Daily Kos Election’s project to calculate the 2016 presidential results for every state legislative seat in the nation hits Minnesota. You can find our master list of states here, which we’ll be updating as we add new states; you can also find all our data from 2016 and past cycles here.
While Trump narrowly lost the Land of 10,000 Lakes 47-45, the court-drawn state legislative maps were very good for Team Red. Trump carried 39 of the 67 state Senate seats and 72 of the 134 state House districts. The GOP won a narrow 34-33 Senate majority in November, and expanded their majority in the House to 77-57. The Senate will next be up in 2020, while the House will be up next year.
While the House map wasn’t drawn as a GOP gerrymander, it very much helps the GOP stay in power. Four years ago, Obama defeated Romney by a wide 53-45 margin statewide, but he only carried 68 of the 134 House seats—a bare majority. This time, Clinton traded 13 Obama House seats for seven Romney seats.
Crossover voting also helped the House GOP last year quite a bit. While seven Democrats represent Trump constituencies, 12 Republicans hail from Clinton districts. Democratic state Rep. Paul Marquart in the rural northwestern HD-4B managed to win re-election 54-44 even as Trump carried his seat by a massive 57-35 margin, The Donald’s best performance in a Democratic-held seat. Four years before, Romney took this seat by a modest 51-47. The other six Democrats in Trump seats represent districts that backed Obama in 2012. The traditionally Democratic Iron Range in the northwest corner of the state dramatically swung toward Trump last year, but the area hasn’t abandoned Team Blue downballot yet.
Clinton’s best GOP-held House seat is HD-49A around Edina, a suburban Twin Cities seat that swung from 52-47 Obama to 60-33 Clinton. Republican Dario Anselmo narrowly unseated Democratic Rep. Ron Erhardt, an incumbent whose problems were largely his own. Of the remaining 11 Republicans in Clinton seats, seven represent districts that backed Romney.
Democrats last won a House majority in 2012, so it’s not at all impossible to imagine them retaking the majority next year. Still, they’ll need to defend a lot of Trump-friendly turf and flip several seats that still vote GOP downballot. One other way to illustrate Team Blue’s challenges is to sort each seat in each chamber by Trump's margin of victory over Clinton and see how the seat in the middle—known as the median seat—voted. Because Minnesota has an even number of House seats, we average the Clinton and Trump percentages for the middle two seats to come up with the median. The median point in the House backed Trump 47-44, a few points to the right of the state. Five Democrats hold seats more conservative than the median seat, while 15 Republicans represent seats to the left of it.
Back in 2012, the state Senate map was much better for Democrats, with Obama winning 38 of the 57 seats. But the bottom fell out for Team Blue last year, with Trump taking 11 Obama seats and losing only one Romney district. (To put it another way; Romney won the same number of Senate seats as he was losing badly statewide as Clinton did when she was narrowly winning.) Trump won the median seat 47-44.
Unlike in the House, crossover voting overall helped Team Blue far more than the GOP: Seven Senate Democrats hold Trump seats, while two Republicans hold Clinton Senate districts. Surprisingly, the most conservative Democratic-held Senate seat and Clinton’s best GOP-held seat are not only each represented by freshmen, they were held by the opposite party until last year. Democrat Matt Little won SD-58, located south of the Twin Cities, by a narrow 50.5-49.5 even as it swung from 56-42 Romney to 54-38 Trump.
In the Twin Cities suburbs, Republican Paul Anderson won SD-44, which was vacated by unsuccessful Democratic congressional candidate Terri Bonoff, by a very close 50.2-49.8 even though the seat went from 51-47 Obama all the way to 55-37 Clinton. Barring a party switch or a seat flipping in a special election, Anderson’s tiny win made all the difference in determining control of the Minnesota Senate for the next four years.