In this blog post, I’ve included a spreadsheet that analyzes the competitiveness of the 2020 Minnesota Senate races. I determined that only 23 races out of 67 are competitive. Fifteen of those include an incumbent Republican and eight include an incumbent DFLer. I then categorized the races into five levels of competitiveness.
This post is a follow-up to my January 7, 2020, post where I provided a spreadsheet that looked at Minnesota House races according to the incumbent, announced opponent, and margin of victory in 2018. To develop both documents, I used a very helpful article that is being constantly updated at Minnpost.com called “Whose Running for the Minnesota Legislature in 2020.” I gathered the margin of victory data from the MN Secretary of State website.
The Senate spreadsheet proved to be more challenging than the House spreadsheet since the latter looked only at the margin of victory in 2018. To determine the competitiveness of Senate races, I looked at 1) the margin of victory for the incumbent senator in 2016 and 2) the margins of victory for the two incumbent House representatives in the Senate District in 2018. It quickly became apparent that if the incumbent senator and both incumbent representatives were from the same party, and all had won their elections by more than a 15 percentage points margin of victory, that district would very likely be an easy win for the incumbent senator. Twenty-four DFL Senate districts and 20 GOP Senate districts fall into this category.
I then divided the competitive races into five categories. To make the categories easier to understand, each is described from the DFL viewpoint. To get the GOP viewpoint, reverse GOP and DFL in the descriptions.
DFL Highest Priority Targeted Districts
Category 1: GOP senator, 2 DFL representatives. District changed from a GOP district in 2016 to a DFL district in 2018.
Category 2: GOP senator, 1 DFL representative, 1 GOP representative. DFL representative’s winning margin in 2018 at least 15 points higher than GOP representative’s winning margin. DFL leaning district.
Category 3: GOP senator, 1 DFL representative, 1 GOP representative. GOP senator’s winning margin in 2016 less than 15 points. DFL representative’s winning margin in 2018 about even with GOP representative’s winning margin. Toss-up district.
Other DFL Targeted Districts
Category 4: GOP senator, 1 DFL representative, 1 GOP representative. Senator’s winning margin in 2016 greater than 15%. DFL representative’s winning margin in 2018 15% less than GOP representative’s winning margin. GOP leaning district.
Category 5: GOP senator, 2 GOP representatives. GOP senator won by less than 15% margin in 2016. One of the GOP representatives won by less than 15% in 2018. Upset possibility.
So, what did I find?
The DFL has 15 competitive races against incumbent Republicans:
Category 1: SD44, SD56
Category 2: SD26, SD28
Category 3: SD05, SD11, SD14
Category 4: SD20, SD 25, SD 33, SD34, SD38, SD39, SD55
Category 5: SD21
The GOP has eight competitive races against incumbent DFLers:
Category 1: SD58
Category 3: SD27, SD37, SD54
Category 4: SD36, SD48, SD53, SD57
The DFL has an announced candidate in every competitive race. The GOP has an announced candidate in only four.
Here is the bottom line. The Minnesota Senate is currently controlled by the Republicans 35 to 32. The Democrats need to flip two seats without losing any races to win control. This analysis shows that they have a pretty good chance to do that.
A word of caution: I am not a Democratic insider, so I have no idea what fancy analytics the DFL and the GOP are using to determine the 2020 Senate races to target. But I’m involved enough politically to know that my list of districts is probably not that much different from the professional lists of the districts that are being targeted by the two political parties.
Here is my “ask” of Democratic voters who live in safe DFL Senate districts. Please contribute to candidates in Categories 1 and 2 races: Matt Little in SD58, Ann Johnson Stewart in SD44, Sara Kruger in SD28, and the eventually endorsed candidates in SD56 and SD26.
If you want to do more, please contribute the Category 3 races: Aric Putnam in SD14, Michelle Lee in SD11, and the eventually endorsed candidate in SD05. And, if you really want to stretch, go door-knocking for a Democratic Senate candidate in a competitive district. You will find me this year door-knocking for Bonnie Westlin, who is running against Warren Limmer in SD34. Feel free to join me.
Click on this link to view the Excel Spreadsheet
Status of 2020 MN Senate Races One Sheet