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Trump dominates again in lakes area, but Biden gains ground compared to Clinton’s 2016 showing

Biden’s statewide success and marginal improvements in the lakes area didn’t make a dent in the sea of red across much of rural Minnesota, however.

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Jen and Jay Avery, along with their sons Taylor and Blake, work with head judge Katie Kaufman Tuesday, Nov. 3, to receive their ballots at the Essentia Health Sports Center in Brainerd. The lobby of the civic center was filled with election workers and voters on Election Day. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch
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With a significantly higher number of voters this year compared to the 2016 presidential election, along with a smaller presence of third-party candidates, President Donald Trump continued to dominate among lakes area voters.

But former Vice President Joe Biden also outperformed his 2016 Democratic counterpart in nearly every area county as well as the 8th Congressional District as a whole, narrowing the margin of support for Trump in some cases. These differences played a small role in Biden’s decisive statewide win Tuesday, Nov. 3, with Biden earning 232,545 more votes than Trump, a margin of 7.12% — a much better showing than former Sen. Hillary Clinton, who garnered just 42,743 more votes than Trump in 2016. Vote totals are not yet final in the state as absentee and mail ballots continue to be processed by election officials.

RELATED: Crow Wing County sets record voter turnout
Biden’s statewide success and marginal improvements in the lakes area didn’t make a dent in the sea of red across much of rural Minnesota, however. The closest Biden came to Trump’s vote tally in any of the seven north-central Minnesota counties occurred in Cass County, where Trump earned 25.73% more of the votes — 61.9% for Trump and 36.17% for Biden.

While garnering a higher percentage of the vote totals in the congressional district and Crow Wing County compared to Clinton in 2016, Biden also kept the race closer among local voters in both instances. In Cass County, Trump earned a smaller percentage of the electorate than he did in 2016, while Biden earned 5.24% more votes than Clinton.

RELATED: Trump wins big among lakes area voters
In the 8th, Trump received 14.37% more of the votes than Biden, but compared to his 15.49% margin over Clinton in 2016, that amounted to a smaller gap by 1.12%. The gap shrunk even more in Crow Wing and Cass counties. Biden narrowed the margin by 1.81% in Crow Wing County, making the split 63.91% Trump to 34.18% Biden. And, significantly, the margin narrowed by 4% in Cass.

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But the president widened his margin of support in the rest of the region: voters in Aitkin, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Todd and Wadena counties all favored Trump even more than they did in 2016. Again, Biden outperformed Clinton in these counties as well, with the exception of Mille Lacs County. In 2016 in Mille Lacs, Trump earned 64.07% of the vote to Clinton’s 28.5%. In 2020, Trump increased his portion of the votes to 71.51%, while Biden earned just 26.33%.

Closer look at Crow Wing

Within Crow Wing County, Biden slightly improved upon Clinton’s showing by winning two precincts outright and tying Trump in a third, tiny Brainerd precinct.

Voters in north Brainerd — Ward 2, Precinct 2 — preferred Biden by 34-vote margin, 357 to 323. Voters in that precinct also preferred the victorious Sen. Tina Smith over challenger Jason Lewis by a 31-vote margin and Quinn Nystrom over winner U.S. Rep. Pete Stauber, R-Duluth, by 23 votes. In 2016, Trump defeated Clinton in north Brainerd by 20 votes — 289 to 269.

The other precinct in which Biden earned more votes than Trump was Ross Lake Township in the northeastern corner of Crow Wing, which had 156 registered voters as of 7 a.m. Tuesday. Biden earned 75 votes there while Trump earned 66. In 2016, 63 voters in Ross Lake preferred Trump to Clinton’s 53.

In the county’s three largest population centers — Brainerd, Baxter and Unorganized Territory — high turnout was again reflected by more voters casting ballots overall than in 2016, for both Trump and the Democratic opponent. Biden narrowed the gap with Trump compared to Clinton in both Brainerd and Baxter, with Baxter seeing the most movement. In 2016, Trump topped Clinton by 1,174 votes in Baxter. This year, Trump earned 957 more votes than Biden, a difference of 217. On the flip side, Trump earned more support in Unorganized Territory in 2020 than he did in 2016, increasing the gap by 19 votes compared to his margin over Clinton.

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CHELSEY PERKINS may be reached at 218-855-5874 or chelsey.perkins@brainerddispatch.com . Follow on Twitter at twitter.com/DispatchChelsey .
Chelsey Perkins is the community editor of the Brainerd Dispatch. A lakes area native, Perkins joined the Dispatch staff in 2014. She is the Crow Wing County government beat reporter and the producer and primary host of the "Brainerd Dispatch Minute" podcast.
Reach her at chelsey.perkins@brainerddispatch.com or at 218-855-5874 and find @DispatchChelsey on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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