Minnesota is a bellwether in the 2018 midterm elections. See what the latest surveys and forecasts show about the races for governor, attorney general, U.S. Senate, and Minnesota’s eight Congressional races. Updated through the election as new polls are available.

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Why poll-watch Minnesota? In addition to being the location of the Lab’s world headquarters, Minnesota has become an increasingly purple state. Despite having the nation’s most consistent Democratic presidential voting record over the past 50 years:

  • President Trump lost by only 1.5 percentage points in 2016.

  • Heading into the 2018 midterms, four of Minnesota’s eight congressional seats are occupied by someone from the party opposite its presidential vote. Additionally, Minnesota’s Governor and U.S. Senators are Democrats (officially DFLers in MN) while Republicans hold majorities in both chambers of the state’s legislature.

Let’s see what Minnesotans are thinking about President Trump and key races, based on a round-up of non-partisan polls.

President Trump: approval ratings

While not on the ballot this November, Trump’s personality and policies are a key feature in many races, with many candidates seeking to distance themselves or affiliate themselves with him.

In the most recent poll President Trump’s disapproval rate, 56 percent, was a statistically significant 18 percentage points higher than his 38 percent job approval rate.

President Trump’s job approval ratings in Minnesota

Trump Job Approval, MN Poll Watch 18 10/11/18
APM Research Lab
Note: Dotted lines represent margins of error around point estimates. Target population = registered voters (diamonds) or all adults (triangles).
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Governor: Johnson (R) v. Walz (DFL)

Two-term Democratic Governor Mark Dayton is vacating his seat. Republican Jeff Johnson, currently a Hennepin County commissioner, is facing off with Democrat Tim Walz, currently a U.S. House member representing Minnesota’s 1st Congressional District. Johnson’s running mate, Donna Bergstrom, is a retired Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel living in Duluth. Peggy Flanagan, running for Lieutenant Governor on the DFL ticket, is a member of the Minnesota House of Representatives. Bergstrom is a member of the Red Lake Nation, and Flanagan is member of the White Earth Nation; either ticket would put an indigenous woman in the Lieutenant Governor’s seat for the first time.

Walz prevailed in the election by an 11 percentage point margin. Polls consistently had him leading the race. The most recent poll, conducted by SurveyUSA on behalf of KSTP just one week prior to the election, most closely matched the final result.

Minnesota Governor’s Race: Jeff Johnson (R) v. Tim Walz (DFL)

MN Poll Watch 2018 Governor
APM Research Lab
Note: Dotted lines represent margins of error around point estimates.


As of 11/6 (prior to election results), leading political forecasters had rated Minnesota’s governor’s race as follows:

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Attorney General: Ellison (DFL) v. Wardlow (R)

Democrat Keith Ellison, who currently represents the Minneapolis-dominated 5th Congressional District, is vying for the attorney general’s office, which Lori Swanson (DFL) opened when she decided to run for governor. The Republican candidate is Doug Wardlow, attorney and former Minnesota House member representing a suburban district north of St. Paul.

Ellison prevailed in the election by a four percentage point margin. Notably, Grassroots-Legalize Cannabis candidate Noah Johnson, received 6 percent of the votes. Polls showed a close race throughout the election. The most recent poll, conducted by SurveyUSA on behalf of KSTP just one week prior to the election, most closely matched the final result.

Minnesota Attorney General’s Race: Doug Wardlow (R) v. Keith Ellison (DFL)

MN Poll Watch 2018 Attorney General
APM Research Lab
Note: Dotted lines represent margins of error around point estimates.
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U.S. Senate: Klobuchar (DFL)* v. Newberger (R)

Incumbent (*) DFLer Amy Klobuchar is seeking reelection to the seat she has occupied since 2007. Republican challenger Jim Newberger is a member of the Minnesota House, representing District 15B in central Minnesota. He is also a paramedic and a self-proclaimed supporter of President Trump.

Klobuchar prevailed in the election by a 24 percentage point margin. Polls consistently had her leading the race. The most recent poll, conducted by SurveyUSA on behalf of KSTP just one week prior to the election, most closely matched the final result.

U.S. Senate Race: Amy Klobuchar (DFL)* v. Jim Newberger (R)

MN Poll Watch 2018 Senate
APM Research Lab
Note: Dotted lines represent margins of error around point estimates. *Incumbent.

As of 11/6 (prior to election results), leading political forecasters had rated this race as follows:

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U.S. Senate: Smith (DFL)* v. Housley (R)

Former Lieutenant Governor, incumbent (*) Democrat Tina Smith was appointed to fill this seat when Al Franken resigned in early 2018. Thus 2018 is a special election for the seat’s term, which will be up again in 2020. Smith is challenged by Republican Karin Housley, who currently serves as a state Senator, representing District 39 in the eastern Twin Cities area.

Smith prevailed in the election by an 11 percentage point margin. Polls consistently had her leading the race. The most recent poll, conducted by SurveyUSA on behalf of KSTP just one week prior to the election, most closely matched the final result.

U.S. Senate Race: Tina Smith (DFL)* v. Karin Housley (R)

MN Poll Watch 2018 Senate Special
APM Research Lab
Note: Dotted lines represent margins of error around point estimates. *Incumbent.

As of 11/6 (prior to election results), leading political forecasters had rated this race as follows:

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Minnesota’s Congressional Districts

Scroll over for recent voting history and more

Note: For more district demographic characteristics and recent voting history, see Representing US .

Congressional District 1: Feehan (DFL) v. Hagedorn (R)

This Southern Minnesota district includes regional centers Albert Lea, Austin, Mankato, and Rochester (home of the Mayo Clinic). The seat is currently held by DFLer Tim Walz, who is running for governor. In 2016 Jim Hagedorn (R) lost a bid for the seat by less than one percentage point. That same year, the district voted in favor of President Trump by a 15 percentage point margin. This year former U.S. Treasury official Hagedorn is challenged by Iraq war veteran Dan Feehan (DFL).

Hagedorn prevailed in this extremely close race by less than half a percentage point (50.1% compared with 49.7% voting for Feehan), successfully flipping the district from DFL to Republican control.

The only nonpartisan poll in this race, done by SurveyUSA on behalf of KSTP and KAAL October 16-20, showed the race statistically tied (47% favoring Feehan, and 45% favoring Hagedorn, with 8% undecided). Based on polls, historical voting trends, and analysis, leading political forecasters had rated this race as follows (as of 11/6, prior to election results):

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Congressional District 2: Lewis (R)* v. Craig (DFL)

This suburban district lies just south of Minneapolis and St. Paul. Incumbent (*) Republican former radio host Jason Lewis is once again facing DFL challenger Angie Craig. In 2016 Lewis prevailed by less than two percentage points; Trump carried the district by only one point.

Craig prevailed in the election by a six percentage point margin, successfully flipping the district from Republican to DFL control.

The first of two nonpartisan polls conducted in the district prior to the election more closely matched the eventual result overall, although the more recent of the two closely reflected the proportion that eventually voted for Craig.

U.S. House District 2: Jason Lewis (R)* v. Angie Craig (DFL)

MN Poll Watch 2018 U.S. House District 2
APM Research Lab
Note: Dotted lines represent margins of error around point estimates. *Incumbent.


As of 11/6 (prior to election results), leading political forecasters had rated this race as follows, based on polls, historical trends, and analysis:

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Congressional District 3: Paulsen (R)* v. Phillips (DFL)

This district in the western suburbs surrounding Minneapolis, is Minnesota’s most affluent and boasts one of the nation’s lowest unemployment rates. In 2016 incumbent (*) Republican Erik Paulsen was re-elected by a 14 percentage point margin, even while the district went for Democrat Hillary Clinton by 9 points. Paulsen is being challenged by DFLer Dean Phillips.

Phillips prevailed in the election by a larger-than-expected 11 percentage point margin, successfully flipping the district from Republican to DFL control.

The first of two nonpartisan polls conducted in the district prior to the election more closely matched the eventual result overall, although the more recent of the two closely matched the proportion that eventually voted for Paulsen.

U.S. House District 3: Erik Paulsen (R)* v. Dean Phillips (DFL)

MN Poll Watch 2018 U.S. House District 3
APM Research Lab
Note: Dotted lines represent margins of error around point estimates. *Incumbent.



As of 11/6 (prior to election results), leading political forecasters had rated this race as follows, based on polls, historical trends, and analysis:

Jump to: President Trump , Governor’s race , Attorney General , U.S. Senate: Klobuchar v. Newberger, U.S. Senate: Housley v. Smith , CD1 , CD2 , CD3 , CD4 , CD5 , CD6 , CD7 , CD8


Congressional District 4: McCollum (DFL)* v. Ryan (R)

Incumbent (*) DFLer Betty McCollum has held this seat, which includes St. Paul and its eastern suburbs, since her win in 2000. This year she is defending the seat in a re-match with Greg Ryan, who she defeated by a decisive 23 percentage points in 2016, although the district voted in favor of Clinton by the even wider 31 point margin in that year’s presidential election.

McCollum prevailed in this race by a 36 percentage point margin (66% to Ryan’s 30%, with 4% favoring Legal Marijuana Now candidate, Susan Pendergast Sindt). There was not any non-partisan polling for this district prior to the election. However, based on historical voting trends and analysis, leading political forecasters had rated this race as follows (as of 11/6, prior to election results):

Jump to: President Trump , Governor’s race , Attorney General , U.S. Senate: Klobuchar v. Newberger, U.S. Senate: Housley v. Smith , CD1 , CD2 , CD3 , CD4 , CD5 , CD6 , CD7 , CD8


Congressional District 5: Omar (DFL) v. Zielinski (R)

In 2016 this district, made up of Minneapolis and its first ring suburbs, went for Keith Ellison by 47 percentage points, and favored Clinton in the presidential race by a 55 point margin. Ellison is now running for attorney general, and DFL state representative Ilhan Omar is facing Republican Jennifer Zielinski for the seat.

Omar prevailed by a 56 percentage point margin (78% to 22% voting for Zielinski). Omar became the first refugee, first Somali-American, and, along with Rashida Tlaib from Michigan's 13th District, first Muslim woman elected to Congress.

There was not any non-partisan polling for this district prior to the election. However, based on historical voting trends and analysis, leading political forecasters had rated this race as follows (as of 11/6, prior to election results):

Jump to: President Trump , Governor’s race , Attorney General , U.S. Senate: Klobuchar v. Newberger, U.S. Senate: Housley v. Smith , CD1 , CD2 , CD3 , CD4 , CD5 , CD6 , CD7 , CD8


Congressional District 6: Emmer (R)* v. Todd (DFL)

Incumbent (*) Republican Tom Emmer was elected to represent this central Minnesota district in 2014. He was re-elected in 2016 by a margin of 31 percentage points, which was even greater than Trump’s 26 point margin in the presidential election there (for district demographic characteristics and recent voting history, see Representing US). DFLer Ian Todd, an Air Force Veteran, is challenging Emmer.

Emmer prevailed by 22 percentage points, receiving 66 percent of the votes, compared to Todd’s 39 percent. There was not any non-partisan polling for this district prior to the election. However, based on historical voting trends and analysis, leading political forecasters had rated this race as follows (as of 11/6, prior to election results):

Jump to: President Trump , Governor’s race , Attorney General , U.S. Senate: Klobuchar v. Newberger, U.S. Senate: Housley v. Smith , CD1 , CD2 , CD3 , CD4 , CD5 , CD6 , CD7 , CD8


Congressional District 7: Peterson (DFL)* v. Hughes (R)

Incumbent (*) DFLer Collin Peterson has held this seat, which includes nearly all of the western third of the state, since 1990. In 2016 Peterson defeated Republican Air Force Veteran Dave Hughes by five percentage points, even though President Trump won 31 percent of the district’s vote, the nation’s biggest Congressional-Presidential vote split. Hughes and Peterson are facing off again this year.

Peterson prevailed by four percentage points, receiving 52 percent of the votes compared to Hughes’ 48 percent. There was not any non-partisan polling for this district prior to the election. However, based on historical voting trends and analysis, leading political forecasters had rated this race as follows (as of 11/6, prior to election results):

Jump to: President Trump , Governor’s race , Attorney General , U.S. Senate: Klobuchar v. Newberger, U.S. Senate: Housley v. Smith , CD1 , CD2 , CD3 , CD4 , CD5 , CD6 , CD7 , CD8


Congressional District 8: Radinovich (DFL) v. Stauber (R)

Minnesota’s “Iron Range” district extends beyond the northeastern mining towns to Duluth and south the northern Twin Cities exurbs. Out-going DFLer Rick Nolan, who was elected to the seat in 2012, won in 2016 by less than one percentage point, while President Trump carried the district by 16 points. Joe Radinovich (DFL) and Pete Stauber (R) are vying for the hotly contested open seat.

Stauber prevailed in the election by 6 percentage points, successfully flipping the district to Republican control.

Two nonpartisan polls were conducted in the district leading up to the election, both by Siena College Research Institute on behalf of the New York Times. The more recent of the two had Stauber up by a 15 percentage point margin. The proportion favoring Stauber in that poll (49%) closely matched the proportion that eventually voted for Stauber (51%), while the poll they conducted in early September more closely matched the proportion eventually voting for Radinovich.

U.S. House District 8: Pete Stauber (R) v. Joe Radinovich (DFL)

MN Poll Watch 2018 U.S. House District 8
APM Research Lab
Note: Dotted lines represent margins of error around point estimates.


As of 11/6 (prior to election results), leading political forecasters had rated this race as follows, based on polls, historical trends, and analysis:

Jump to: President Trump , Governor’s race , Attorney General , U.S. Senate: Klobuchar v. Newberger, U.S. Senate: Housley v. Smith , CD1 , CD2 , CD3 , CD4 , CD5 , CD6 , CD7 , CD8


Watch our Facebook Live chat about the polls

Watch the APM Research Lab’s Managing Partner, Craig Helmstetter, discuss the latest poll findings with Michael Olson and Briana Bierschbach of MPR News, in this archived FaceBook Live chat from October 5, 2018.

Please email us your thoughts and tips on new nonpartisan polls, or respond on Twitter or Facebook.

The APM Research Lab is a division of American Public Media aimed at informing the public by producing credible research- and analysis- based content.