The website FiveThirtyEight is attempting to figure out Minnesota, trying to evaluate the reasons why DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar is so popular here and predicting whether that popularity — pretty much the bedrock of her presidential campaign — can translate to presidential success.
Now, these things usually end badly when out-of-staters try to tell us about us. But in the analysis posted Tuesday, FiveThirtyEight takes a pass on figuring out why we are the way we are — specifically why did Klobuchar register with white people without a college education and white people with college degrees?
Now, it is possible that both Klobuchar and [Sen. Tina]Smith have special appeal with white voters who don’t have a bachelor’s.
There may simply be something about Minnesota that gives Democrats there the ability to win this group of voters that national Democrats have a hard time reaching.
If so, we can’t completely dismiss the idea that Klobuchar is better equipped than other (non-Minnesota) Democrats currently in the presidential race to win back these non-college-educated white voters — she just might not be uniquely equipped to do so.
Curiously, the more elections analyst Nathaniel Rakich drills down to figure out Minnesota’s political landscape, the more impressive Klobuchar’s political success is.
I pushed beyond the county level and took a look at state House districts, which offer more detail. And in all 10 of the state’s wealthiest districts (by highest median household income), Klobuchar outperformed Smith by at least 8.7 points (statewide, remember, it was 7 points).
For example, in one House district that includes a handful of predominantly white suburbs northwest of the Twin Cities, the median household income is $112,623, and Klobuchar outran Smith by 10 points.
Klobuchar’s strong performance in high-income districts7 raises the possibility that she is at least as strong a candidate in white-collar areas as she is in blue-collar areas.
Where Klobuchar’s electoral chops are questioned, however, is in more diverse Minnesota districts.
There, FiveThirtyEight says, Klobuchar doesn’t find any more success than the politician the website uses as a “control group,” DFL Sen. Tina Smith.
In the nine state House districts where less than 50 percent of the population is non-Hispanic white, Klobuchar outran Smith by an average of just under 4 points, about half of her statewide advantage.
That jibes with the exit polls, which show Klobuchar doing just 4 points better than Smith (80 percent support vs. 76 percent support) with nonwhite voters statewide.
Because nonwhite voters make up 40 percent of the Democratic electorate, Rakich suggests that, at least to them, Klobuchar isn’t anything special.
“This could really hold her back in the primary, especially if her advantage among whites without a college degree isn’t as large as it looks,” he says.
Related: Some Minnesota Dems say Klobuchar isn’t progressive enough (MPR News)