Mar 5, 2024 - Politics

What to watch in Minnesota's Super Tuesday presidential primary

Animated illustration of the shapes of Alabama, Alaska, American Samoa, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, and Virginia rotating over a divided red and blue background with ballot elements.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

A sleepy presidential primary season in Minnesota comes to a head today.

Why it matters: Super Tuesday is Minnesota's chance to weigh in on the major parties' nominees for the November general election.

State of play: We're barreling toward a rematch between President Biden and former President Trump.

  • Super Tuesday isn't expected to change the trajectory. If anything, it should put both within striking distance of winning the selected needed to officially snag the nomination.

Zoom in: Don't bank on Minnesota being an outlier. Polling suggests the frontrunners will win by wide margins.

  • Unlike four years ago, when the state held its first presidential primary in decades, there's been barely any campaign activity on the ground.

Yes, but: There will still be plenty to parse in the results.

What we're watching: Here's a look at what today's primary might tell us about the state of the race and the electorate in Minnesota:

1. Does Trump trounce?

Eight years ago, Trump placed third in the state's GOP caucuses, trailing U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz.

  • A near-sweep of the state in today's primary would show just how dominant a figure Trump — who just yesterday falsely suggested he won Minnesota's general election in 2020 — has become in the Republican Party.
  • We'll be watching how he fares in the suburbs, which are must-win territory in November.

The intrigue: Republican rival Nikki Haley, who visited Bloomington last week, would need to hit 20% of the vote statewide to secure a GOP delegate from Minnesota.

2. "Uncommitted's" appeal

Motivated by Michigan, some activists who support a ceasefire in Gaza are encouraging Democrats to vote "uncommitted" to protest Biden's handling of the Israel-Hamas war.

  • The effort won 13% of the vote in Michigan's primary. It would need to hit 15% here — either in a congressional district or statewide — to secure a delegate for the national convention.

Another benchmark: About 2,600 Minnesota Democrats voted "uncommitted" in 2016 when there wasn't an organized campaign encouraging it.

The latest: Nearly 60 imams and at least seven DFL legislators endorsed the "uncommitted" campaign in the closing days.

3. Phillips' prospects

U.S. Rep. Dean Phillips' share of the vote in recent contests in Michigan and South Carolina hovered in the low single digits.

The bottom line: A poor showing on his home turf — including in the suburban district he represents — will be another hit to his flagging campaign.

4. How low can (turnout) go?

More than 800,000 Minnesotans cast a ballot in the 2020 presidential primaries — a big increase in participation from the caucus days.

  • The largely uncontested nature of this year's primaries could result in lower turnout.

But a big dip could suggest voters are already disengaged — or unhappy with their choices. Polls show they're less than thrilled about the likely rematch.

Read more: How to vote in Minnesota on Super Tuesday

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