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Minnesota was one of the last big question marks in the redistricting process, after nearly a year of being in a holding pattern caused by a deadlock between Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton and the Republican-held legislature. That led to a court-drawn map, which was unveiled Tuesday. And like many court-drawn maps in states where there wasn't a lot of population growth or VRA issues, it's a map that seeks to preserve the old boundaries as much as possible.

MN congressional map
(click for larger)
You'd barely notice anything changed at all if you glanced at the statewide map: The lines for the rural 1st, 7th and 8th districts barely moved at all. That means the battle for the 8th—probably the most competitive House race we'll have in Minnesota in 2012—will be fought on the same turf that already exists, balancing Democratic Duluth and the Iron Range against GOP-friendly exurbs far north of Minneapolis in a Democratic-leaning district that GOP freshman Chip Cravaack will be hard-pressed to keep. (The 1st stays pretty even, PVI-wise, meaning that Democrat Tim Walz will continue to be a target, and the 7th leans GOP at the presidential level, meaning that the Democrats may have trouble holding this one if Colin Peterson retires this decade.)

Changes are a little more apparent when you look at the close-up map of the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. The district that took the biggest hit, for the Democrats, was Betty McCollum's 4th, centered on St. Paul, but picking up a much bigger piece of suburban Washington Co. to its east. Thanks to dark-blue St. Paul, though, McCollum can easily absorb more GOP voters, and it stays a safe district, around 63 percent Obama. One of those new constituents is a certain Michele Bachmann, whose town of Stillwater in Washington Co. is now in the 4th. Does that mean we'll see a titanic member-versus-member primary from Bachmann (who said Monday she's running for reelection, regardless of how the map turns out)? Uh, no. Bachmann's 6th, an exurban arc running around the west and north of the MSP area, is still solidly GOP (getting a point redder), and is vacant, so she'll probably just pack her carpetbag and keep her old district.

[UPDATE: Make that definitely: She's already out with an announcement that she's staying in the 6th. The phrasing of her announcement where she justifies running in a district where she doesn't live is a little weird, though, as she says:

I'll continue my service to the people in the district where I essentially went to junior high, high school, college, had my babies born and we built our business and we have our church and our family.
Bachmann went to college at Winona State University, which, you'll notice, is way down in the state's SE corner in MN-01. Well, I guess it's okay as long as she qualifies it with "essentially."]
MN congressional map (metro area)
(click for larger)
The 3rd district, in Minneapolis's western suburbs in Hennepin Co., is a swingy district that's always been a tempting just-out-of-reach target for Democrats, and it looks like it'll stay that way for a while longer. GOPer Eric Paulsen gets a slightly redder district (by one-and-a-half points), as it now spreads out a little further into exurban Carver Co., while losing Democrat-friendly inner-ring suburb Brooklyn Center. (The 5th, which is mostly Minneapolis proper, continues to be safely Democratic, and the 2nd, which is southern suburbs, continues to lean GOP, though it moved about two points in the Democratic direction. [UPDATE: "Lean GOP" may actually be closer to "swing" here, as now the 2nd is actually an Obama district, barely, at 50.5%. With the right Democrat, or a John Kline retirement, this could be a real race someday.])

The net result of all this? No different than if there hadn't been any redistricting at all: look for MN-01, MN-04, MN-05 and MN-07 to stay in Democratic hands, MN-02, MN-03, and MN-06 to stay GOP, and for a battle royale in the tossup MN-08.

We'll update later today as we get CD redistribution data. In the meantime, if you want further discussion, there's more at MN Progressive Project.

UPDATE: And as promised, here's the distribution analysis:

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