On Election Day, Minnesota Democrats reclaimed both chambers of the state Legislature, which puts them in the unusual position of controlling the Capitol and the Governor’s office.
Incoming Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, said in a recent interview on TPT’s Almanac that a close look at the votes shows what a huge responsibility this win is for his party.
“I think Minnesotans are sending a pretty strong message to the Legislature,” Bakk said. “The interesting thing that I observed was the Democratic candidates for the state Senate got 100,000 more votes than President Obama. That means to me that 100,000 people in Minnesota voted for Mitt Romney for president and then they decided to vote for a Democratic candidate for the state Senate. I think there’s a message in that and a lot of responsibility in that, when you’ve got a large number of voters that really historically haven’t voted for a Democrat.”
It’s entirely true that Democrats got more votes than Republicans this election, but Bakk’s statement goes a bit too far.
First, Bakk misspoke when he said that “Democrats got 100,000 more votes than President Obama.” In fact, Obama got more votes.
Rather, Bakk explained to MPR that he meant to say that the margin of votes Senate Democrats received over Senate Republicans was 100,000 more than the margin between Obama and Romney’s votes.
“We beat our challenger by 100,000 votes more than he beat his. I think there’s some message in that,” Bakk said.
Bakk’s larger point is on shakier ground. He’s also arguing that more than 100,000 Minnesota voters voted for Mitt Romney and for DFL candidates, indicating historically Republican voters are now favoring the DFL.
It’s true that nearly 128,000 Minnesotans cast their ballot for Mitt Romney, but not for GOP Senators.
But it’s impossible to know whether those Minnesota Romney supporters also voted for Democrats or whether they didn’t vote at all because the Secretary of State doesn’t keep track of such things.
Whether he misspoke or not, Bakk’s numbers aren’t totally off. And clearly, Minnesotans favored legislative Democrats over Republicans this year.
But Bakk’s claim gets off track when he implies that Republicans who voted for Romney uniformly voted for DFL Senators, too. That may be the case in some instances, but it’s also possible that those Minnesotans didn’t vote for any legislative candidates. And because the Secretary of State doesn’t track keep that data, it’s impossible to say one way or another.
For taking this claim a step too far, Bakk gets a misleading.
TPT’s Alamanac, Nov. 16, 2012
Minnesota Secretary of State, Official Election Results 2012, accessed Nov. 28, 2012
Interview, Sen. Tom Bakk, Nov. 28, 2012