ST. PAUL — With the close of polls in Minnesota, President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden now wait to see who will take the North Star State’s 10 electorial college votes after months of heated battle.
Across the country and in Minnesota, elections officials caution that final vote tallies may take days or weeks to certify, and vote totals will likely fluctuate as local elections workers continue to process and count ballots. Significantly higher mail-in voting turnout due to the coronavirus pandemic could make the counting process longer than in previous elections, but even in typical years, election results are not typically certified by states on election night.
Minnesota state elections officials did get a running start tabulating swaths of mail-in votes, having had special permission to begin opening and counting mail-in ballots two weeks before Election Day, in light of anticipated high vote-by-mail turnout.
Those projections proved accurate: According to the Minnesota Secretary of State, as of Monday, Nov. 2, the day before Election Day, the state had received over 2 million applications for absentee ballots, and over 1.7 million had been returned to elections offices —shattering previous elections’ absentee ballot records.
Despite its longest-in-the-nation string of wins for Democratic presidential nominees, Minnesota emerged as a battleground state in Biden and Trump’s race to the White House. Trump lost the state to then-Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in 2016 by less than 2 percentage points, and since then he and campaigners set their sights on flipping the state red for the first time since 1976.
With the echo of nearby Wisconsin and Michigan’s surprise Trump win in 2016 still ringing, both he and Biden paid Minnesota a visit in their final leg of campaigning on Friday, Oct. 30. Biden touched down for a drive-in rally at the state fairgrounds in St. Paul — despite telling pool reporters earlier that morning that he was not worried about winning the state — and Trump held a rally in Rochester.
Democrats can reliably depend upon Minneapolis and Saint Paul voters to trend blue; it’s just a matter of turnout and polling accessibility for those in the Twin Cities. The suburbs and Greater Minnesota, though, have become heated political battleground for both parties thanks to enthusiasm for Trump in these regions, throwing Democrats a wild card in what has been a reliably blue state for decades.