The door wars are back: Minnesota candidates hit 1 million voter homes in battle for Capitol
Door-knocking by Minnesota political campaigns has returned in full force after last election's pandemic slowdown.
The big picture: The blitz is especially apparent in the high-stakes battle for control of the state Legislature, which could hinge on hundreds of votes in just a handful of competitive seats.
- Candidates, campaign workers and volunteers on both sides of those races have already knocked on more than 1 million doors with less than five weeks to go, per numbers shared with Axios by the campaigns.
Why it matters: Face-to-face conversations help candidates build "a foundation of credibility that is tough to erode," longtime GOP strategist Gregg Peppin tells Axios.
- "When the nasty mail hits, [the voter is] less likely to look at that and say 'Oh, boy," and let that influence their decision."
Yes, and: The tactic is seen as especially important after redistricting, when incumbents and challengers alike must introduce themselves to swaths of new voters.
Flashback: Most Minnesota Democrats refrained from door-to-door canvassing in 2020 amid COVID concerns.
- Top DFLers acknowledge that the decision likely contributed to narrow losses in competitive state legislative races.
By the numbers: The Senate DFL Caucus, which is trying to flip Republicans' narrow majority in the chamber, says its campaigns have already hit 400,000 doors. A Senate GOP spokesperson said they were at around 300,000 as of last weekend, with 90% logged in targeted districts.
- House Republicans were approaching 300,000 doors as of Thursday. The House DFL declined to share its numbers.
Zoom in: Door-knocking is generally concentrated in competitive districts.
- DFL state Rep. Kelly Morrison told Axios her campaign for a west metro Senate seat has already hit 50,000 doors. GOP Sen. Jim Abeler, who's running for re-election in a seat that includes Anoka, recently posted about surpassing 16,000 homes visited.
What they're saying: "We made almost 100,000 phone calls in the 2020 cycle, but phones are just not the same as being in person," Morrison said. "There's a real hunger out there for human interaction."
- Thomas Knecht, a Republican running for an Eden Prairie-based seat, and his supporters have knocked on more doors than any other House GOP campaign.
- "Not only does it allow me to cut through the noise, more importantly, I get to hear directly from voters about their lives, priorities and daily struggles," he said.
What they're hearing: Democrats say abortion remains a top issue in the wake of the Dobbs decision overturning Roe v. Wade.
- Republicans say the issue does come up, particularly in the metro, but they report hearing more about crime and pocketbook issues in recent weeks.
The bottom line: The door-knocking blitz is only going to increase as the election approaches, so voters in competitive districts should brace themselves for more political visitors.
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