5 things to know about Minnesota's election
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota voters are weighing in on dozens of races, including ballot initiatives about gay marriage and voter ID, the presidential race, representatives for Congress and the U.S. Senate. Here's a few things worth knowing about election day in Minnesota:
1. THE STREAK
Through presidential landslides and squeakers, Minnesota has been a place Democrats could count on. The party's nominee has won the state in every election since 1976. That's nine in a row, a Democratic streak unmatched anywhere in the country. Richard Nixon was the last Republican to come out on top, in 1972. That history was one reason Mitt Romney seemed ready to concede Minnesota — right up until a final-week TV ad blitz and a quick visit from Paul Ryan.
1. DOING NOTHING MEANS NO
Voters deciding two constitutional amendments — one defining marriage and the other dictating voting rules — are weighing in just by showing up. To prevail, constitutional amendments require affirmative support from a majority of voters in the election. Ballots with the questions left blank automatically go in the "no" column.
1. RECOUNT READY
Minnesota's election motto of late: Why count them once when you can double the fun? The last two statewide elections have yielded recounts. The 2008 Senate race wasn't decided until Democrat Al Franken prevailed in court during the summer of 2009. The 2010 governor's race didn't wrap up until nearly Christmas. A recount is automatic when candidates are separated by less than one-half of 1 percent of the total votes cast. The Minnesota Secretary of State's office doesn't consider ballot measures eligible for automatic recounts, though court challenges could follow a close finish.
1. LOOK NORTH
The 8th Congressional District showdown between freshman GOP Rep. Chip Cravaack and former Democratic Rep. Rick Nolan was one of the nation's most heavily contested, and therefore among the most expensive. It was a surprise pickup for Republicans in 2010 and a prime target of Democrats in 2012. Heading into the election, Minnesota's U.S. House delegation was evenly split between four Republicans and four Democrats. That balance would matter if a deadlocked presidential race goes to Congress because each state gets a single vote based on its delegation makeup.
1. LET THE CAMPAIGN BEGIN (AGAIN)
Aside from the amendment battles and a few hot regional campaigns, Minnesota had a quiet election season. But that calm gets shattered come Wednesday, the unofficial start of the 2014 campaign. Consider the stakes: Gov. Mark Dayton and Sen. Al Franken, two Democrats who eked out victories, are up for re-election. So are the other three statewide officeholders, currently occupied by Democrats as well. Republicans haven't been shut out of statewide office since 1979, so expect the scramble to start soon.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.