently won seats in the Twin Cities’ central cities, inner suburbs and roughly half of the second ring suburbs.  They have also done well in the Duluth area and the Iron Range in Northeastern Minnesota, as well as in some districts containing Outstate cities, including Austin, Mankato, Moorhead, Rochester and Winona.


House Control by Margins of Victory

Another way to consider how stable the latest house election results might be is to determine the the margins of victory for the districts in 2018. Here the Republican margins of victory are highest (won by more than 30 percentage points) West and Northwest of the Twin Cities and in the Northwestern and Southwestern corners of the state. For Democrats, the victory margins are highest in Minneapolis and Saint Paul, and their inner ring suburbs, as well as Outstate in Duluth, Moorhead and Winona.

Most of districts that were won with low margins of victory (won by less than 10 percentage points) were in the Twin Cities’ second and outer ring suburbs, including 18 of the 24 low margin districts. Overall, Democrats won 16 out of 24 of these districts, and of those 16, only 1 was held by Democrats in 2016. Clearly 2020 looks like it will be shaping up to be a battle over the suburbs. 


Over the course of four state house election cycles, Republicans have increased the margins of victory in Outstate Minnesota. While the loss of the Democratic Outstate vote has contributed to Republican majority houses in 2014 and 2016, the blue wave across Twin Cities’ suburbs offset such losses for Democrats whose party reached a convincing victory in 2018. Future Republican success is unlikely without the party taking the into consideration issues and concerns of metro area voters.

Conversely, Democrats still gain significant shares of Minnesota’s Outstate vote. Northeast Minnesota, for instance, has been reliably voting Democratic across races and time periods, and many smaller Outstate cities have consistently voted Democratic as well. While Democrats may need to focus on solidifying Twin Cities’ metro gains, it would be detrimental for them to ignore Outstate Minnesota, especially in the smaller metro areas outside of the Twin Cities’ region.

Mapping the 2018 Minnesota General Election Results

Minnesota’s general election was held two days ago, Tuesday, November 6th, resulting in a high turnout for a midterm election and a victory for Democrats in statewide races.  The Institute on Metropolitan Opportunity has mapped the results of most of the major races at the precinct-level, including the State Governor's and Attorney General's races, the contest for two U.S. Senate seats and the statewide results for the U.S. Congress. 

Democrats fared well, in large part, because the Twin Cities metro area cast a large share of the votes, and in the metro, the party has sustained strong support from voters. In 2018, the Twin Cities cast 63% of the state’s midterm vote, a percentage point higher than its share in the 2016 U.S. Presidential election. Democrats also fared better in Outstate Minnesota, compared to 2016, as none of the Republicans in the 2018 statewide races gained 55% of the Outstate vote, as President Trump did in 2016. 

Click on maps to enlarge or below the images to link to map in pdf format

State Governor:

State Attorney General:

Some democratic candidates, such as Keith Ellison, won in large part because of strong turnout and support in the central cities and inner suburban metro area, while also gaining some Outstate support in Northeast Minnesota and in a small collection of counties that marginally supported the democratic party. On the other end of the results, Amy Klobuchar captured not only most of the urbanized portion of the Twin Cities, but won a larger share of votes with Minnesota's Outstate voters than her opponent, Jim Newberger. 

Two favorable results for the Republicans included the winning of U.S. 8th District’s Pete Stauber, who outperformed his other republican candidates in the Iron Range, beating opponent Joe Radinovich, and the victory of U.S. 1st District’s Jim Hagedorn, who took the seat formerly occupied by now State Governor Tim Walz. On the other hand, Republican’s lost two congressional seats found in the Twin Cities metro, including Erik Paulsen’s seat, mostly covering suburban Hennepin County and Jason Lewis’ seat, which covers both suburban Dakota and Scott Counties.

U.S. Senate:

U.S. Senate (Special):

U.S. Congress:

Twin Cities Results and Urban Area:

Much of the competition for the Twin Cities’ metro vote happens from the second ring suburbs to the perimeter of the built-up urban area, which includes a number of municipalities that have recently become more racially diverse. The image below shows how the core of the urban area is solidly democratic and the rural and exurban portion of the metro is solidly republican, while the intensity of democratic support waxes and wanes concentrically from the inner suburbs to outer portions of the Twin Cities' urban area, varying according to election races and candidates.

 Link to Twin Cities-specific election results maps for: