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Starting off with the big race of the night, MN-8 DFL primary:
Rick Nolan won the race 38-32-29 over Tarryl Clark and jeff Anderson respectively. Now, this race was closer than I had anticipated it would be, but the dynamics played out more or less how I figured it would. I believe that Clark’s last-minute mud-slinging campaign backed by her cash advantage made the race closer than it otherwise would have been a week or two ago. Here is the breakdown by region:

“Iron Range”

County    J. Anderson    T. Clark    R. Nolan
St. Louis    10,353    5,995      6,914
Aitkin            172            545            698
Carlton    1,070     1,278     1,360
Cook            124            305            544
Lake            487            478           647
Koochiching    166            404            561
Itasca    1,282            1,711            1,844

St. Louis County is by far the largest county to the district, and is home to the Anderson’s home of Duluth, far and away the largest city in the district. St. Louis County also is the heart of the Iron Range, and home to Ely, where Anderson was born and raised. Anderson won St. Louis County, but not nearly by the margin and number of votes that he needed to overcome his weakness (and lack of name recognition) in other parts of the district. One thing of note: I was personally surprised by Anderson’s rather weak performance in Duluth overall. He really needed to win Duluth with 60% of the vote to be competitive in the primary. I thought he could do it, but he didn’t get 60% in any precinct in Duluth, and that doomed his chance. Also, I was surprised by the fact that in some small Iron Range towns, like Babbitt, Anderson won with 70-80% of the vote. That was a huge surprise to me. Never underestimate the Rangers’ desire to back one of their own. Lesson learned.
Cook, Lake, Koochiching, Itasca, Carlton and Aitkin counties round out the rest of the “Range” counties. Rick Nolan won them all by varying margins. Culturally, these areas are generally very similar, with only southern Aitkin County being different. There is a swamp (a big one) between the cities of Aitkin and Hill City that acts as a very distinctive geological, as well as cultural boundary.

“North Woods”

County    J. Anderson    T. Clark    R. Nolan
Kanabec    349            982            534
Pine            368            926            738

Pine and Kanebec Counties are fairly culturally similar to the aforementioned Iron Range counties, but there are no taconite deposits this far south. Electorally, they still vote DFL at the federal level, albeit narrowly, and much less firmly than their northern neighbors (It has always been this way, not a trend). But locally, the Democratic Primaries are still effectively the General Election. Clark did her best in this region, winning both counties.

“The Lakes”

County    J. Anderson    T. Clark    R. Nolan
Crow Wing    396            888         2,537
Cass            188            611            843
Hubbard    152            453        447
Wadena    56            216            286
Beltrami    78            315            301

The Brainerd Lakes region is full of summer resorts and high dollar cabins owned by millionaires in Minneapolis, and around the country. (Tom Cruise’s cabin is on Cross Lake, for example). This area is built around the tourism industry, and is socioeconomically distinct from the iron mining communities to the northeast. Both are stunningly beautiful, and I recommend coming at least once (do it in the summer, if you don’t want to freeze). This area is also the childhood home, and current residence of one Rich Nolan. Now, 40 years ago he lived further south, and represented the old 6th district. After he left Washington, he returned to the area he grew up in, and hasn’t left since. Nolan’s home is in Brainerd itself, which is in Crow Wing County. Expectedly, Nolan won this county 2:1 over Anderson/Clark combined. Nolan also won Cass County and Wadena Count, and Clark narrowly won the corner of Beltrami County (Bemidji) that is in the the 8th, and Hubbard County, the latter by 8 votes over Nolan. In the General Election, having a candidate from Bainerd won’t be the worst thing in the world, as it should neutralize Cravaack’s relative strength in the high dollar Brainerd Lakes region.

“Corn Fields”

County    J. Anderson    T. Clark    R. Nolan
Morrison    160            563        709
Mille Lacs    145            390            435

Now, Morrison County is MUCH more agriculturally-driven than Mille Lacs County. Morrison is a lot more culturally similar to the neighboring 7th congressional district than the 8th, but the line had to be drawn somewhere. Mille Lacs County is partially agricultural, but it is really defined by Mille Lacs Lake and the large casino/reservation on its western shore. Nolan won 50% in Morrison County, which sort of surprised me, as this is as close to St. Cloud as the district gets. And St. Cloud, in Michele Bachmann’s 6th congressional district, is where Tarryl Clark lives. If Clark were to have had a shot, she would have had to have won Morrison County by a huge margin. The same goes for Mille Lacs County, but Nolan won that county as well.


County    J. Anderson    T. Clark    R. Nolan
Isanti     165            548        498
Chisago    299            962        994

These counties used to be considered rural, but the housing boom from about 1999-2007 stretched the housing developments out as far as Cambridge (Isanti County). But when the housing market crashed, not only did construction stop it its tracks, these counties started bleeding population. They are blood red electorally, but they are quickly losing influence as ceasing of exurban sprawl has lead to their quick decline. This is Cravaack country, and Democrats have long ignored the area, as they are fairly small, and they won’t vote for a Democrat not named Jeremy Kalin or Amy Klobuchar anyways. Nolan narrowly won Chisago County, and Clark narrowly won Isanti County.

TOTAL:    J. Anderson    T. Clark    R. Nolan
Total            16,010    17,570    20,890
            29%       32%            38%

Overall, this race was closer than it should have been due to last-minute outside spending on attack ads. But Clark really was doomed from the beginning because she has absolutely no base of support within the district, whereas Anderson and Nolan did.

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