Barack Obama’s sweep through most of the Midwest on Tuesday night was perhaps most notable for his victory in Indiana. But there were other historical oddities with Obama’s victory that occurred in the region, one of which was that, for the first time since 1936, a Democratic presidential nominee had a stronger performance in Wisconsin than in Minnesota.
For the past 17 elections, Minnesota voters have always backed Democratic candidates for President by a larger margin than Badger State voters – in victory or in loss. But this year, Obama carried Wisconsin by 13.1 points, and Minnesota by 10.2 points – a 2.9 stronger performance in Wisconsin.
In five of the 17 years (1948, 1952, 1956, 1968, 1976) Minnesota has been at least 11 points stronger than Wisconsin on the Democratic side of the ticket. In recent years, however, the gap has narrowed – with less than a 6-point difference in four of the last five presidential contests. Overall, Democrats had carried a 7.6-point advantage in Minnesota in presidential elections compared to Wisconsin during this span.
This result in 2008 was not an Election Day aberration, however. Minnesota was polling slightly more competitive than the Badger State for much of the election cycle –at first, perhaps buoyed by speculation that Governor Tim Pawlenty would be John McCain’s running mate. On Election Day, McCain perhaps also got a slight boost by having a strong and fairly well-regarded Republican running just below him on the ticket (Norm Coleman).
Historical Democratic Advantage in Minnesota Over Wisconsin in Presidential Races
2004: 3.1 points