Minnesota has voted Democratic in seven straight presidential elections, the longest such streak of any state in the country, but Kerry has a real fight on his hands. The state once known for its liberal politics and politicians such as Hubert H. Humphrey and Walter F. Mondale has been trending Republican for the better part of a decade, and the president hopes to cement that trend with a victory on Tuesday.
The candidates have spent so much time in Minnesota this year that commentator David Lebedoff said, "It's an ugly baby indeed who hasn't been kissed by a presidential candidate in Minnesota this year."
Bush campaigned in the Twin Cities yesterday, and Cheney went all the way to International Falls last week to hunt for votes. Edwards plans one more trip, but Kerry is not expected to return again.
The polls have offered no clear guidance, except to suggest the race is extremely close. State strategists give a slight edge to Kerry, based in part on the state's history, but Republicans believe an upset is still possible. Kerry picked up the endorsement of former independent governor Jesse Ventura, but nobody thinks that alone will mean much on Tuesday.
Bush came within two points of winning in 2000, and the key for him is to put together a strong vote in the suburbs of the Twin Cities, capture exurban bellwether Anoka County, and, by playing on the God, gays and guns trilogy, bring in a solid vote in the rural northwest part of the state. But that might not be enough if Kerry rallies the urban areas and if his get-out-the-vote operation produces the kind of turnout his team is expecting.
No other major races clog the ballot or compete for voters' attention, and in the one competitive House race, Rep. Mark Kennedy (R) is narrowly favored to retain his seat against Patty Wetterling (D).